Run other operating systems on your PC

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 19, 2005
Updated • Apr 30, 2013

There are occasions where you probably want to run a different operating system on your computer without really installing it, for instance to test it before you make a decision to install it. Or maybe, you want to learn the ins and outs of another operating system, a Linux distribution for instance, but do not like the idea of installing it right away on your PC. Or, you want to test multiple Linux distributions to find the one best suited for you. Instead of installing them all and deleting them again, you can run them in a virtual environment instead.

All you need are three ingredients. First, you need the free vmware player, then you need which is used to install the operating system and finally you need an iso file or a cd / dvd of the operating system you want to run in a virtual environment.

Installation is simple as well:

Install vmware player and unzip Change to the unzipped directory and open os.vmx in a text editor.

Change the following lines:

memsize = “512″
ide1:0.fileName = “c:\image.iso

Edit the memsize line with the amount of ram that you want to provide for vmware and the second operating system. For most Linux distros 256 should be enough, make sure you leave enough left for Windows. The second line is the location of your .iso file. change it accordingly. If you have it on a CD or DVD edit the following three lines

ide1:0.present = “TRUE
ide1:0.fileName = “c:\image.iso
ide1:0.deviceType = “cdrom-image


ide1:0.present = “TRUE
ide1:0.fileName = “auto detect
ide1:0.deviceType = “cdrom-raw

Start Vmplayer and open the os.vmx, as soon as you see the starting screen press ESC to enter the list of bootable devices. Select Cd-Rom and hit enter. The Os should load just fine and you are ready to go.

The vmware site offers some pre-build virtual machines. These pre-build virtual machines are called virtual appliances. They can still be downloaded from the VMWare solution exchange. Here you find appliances for popular applications and operating systems.


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  1. jamers said on March 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I’m getting the same permission error on win 7 as fateh has in vista…Error while powering on: (Unable to open file “C:\OS.vmdk”: Insufficient permission to access file)… I found the file at
    Under the properties of all the files the permissions are all checked as allow. Anyone know what could be tripping this error?

    1. guest said on August 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks jamers

  2. fateh said on October 28, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Hi, it wok in windows vista? I try it but is not working, it say: “Error while powering on: Check for missing files failed:
    Insufficient permissions to access the file.”
    help plz

  3. XenonVector927 said on March 18, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I would also like a valid link to the file.

  4. vreezver said on February 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    were you realy interested in sharing knowledge with people, you would have been clever to check up the links your are displaying
    I don’t know what is all your problem with showing the same link which ain’t working on that damn linux / is a shit dead end
    CHECK IT UP!!!#@~~

  5. Pooko said on January 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    Hey AaDiTyA_DMW, I’m stuck too, and your instructions are too concise to follow. Where can I get step-by-step instructions for the procedure you are outlining?


  6. AaDiTyA_DMW said on January 7, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Hi Guys,
    U don’t Have to Download It from any where else..
    U can create one of your own.
    Just Grab an OS CD or DVD..
    Make a Virtual Image of It..Using Magic ISO Or any other Deamon Tools..
    And then Just load it after Running VMware..And then it will Take care of all those missing or broken Drivers(IN case of XP)..

  7. jryan said on December 29, 2008 at 4:10 am

    I can’t get the files either. It would be greatly appreciated if anyone can find another source of the files or exactly what is needed to build it from scratch maybe.


  8. andy said on December 28, 2008 at 5:46 am

    looks like wolphination got suspended. I can’t download file. Could anybody provide a valid link for file? Many thanks.

  9. Rarst said on July 23, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    >I want to Boot My Already Installed XP Using VMware(I Didn’t Installed Xp Using VMware)

    It won’t work directly, pluging existing OS into virtual pc usually ends up breaking that OS.

    Easy solution – re-install XP under VMWare.
    Complex solution – make image of XP partition, restore it to VMware, fix broken drivers and such.

    I highly recommend easy way, complex one is total mess that is not guaranteed to succeed. :)

  10. Aaditya_DMW said on July 23, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I already Have An Installed XP and Ubuntu 8.04 on My Hard Disk. currently I Installed VMware On Ubuntu 8.04 ,
    I want to Boot My Already Installed XP Using VMware(I Didn’t Installed Xp Using VMware) And Work on it. Plz Help By Giving Ur Suggestion, i m Desperately Waiting For FollowUp Comments

  11. Martin said on December 19, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Its also possible to use the freeware Colinux
    to linux on windows nativly.

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