When setting up new virtual computers, a lot of time can be saved under certain conditions: You can exchange, convert or clone an operational guest system in order to use it with various virtualization programs.
The exchange of a virtual machine between different virtualization programs works easily and comparatively quickly with the help of an OVA or OVF file.
For the exchange of virtual machines, the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) was developed by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) back in 2007. The standard describes an “open, secure, portable, efficient and expandable format for the packaging and distribution of software that runs in virtual machines” – independent of software platforms and processor architectures. Either
Vmware Workstation Pro
as well as
support the import and export of OVA files. This TAR-based file archive contains the virtual hard disk in VMDK or VDI format and an OVF descriptor file.
Export OVA files
The export of a virtual machine as OVA is done quickly. The OVA can then be imported again. All the necessary settings for the virtual machine are already available. The import / export differs from copying a virtual hard disk, since a new VM has to be created and the existing hard disk has to be integrated.
You initiate the export of a virtual machine under “File -› Export Appliance “or with the key combination Ctrl-E. An assistant opens. In the first step, select the desired VM and click on “Next”. Then accept “Open Virtualization Format 1.0” as the format and enter the output path after File after clicking on the yellow folder symbol. The file name is adopted, but can be changed. Leave the setting “Only include Mac addresses of the NAT network adapters” and click “Next”. In the next window leave everything blank except “Name” and click on “Export”. The process starts and takes 15 to 30 minutes – depending on the size of the virtual machine.
Vmware Workstation Pro:
You can also export existing VMs with this virtualization software. Select the desired virtual machine in the VMware program on the left and choose “File -› Export to OVF “. In the following dialog, enter the target directory and the file name. Confirm by clicking the “Save” button. The export begins – be patient.
Exchange files between VM and host PC
In Virtualbox click on “File” and select “Import Appliance”. Enter the path to the folder in which the VM with the extension OVA is saved and click on “Open” and “Next”. In the “Appliance Settings” dialog, the most important parameters of the virtual machine are displayed, including the “guest operating system”, the number of CPUs used and the reserved main memory. Here you can adjust settings directly. Click on “Import”. Then the VM appears in the left column of Virtualbox. When starting up for the first time, the specific drivers of Virtualbox are installed. For better Windows integration, set up the guest additions.
Importing into VMware Workstation Player / Pro is just as easy: Click on “Open a Virtual Machine” and follow the instructions. You set the storage path and continue. As with Virtualbox, some drivers are installed in the imported guest computer and you should set up the guest additions.
Convert virtual disks
Virtualbox, Vmware Workstation Pro and Workstation Player (pictured) support importing appliances.
Virtual PCs that run with
Vmware Workstation Player
or Pro are available as VMDK files. These virtual hard disks cannot be used under Windows Hyper-V, as the program only supports VHD (X) files. In Virtualbox, however, the VMDK files can be integrated.
The free program
Starwind V2V Converter
converts VMDK images to VHD (X) files for use in Windows Hyper-V. By the way, VHDs can also be converted to VMDK files for Vmware. Virtualbox is not supported by the software.
Install Starwind V2V Converter and then start the tool. In the English-language user interface select “Local file” and click on “Next”. In the “Source image” window, open the selection dialog by clicking on the three dots behind “File name”. In the drop-down box after “File type”, “All supported image files” is preset for all supported formats. You can see this after clicking in the drop-down box. VMDK (Vmware) as well as VHD and VHDX (Microsoft) are supported. Qemu’s IMG and QCOW2 files are irrelevant to us. In our example we select a VMDK file with Windows 10 and confirm with “Next”. In the “Select location of destination image” window, accept “Local file” by clicking on “Next”. Then select “VHD / VHDX” as the file format and continue with “Next”. For the transfer in Hyper-V under Windows 10 then select “VHDX growable image” and check the box in front of “Activate Windows Repair Mode”. Clicks on “Next” and “Convert” start the conversion. Make sure there is enough free hard disk space. The conversion begins, which may take some time. The VHD file is then also located in the directory of the VMDK file – the file name is adopted.
Then integrate the VHDX file into a new Hyper-V virtual machine by selecting the “Use existing virtual hard disk” option in the “Connect virtual hard disk” window and specifying the file path. Proceed with the setup.
Some hardware drivers may be installed in the guest system when the VM is started for the first time in Hyper-V. Then the virtual machine is ready to go.
Use software in the VM