Open a VMware virtual machine in VirtualBox and vice versa

Virtual machines are one of the best options available on both Windows, Linux and macOS, to test new versions of an operating system or even other operating systems without making any changes to the boot system. Although they are not the only options, those offered by both VirtualBox and VMware are the most popular and used. In addition, we can open VirtualBox virtual machines in VMware and vice versa in a very simple way.

The process of creating and configuring a virtual machine, depending on the needs and tastes of each user, can be exhausting. Losing all that work overnight because we’ve decided to change the application we use to virtualize operating systems is an idea that doesn’t even cross our minds.

Open a VMware virtual machine in VirtualBox and vice versa

If we want to share virtual machines with friends or family, or we want to use it in our workplace, where the same virtual machine platform that we have at home is not used, the solution is to convert them to the standard virtualization format, a format compatible with both applications. .

What is OVF / OVA: advantages and disadvantages

The .OVA extension is the acronym for Open V irtual A ppliance, a format created by Oracle, which, in turn, is behind the VirtualBox application. This is the format used to share an OVF, Open Virtualization Format, open source format used to package and distribute virtual machine applications and services. Both VirtualBox and VMware offer support for both formats, allowing the user the possibility to convert virtual machines created in VirtualBox to VMware and vice versa using this standard format.

The first advantage that we are going to find when converting virtual machines from VirtualBox to VMware and vice versa, is that it will not be necessary to create it again from scratch on the computer where we also want to use it, thus reducing the time needed to configure it according to our preferences. In this way, try different operating systems and versions of these available in .OVF format that we can find on the Internet or that we can share with friends, family, co-workers.

Although both applications offer support for the OVF standard, it is not a guarantee that we will be able to convert all virtual machines correctly and without any errors. Although it is not usually common, there is always the possibility that this may happen, the fastest solution being to uninstall the virtual machine and reinstall it.

Convert a virtual machine from VirtualBox to VMware

The process to convert a virtual machine in VirtualBox to the .OVA format varies depending on both the space they occupy and the type of storage unit the computer has. If it is a mechanical hard drive (HDD), the process will be much slower and you will have to be patient because the equipment is managed by an SSD.

The first thing we must do, before anything else, once we have opened VirtualBox is to make sure that the virtual machine is turned off. If the virtual machine that we want to export to .OVF format is running, the process will not be carried out.

Once we have made sure that the virtual machine is turned off, we go to the top menu of the application, click on the File menu and then on Export virtualized service.

Exportar máquina virtual

Next, a list will be displayed with all the virtual machines installed on the computer, and where we have to select the one we want to export and click on Next.

Exportar máquina virtual

In the next window, we select the format we want to use to export the virtual machine from the following options:

  • Open Virtualization Format 0.9
  • Open Virtualization Format 1.0 (recommended to avoid incompatibilities)
  • Open Virtualization Format 2.0

Next, we set the one we want to save the virtual machine with along with the directory where it will be stored.

Exportar máquina virtual

To start the process, click on the Next button and in the following window where a summary of the process is shown, click on Export and wait for the process to finish.

Exportar máquina virtual

Use VirtualBox machine in VMware

Once we have created the file with the .OVF extension with VirtualBox, the process to use this already created virtual machine is as simple as opening VMware and selecting Open a Virtual Machine.

Importar máquina VMware

Next, we select the location where we have stored the virtual machine that we have exported from VirtulalBox. In the dialog that appears, we enter the name of the virtual machine and select the location where we want to create it. Finally, we click on Import .

Importar máquina VMware

If after clicking on the Import button the following message is displayed, informing us that the import has failed because it has not passed the compliance with the OVF specification or the hardware of the virtual machine, we only have to click on Retry to skip this requirement and let the process take its course.

Importar máquina VMware

Once the process is finished, all the details of the virtual machine that we have exported will be displayed and where we just have to click on the symbol represented by a triangle facing left.

Importar máquina VMware

Move a virtual machine from VMware to VirtualBox

As in the process to export a VirtualBox machine to .OFV format, before starting the process with VMware, we must also make sure that the machine is completely powered off. Next, we access the Windows terminal using CMD and go to the OVFTool folder using the following command

cd C:/Program files (x86)/VMware/VMware Player/OVFTool

If instead of the Player version, we have the Workstation version installed, we must access the VMware Workstation directory, instead of the VMware Player directory.

Next, from the file explorer, without closing the CMD window, we look for the location where the virtual machine is located in .vmx format that we want to export to .OVF format and use the following command to convert that VMware virtual machine to format .OVF.

ovftool “C:/users/nombre-de-usuario/Documents/Virtual Machines/Ubuntu/Ubuntu20.vmx” C:/users/nombre-de-usuario/desktop/ubuntu.ovf

After entering this command, we will convert the Ubuntu virtual machine available in VMware to the ubuntu.ovf file to be able to use it with VirtualBox.

Use the VMware virtual machine in VirtualBox

To use the VMware virtual machine in VirtualBox, we just have to open the Oracle application, go to the top menu and click on File and then on Import virtualization service , select the location of the file with the extension .OVF and follow the steps that tells us the application to install on the computer.

Importar máquina virtualbox

We select the location where the file that we have created from VMware with the virtual machine that we have exported is located, and click on Next.

Importar máquina virtualbox

Next, all the details of the virtual machine that we are going to Install will be displayed. At the bottom, Machine base folder, we must establish where we want to host the virtual machine. Finally, click on Import to start the process.

Importar máquina virtualbox

Once the process is finished, the main page of the VirtualBox application will show the virtual machine that we have imported. To run it and check that everything works correctly, we just have to select it and click on the Start button.

Importar máquina virtualbox

last steps

Once we have installed the virtual machines that we have exported in both VirtualBox and VMware, the last step we must do is install the Guest Additions in VirtualBox and the VMware Tools to activate interoperability between the host virtual machine and the guest virtual machine.

While this option is available completely free of charge in VirtualBox, just like the use of the application, with VMware we found a small problem, and that is that the free version, VMware Fusion, does not allow you to install these plugins. It is necessary, yes or yes, to have the Pro version of VMware.

Common mistakes

Unless it is a virtual machine that requires very specific hardware, using a virtual machine created in VirtualBox in VMware and vice versa is a process that does not usually present practically any problem.

Despite using the standard virtualization format, there is always the possibility that it will not start. The only solution to this problem is to reinstall the guest operating system from scratch using the file that we have converted again.