Wednesday Oct 15, 2008

Growing a VMWare Fusion Disk

This is probably the most common operations users will want to perform on existing VMs. On the Hard Disk settings page for the VM, you can find a nice little slider for the disk size. Simple enough you think. Change it, apply, and wait while it chugs for a long while. Reboot your VM, and find that to your surprise the VM still sees the old smaller disk size.

This makes sense when you understand what changing the disk size in the Hard Disk settings page for Fusion really does. It changes the disk size, but it doesn't update the partition table for guest OS. Hardly what the average user expects.

If you Google on this topic, you'll find lots of information about using archaic VMWare command line tools for this purpose. Most of the threads suggest the creating a new VM and reinstalling the guest OS is the easiest option (!!!), Luckily there's a better solution. Download gpartd, a Linux partition manager that understands NTFS as well. Get the live CD (iso), and configure VMWare to boot from it. You need to tell your guest OS to boot from the CD. Do this by quickly pressing F2 before it boots, and changing the boot device order. gpartd has a fairly nice GUI with an obvious "resize" option.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not what the average user expected from Fusion's uber-high level settings GUI. The grow disk option should either be removed (from the GUI), or it should do the obvious (grow + re-partition to use all the added space). If the user wants to do something different like create multiple partitions, let them use the command line utilities. There's not many reasons to do anything other than use all the space in a single partition.

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