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Compatibility Among Virtual Machines

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 4/27/2011

There are several different virtual machine environments available, these include Virtual PC, VMWare and VirtualBox and with the right tools you can move your VM from one to another.

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    The Growth of Virtualization

    Switching from VirtualBox to VMWare Fusion There are various uses for virtualization – you might have a legacy operating system that you wish to keep using for specific applications, for instance, and this can be setup in a virtual environment.

    Virtualization is growing in popularity as a means of utilizing the hardware of modern computers to create smaller, virtual computers and servers. It’s complicated stuff, yet there are three top virtual computer solutions in the shape of Microsoft Virtual PC, the open source VirtualBox and the most popular choice, VMWare Fusion.

    It’s probably fair to say that VMWare Fusion offers a greater wealth of options than VirtualBox, while Virtual PC is largely for Microsoft operating systems. If you’re planning on moving from VirtualBox to VMWare Fusion, you’ll be pleased to know that with the right version of the software this is a straightforward task.

    Image credit:

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    Scenario for Switching from VirtualBox to VMWare Fusion

    With a virtual computer running in VirtualBox (perhaps you’re running Windows or a Linux distro) you can probably perform 98% of tasks, but VMWare Fusion offers the chance to run your virtual computer to a greater degree of success.

    However there seems to be a problem: surely upgrading to VMWare Fusion means starting from scratch with a brand new VM (virtual machine) and reinstalling all of the applications that you have running on your VirtualBox VM?

    Well actually, no it doesn’t. The latest version of VMWare Fusion features a very useful tool that converts virtual machines made in VirtualBox so that they can be used with VMWare Fusion. This requires that you first configure your exported VirtualBox VM for use in VMWare Fusion.

    What used to be a tricky job with some tricky elements has now become far simpler!

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    Exporting a VM to VMWare Fusion

    Not the easiest procedure in the world but certainly the most effective, exporting your virtual machine from VirtualBox to VMWare Fusion requires the creation of a special file that can then be adjusted and imported into VMWare Fusion.

    With you virtual machine suspended, go to File > Export Appliance to create an industry-standard OVF compliant VM file. This might take a little while to create, depending on how much hard disk space your VM was using.

    You will then need to find the OVF file and open it in a text editor. With a raw text version of the OVF file visible, find the term "ovf:format=" and change the following text to read as follows:


    Use the text editor's Find tool to look for the "Virtual SystemType" and confirm it reads as either of the following:

    <vssd:VirtualSystemType>vmx-07</vssd:VirtualSystemType> (for a esx 4.0)

    <vssd:VirtualSystemType>vmx-04</vssd:VirtualSystemType> (for esx 3.5.x and 4.0 hosts)

    Finally, find "<rasd:Caption>sound" add the following line above it:

    <Item ovf:required="false">

    Save the file, and then close.

    Once complete, you’re ready to use this OVF file in VMWare Fusion. Visit to download the VMWare OVF Tool – this is a command line utility designed for importing and exporting OVF files.

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    Finishing off and Importing the OVF

    The final stage is to convert your OVF file into a VMX, allowing you to finally migrate your VirtualBox virtual machine to VMWare.

    With the VMWare OVF Tool downloaded, open the Mac terminal and cd to the directory it is saved to. Make the file executable with the command:

    chmod +x

    and then run the the installer script:


    Follow any instructions that the installer displays through to completion.

    Finally, use the VMWare OVF Tool to convert your OVF package to VMWare format by entering a command such as this:

    ovftool [VirtualBox_directory_name]/BigDemo.ovf [VMWare_directory_name]/BigDemo.vmx

    Full details on various options and commands for the VMWare OVF Tool can be found in the userguide at

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    "How do I convert VirtualBox files to work with VMWare Workstation?" Wallen, Jack,