Manually restoring raw partclone partition image to a VMWare
Posted by Jakub Holý on February 6, 2011
This post sums up how to manually restore a partition backup create by Clonezilla (using partclone) into a VMware virtual machine, which can be then either executed or its (virtual) disk mounted. The difficult points are “manual” and “partition backup” (would be much easier with a full disk backup). Normally I restore a backup by running Clonezilla from a virtual machine with sufficiently large virtual disk, but at times it isn’t possible, e.g. because the Clonezilla kernel has a buggy USB driver which tends to disconnect at times (at least with my version & flash disk).
Problems with VMware
- VMware can boot from a raw partition, but it must be a physical one, not its image stored in a file
- VMware doesn’t support loop devices for accessing such a partition (or disk) image – that’s because loop devices don’t behave as true physical disk, i.e. are missing support for some commands that VMware uses (though sb. has implemented a patch for VMware to work around this)
- VMware can boot from an image of a raw disk, but it must be a full disk (including MBR, partition table), not just a partition
Failed attempt: Use VirtualBox’s support for partitions
In theory, Virtual Box could be used with few tricks to mount from a raw partition image (by configuring it to boot from the original true raw partition and then changing the device in the configuration to a loop device) but for me VB was very unreliable, managed to boot correctly only occasionally and when it did then the graphics was a bit strange, which prevented me from logging in to the backed-up OS. Anyway, for those who’re interested, I’ll record my steps here.
0. Mount the restored partition:
sudo mount -t ext4 -o loop,nosuid,nodev /media/jholy1g/sda1.ext4-ptcl-restored.img /mnt
# in my case mounted to /dev/loop0 as revealed by running mount.
1. Create vbox image from a physical disk where the backed-up partition comes from (/dev/sda, partition #5 in my case):
sudo VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename vbox-sda.vmdk -rawdisk /dev/sda -partitions 5 -relative
2. In the generated vbox-sda.vmdk, replace the physical /dev/sda5 with /dev/loop0
3. Start virtualbox from the commandline where you’re sure to have access to /dev/loop0
(adduser myname disk; newgrp disk; virtualbox)
4. Create new VirtualBox virt. machine with an existing hard drive image, i.e. the one created above
Success: Restoration to a mounted vmware partition
- Create a pre-allocated (non-growing) vmware disk of a sufficient size
- Run a virtual machine with e.g. an Ubuntu live CD and the disk, create there a partitiona and set its boot flag
- Stop the vmware VM
- Mount the virtual vmdk disk as a loop device from the host system
- Mount the vmdk’s first partition as a loop device (beware you need to use the correct offset here!)
- Use partclone to restore the (joined & decompressed) backup to the partition’s loop device
- Umount the partition
- Install GRUB into the virtual disk and configure it to boot the 1st partition (either from the host system, or, which may be easier, from within vmware)
- Run the virtual machine, booting from the thus prepared disk
Restoring to a virtual vmware disk’s partition
Create a pre-allocated (non-growing) vmware disk of a sufficient size in the VMWare Player.
This part is mostly taken over from Mount Flat VMWare Disk Images Under Linux.
Mount the virtual disk:
sudo losetup /dev/loop0 /media/MyBook-Linux/vmware/Ubuntu-candyRestore/Ubuntu-candyRestore-0-flat.vmdk
Find out where the first partition of the virtual disk starts for correct offset when mounting it:
$ sudo fdisk -lu /dev/loop0 Disk /dev/loop0: 306.0 GB, 306016419840 bytes 97 heads, 12 sectors/track, 513477 cylinders, total 597688320 sectors Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes Disk identifier: 0xaa3590f4 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/loop0p1 * 2048 597688319 298843136 83 Linux
=> 2048 * 512 = 1048576 bytes
Mount the VMDK partition, using the computed offset (in bytes):
sudo losetup -v -o 1048576 /dev/loop1 /dev/loop0
Restore the (joined and uncompressed) partclone backup to the virtual partition:
sudo partclone.restore -C -s /media/jholy1g/sda1.ext4-ptcl-img -o /dev/loop1
To verify, mount the restored filesystem:
sudo mount /dev/loop1 /tmp/mpoint
Further verification: Run the VM with a live CD, try to manually mount the partition similarly as above (or check whether the OS recognizes it as a valid, mountable one) – if not then perhaps the offset wasn’t right.
Making the virtual disk bootable from the restored partition
Now that we have restored our backup to a VMDK’s partition, we need to make it possible for VMWare to boot from the partition. To achieve that, we would need to install a boot manager such as Grub to the virtual image and configure it to use the partition.
TBD: I clearly won’t have an opportunity to try this in the forseeable future but I suppose the easiest way would be to run the virtual machine with the disk booting from a Linux live CD and install Grub there (perhaps via the Grub Customizer GUI).
Installing Grub without vmware, from the host system (having the vmdk partition mounted as a loop device as described above), should be also pretty much possible.
Sorry for leaving this unfinished. If I ever have time to come back to this, I’ll update the post.
- VMWare comes with a tool for mounting its virtual disks from the host
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