VMware Server 2 on CentOS 5.4

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Well, I’m sure that there are many people that are running VMware Server 2 on CentOS 5. After all, it’s one of the major Host OSes that VMware recognizes. Popularity notwithstanding, there is a major bug that can bring your VM screamer to a hault.

CentOS 5.4 has a new glibc package that essentially breaks VMware Server’s hostd process. There are many posts out there regarding the issues, and various means of fixing them. However, I am just going to summarize info I’ve found out there on the net, and hopefully you should be able to follow very easily and get your VMs back up and running.

PROBLEM:

VMware Server 2 (hostd) crashes on CentOS 5 after upgrading to the latest releases of glibc and glibc-common

NOTE ON SOLUTIONS: There are two methods to solve this. The first requires downgrading the libraries system-wide. This should be fine if you only use the CentOS host as a VMware Server Host and nothing else. However, if you are in doubt whether your other applications, etc. on that host will run on a slightly older version of glibc, please use SOLUTION METHOD 2 as it will only affect VMware, and essentially tell VMware Server where to look for the correct libraries it needs.

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VMware vSphere Client not working on Windows 7

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UPDATE: vSphere Client supports Windows 7 as of vSphere 4.0 Update 1. If you aren’t running vSphere 4 Update 1 or later, following the below will allow you to function until you are able to upgrade.

Well, I finally took the plunge on my workstation and installed Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. I really am impressed with the usability. And, like the improvements that have been made. I have been on the Beta on one of my home machines, so I’m not entirely new to the Windows 7 look and feel.

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Guest VM Settings Migrator 1.0

Guest VM Settings Migrator Screenshot

If you have used VMware for any length of time, you have probably done a P2V(Physical to Virtual) conversion on a Windows server, to migrate that system into a virtualized environment. If you’ve got specific NIC settings – such as Static IP, DNS, etc. – those have to be recreated on the new virtual NIC. You also have the duty of cleaning up all the non-present hardware of the system after the conversion is finished in order to get respectable boot times, and better stability inside of Windows.

There are a lot of repetitive tasks, so I decided to put all those common commands in a batch script. Things should be self-explanatory but let me know if you have questions. Note: Fully works only on Windows 2003 server

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VMware Server 2 on Linux Host with Parallel Port Passthrough

ParallelPort

Not being too familiar with linux printing, I blindly assumed that as long as the parallel port worked in the Linux host OS, that parallel port passthrough would work just fine. So, I proceeded to add a virtual parallel port to my Windows VM running on VMware Server 2.0.1 under CentOS 5.3.

I soon realized that this wasn’t as easy as it seemed. CentOS printed test pages, etc. just fine from the host using the device /dev/lp0. However, VMware wanted to use the device /dev/parport0 – actually, I really didn’t have an option as it was simply a drop-down menu and not a simply text field to enter whichever device I wanted to specify.
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Ubuntu 8.10 and VMware Workstation 6.5 – Virtual Unity

UPDATE: Read full post for the edit containing a much better alternative!

I am loving the new VMware Workstation 6.5 with Unity mode(among other features) I hope to be rid of the need for a dedicated boot entry for Windows. If you haven’t checked it out yet, Unity mode alows you to have access to your Guest OS’ applications menu in order to start and run those apps in the ‘space’ of your Host OS’ desktop. Not the most technical explanation, but it essentially allows the focus to be on what you’re doing with your VM as opposed to the OS itself – cool stuff.

Which brings me to the reason for this post – it seems as though the latest release of Ubuntu (Intrepid Ibex – 8.10) doesn’t play well with VMware Workstation(or vice versa). Then throw in the added complication of an Acer laptop that I’m dealing with (TravelMate 3260), and it becomes more complex.

Of course I searched around the internet for answers, and found bits and pieces. I was able to fix my keymap issue here. I made use of compiz-check to verify my hardware was capable of running Compiz and then installed it.

So, now I am pretty much set, from what I have read and can tell that I should be able to utilize Unity mode in my VM now. (Of course, I have already created my Windows XP VM, installed updates/VMware Tools, etc.)

Well, I booted up the VM and once it was up and ready, clicked the Unity button. I was finally ready to try this puppy out. VMware Workstation minimized and the Unity “Start” button was created at the top left, just under the top Applications bar in Ubuntu. I clicked the button for my VM and… nothing! It did absolutely nothing. Well, the first thing I tried to do was bring up my VMware Workstation window again, and it came up all gray and was basically not responding.

Well, this was all after a bit of time trying to get this thing to work, so I was dissapointed. I searched the net again to no avail, just turning up post after post of different people having the same issues (apparently not this guy). So, I tried different combinations of VM settings in displays, Unity settings, etc. It still would just show the button, almost defiantly.

I decided to try something else – I noticed that while in VMware Workstation preferences, there are a couple options that are grayed out unless you are running VMware Workstation as root. So, I opened up a terminal and ran:

sudo /usr/bin/vmware

It opened up the VMware Workstation window, and I started my Windows VM once more. I just knew it was going to work this time. Once loaded I again pressed the Unity button and it minimized VMware Workstation; leaving my Unity Menu at the top left again. I pressed the Menu button this time with added confidence, only to find that the result was the same.

However, I noticed that in the terminal window, there was a message:

VMware Workstation Hint:
A language-specific mapping from X keysyms to machine scancodes will be used,
based on the detected keyboard type of "us101", because you are not using an
XFree86 server running on the local machine.
However, this program's language-specific mapping may not be correct for your
keyboard in all the details, because X keyboard mappings vary.
You can override specific key mappings in the virtual-machine configuration.
For more information, please see VMware Workstation documentation available
on our Web site at "http://vmware.com/info?id=10".

0) OK

Please choose a number [0-0]:

Obviously, I had grown weary of this “Hint” earlier on and had already set it to not show this again. As soon as I typed in 0 and hit Enter, a game of Solataire popped up on my screen in all it’s Compiz-enabled, Windows 95 prowess.

I was finally enjoying Unity mode and bouncing back and forth between windows(literally), apps, OSes. It was a touching moment to see such vastly different OS models come together like that!

Ok, maybe not that touching, but it’s sure nice to have my proprietary apps running side by side with the open-source goodness that it Linux.

Anyone else have issues like this? Any tips, or suggestions? I am just glad I got this far on it, as I’m by no means a Linux guru. Maybe this will help some others that have struggled with the same issues as I.

Kudos to VMware for another slick release of Workstation, and Ubuntu with a nice release of Interpid Ibex – And to all those whose information helped me along the way, Thank You!

EDIT: Just as an update to anyone reading this, I found out that there is a much better way to do this. Instead of using the “xkeymap.nokeycodeMap” line in your VMware workstation config file, if you manually specify the keymap instead of simply having it ignore it, you can actually run Workstation 6.5 as your user and no need to have a terminal window open, so it’s much more fluid.

Look at this post on the VMware Community site.

Hope this helps someone!