Migrating your VMs from VMware to VirtualBox (on a Netbook) 16

I recently bought a Toshiba nb305-n600 10.1″ netbook with Windows 7 Starter (32bit) on Atom n550, 250GB 5400 rpm disk, & 2GB of physical memory. 

Well this netbook has thrice the battery life (or more) and half the weight of my old laptop 😉 so I must say it’s really good for everyday use!

But as a DBA, I would be happier if I can run my VMware VMs on this lightweight lappie!

So coming from a 15″ laptop on Fedora OS, I’ve already installed the tools and all the software I need to be productive on this new machine. And then I’ve copied the VMware files.. then the last to be installed was the VMWare Server 2.0..

the installation went fine. But it took too long and I already had a feeling I’ll encounter performance issues when I start to boot even just one VM. And yes I was correct. Even a Windows XP VM won’t boot. It was just not working… that made me worry if the Atom n550 can’t just handle the virtualization. Or VMware (and its slow web console) was just not right…

Presenting Virtual Box

So I was already looking for an alternative virtualization software, but it would be nice if I don’t have to build my VMs from scratch.. because it will just take a lot of effort and time to do that. It would be nice if it can instantly read the same VMDK files without much modification (especially on networking/shared storage) and it should be less hassle making it work. 

Well.. Virtual Box seems to be what I need! It supports the following:
VMDK files http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch05.html#vdidetails
Shareable hard disks for RAC http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch05.html#hdimagewrites
NAT networking http://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch06.html

After skimming through the documentation and accumulating some web links http://karlarao.tiddlyspot.com/#VirtualBox I’ve installed the Virtual Box, the installation was way faster than VMware and I really like the lightweight interface 😉

The next sections will walk you through on how to make use of your existing VMware VMs on Virtual Box.

Just click on them to redirect you to the Wiki page…

VMware to Virtual Box – Single Instance Database on Linux

VMware to Virtual Box – RAC on Linux

VMware to Virtual Box – Windows XP

I can say.. VirtualBox is way faster than VMware on my netbook. I can even run two (2) node RAC! 😉

I love VirtualBox.



  1. So how did you get 2 virtual nodes of RAC up and running inside the 2 GB of memory on your new netbook?

    I have a similar scenario and use VirtualBox a lot for getting hands on with the Linux distributions and Oracle versions. But having only 2 GB in my PC has always made me feel that getting a full 2 node RAC set up going was almost impossible.

    So have you run up the 2 nodes at the same time in VirtualBox? What were the memory allocations to the Virtual Machines within VirtualBox, and then how did you configure the memory usage within Oracle? Did you use memory_target or something else?


    • Hi John,

      Thanks for the comment, I have updated the post that includes the screenshot of two RAC nodes running at the same time.
      The memory alloted for each VM, I pulled it from the usual 768MB (on the 15″ laptop) to 512MB. Then the SGA is 192MB each. With this config the netbook is still pretty responsive.. I still have a few MB of memory left and the CPU usually ranges from 50-65% 🙂

      This RAC is 10gR2 and I still don’t know how will it go if I put here 11gR2 RAC. But usually I just turn on 1 node and have a memory allotment of 768MB.

    • Hi Ittichai,

      I’m glad the wiki notes helped.. 🙂 If that’s 11gR2 RAC let me know how it goes.. I’m curious about it..

  2. I have an HP Mini 210 1GB Netbook which I have upgraded from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Professional.But I cannot run virtual PC to run Windows XP mode because the miniumun requirement is 3GB ram which I do not have.

    But I have successfully installed Linux Mint alongside my Windows 7 by mounting the ISO file on virtual clone drive and the mint4 Windows installer finished the installation.

    But I found I cannot install Windows XP in the same way with the ISO file. I tried it. So will Virtual Box work on my 1GB Netbook to install Windows XP beside Windows 7? Or do I need more ram to do this? Andrea Borman

    • I would stick on Windows Starter because that would be more lightweight in footprint than pro plus at that time I don’t have license to run pro so I did not bother reformatting my netbook.
      hmm.. haven’t tried installing WinXp from VirtualBox but that should work.

      But netbooks are not really built to run multiple VMs..max you can run would be 2 VMs and there would be a time that when you do some high load work you would be on high run queue for a long time making the whole netbook really slow.

      -Karl Arao

  3. Karlarao-Thank you for your reply. I think you are right if I tried to run another Windows OS on my netbook I would not really have room for it on my hardrive.

    But you are wrong about not being able to run a higher edition of Windows 7 on a 1GB netbook. I have got 3 HP netbooks and 1 of them I have upgraded to Windows 7 Professionall,the other Windows 7 Ultimate and the 3rd one Home Premium. So if your netbook is Windows 7 and not Windows XP or Vista(and most Windows 7 netbooks just come with only Windows 7 starter)Then you should be able to upgrade and run Windows 7 Home Premium or even,Windows 7 Ultimate if you want to.

    And although I cannot really run virtual box on my netbook,it does allow me to run Linux or Ubuntu alongside Windows on my netbok. As Linux only needs about 15gb of hard drive space. Wich is very small space compaired to how much Windows needs to run it.Thank your for your advice on virtual box. Andrea Borman.

    • No problem Andrea 🙂 yes you can upgrade your memory to 2GB then for sure you can run at least one VirtualBox VM and still have good performance.

      • Thank you for the tip about upgrading the hard drive memory. But actually the real reason I did not keep the virtual box was because I could not figure out how to use the program. I have limited experience with computers. And so even if I did upgrade my netbook hard drive. I could not do this myself,I would have to get an expert to open up the computer to do this for me.

        But I have just bought a Windows XP netbook,1GB with Windows XP Home Edition on it. It was the last one they had in the department store. As in England they are not making any more Windows XP or Windows Vista laptops.And so here it is very difficult to find a Windows XP laptop in the shops or stores now. But I was very lucky to get my Windows XP netbok after hunting in many shops for one. It is an Acer 1GB netbook, and it has Windows XP Home edition on it.

        So now I am using 2 OS my 3 netbooks with different editions of Windows 7 plus the Windows XP netbook.

        I have read online that it is also possible to install Windows XP on a Windows 7 computer. But because I have limited experience with computers,if I tried this,I think I could mess up my netbook. And I also think you must have a genuine copy of Windows XP on a CD that is activated. Or so I read.which I did not have either.

        So I did the easiest thing, and bought a Windows XP netbook. And I must say,I have noticed it seems to be a lot faster than Windows 7 and takes up less space on a netbook hard drive. So now I do have Windows XP on a real Windows XP netbook. But as most people still use Windows XP,why are have they stopped making any more Windows XP and Windows Vista computers? Andrea Borman.

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