If you’re a regular VirtualBox user, you may appreciate knowing how to convert an ISO image file (.iso) into a VDI Virtual Box image file (.vdi). Converting an iso to vdi is different from simply booting VirtualBox from an iso, instead it is taking an .iso image, for example of a live boot image, and then converting that itself to a .vdi VirtualBox virtual disk image. This is useful for many reasons, whether to customize that image file, or for administration or testing purposes.
This guide will show you how to convert an iso image to a VirtualBox VDI disk image by using the command line on the Mac, but it should work the same with VirtualBox command line tools for Windows and Linux too.
This walkthrough assumes that you already have VirtualBox installed on the computer, whether it’s to run Windows 10 in a VirtualBox, Linux, or whatever. You will need VirtualBox installed because it includes the VBoxManage command line utility that is necessary for this iso to vdi conversion process to work.
How to Convert an ISO Image into VDI Disk Image
Assuming you already have the VirtualBox app installed, the conversion process from iso to vdi is quite simple. Open a new Terminal window and at the command line enter the following syntax:
VBoxManage convertfromraw DiskImage.iso VirtualDisk.vdi
For example if you have an iso in the Downloads/ directory and you want to convert it into a VirtualBox VDI file:
VBoxManage convertfromraw ~/Downloads/LinuxLiveBoot.iso ~/VMs/LinuxLiveBootVM.vdi
The conversion process can take a little while depending on the hardware.
Again this command should work on Mac OS, Linux, and Windows, anywhere with the ‘VBoxManage’ command available to it.
Note that “VBoxManage” is capitalized, and it’s important to use the proper capitalization otherwise the command will show as ‘not found’ because of a syntax error, not because it’s unavailable.
If some of this looks familiar to you it might be because we’ve discussed the VBoxManage command line tool in the past when demonstrating resizing a VirtualBox virtual disk VDI file.
One useful set of tricks with this is to take a live disk, a DVD, or boot drive, create an .iso image from the command line using that volume as the image, and then converting that to the VDI file that you can load into VirtualBox. Of course you can also just take any existing iso and convert it into a VDI file too, which is commonly desired by many systems administrators.
Do you know of another approach to convert an ISO or disk image file into a VirtualBox disk image file? Let us know in the comments below!