Yes, VMware workstation 7 offers this functionality.
Create a new VM
Custom (advanced) -> Next
I will install later -> Next
Linux -> Next
Use Physical disk (for advanced users) -> Next
Use individual partition -> Next
note: I may have a few too many or few nexts in the middle there. There’s a TON of screens where you just click next.
This post describe doing what you want on VirtualBox, Ive just done it here and it works. I don’t know if it can be done on VMware(or, as the comments suggested, in the free version of it). I’d like to try it there to see how is it’s speed in comparison, but having it on VirtualBox is quite convenient already.video showing the steps of the post
Ps.: Important to note, this could be dangerous, do read the post before doing it as it’s possible a mistake could mess with your HD
Hm…I used to do the reverse of that (kind of) using a Mac and VMWare Fusion; I had a Windows drive created via BootCamp and I could point Fusion as it and Fusion would just use that as its drive instead of the standard VMDK (I’m sure it was doing more stuff on the backend, but for simplicities’s sake).
I’m 99% sure you can use VMWare Workstation, create a VM, and simply point it at the physical disk you have in place (you have to do the advanced config so it doesn’t try to auto install things). Unfortunately that’s as far as I can get; i don’t have a machine configured in such a way I can tell you more, but technically I think its possible, moreso because you’re trying to do it with the Linux OS, which is much more tolerate of having the entire hardware set swapped out between boots than Windows is. There still could be issues though, I wouldn’t try it on any drives or partitions that have things you care about and haven’t backed up lately…