Monday, December 26, 2011

FAILED: Unable to find the system volume, reconfiguration is not possible.

Sitting quietly (only when powered off) under my desk is a classic desktop computer circa 1999. The machine served me well for many years. During its prime, the hardware donned various operating systems. The operating system currently installed is Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (used primarily for development and testing). I keep it around just in case I ever need to go back and find something I need (perhaps some old VB6 code ... which I needed recently).

Nowadays I have a habit of converting old physical machines to virtual machines for archiving. Even a 100 GB virtual machine takes up far less space than a physical machine. For some reason, I had never created the virtual equivalent of this old machine ... until now. This conversion process was a little different than most that I do because this machine had multiple physical drives each with multiple logical partitions.

I first installed VMware vCenter Converter on the machine and started the conversion process. Everything went smoothly until the final reconfiguration process (when Converter first attempts to boot the new virtual machine). The following error message terminated the conversion process:
FAILED: Unable to find the system volume, reconfiguration is not possible.
I did some searching and eventually found this discussion topic. The first response (IamTHEvilONE, 17-May-2010) contained the information that resolved my conversion error. I found the C:\boot.ini file on my physical machine and opened it up. Sure enough, it looked similar to:
signature(e6d6ab31)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows Server 2003, Standard" /fastdetect
I changed the "signature(e6d6ab31)" on each line to "multi(0)" (after making a backup copy of the file). After making the changes, it looked like this:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Windows Server 2003, Standard" /fastdetect
With that change to the boot.ini file, I was able to successfully convert the physical machine to a virtual machine. Now I just need to run KillDisk on the drives, donate the hardware to a recycling program, and find something else to start collecting dust.

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