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VMware Server 2.0 Beta

I upgraded my vmware machine from vmware 1.3 to vmware 2.0 beta. The install process was great by comparison to the last two releases. This install was much nicer than the previous one for simple reasons that I didn't have to hack the perl script to not misbehave, and I didn't have to mess around compiling or finding my own vmware kernel modules. Everything Just Worked during the install.

On the downside, vmware-server-console is deprecated. Vmware Server 2.0 uses Vmware Infrastructure, which appears to be tomcat+xmlrpc and other things. The New Order seems to be that you manage your vms with the webbrowser, which isn't a bad idea. However, we must remember that Good Ideas do not always translate into Good Implementations.

The web interface looks fancy, but the code looks like it's from 1998. The login window consists of layers and layers of nested tables and a pile of javascript all in the name of getting the login window centered in the browser. You can see the page align itself upon rendering even on my 2gHz workstation with Firefox. Horrible.

Once you log in, you're presented with a visually-useful-but-still-runs-like-shit interface. The interface itself appears useful and nice, but again fails to respond quickly presumably due to the piles of poorly written javascript involved.

Since VMware thought this was a fresh install, it didn't know about any of my old virtual machines. Adding them using the web interface causes vmware to crash. Oops. So, I found a vmware infrastructure client executable randomly in the package; "find ./ -name '*.exe'" will find it for you. Copied this to my windows box and installed it. I used this tool to re-add my old vmware machines.

Unfortunately, "raw disks" are disabled in this free version of vmware server. I'm not sure why. My Solaris VM uses raw disks for its zfs pool, so this was a problem. Luckily, this is purely a gui limitation and not a vmware limitation. To repair my Solaris VM, I created a new virtual machine with the same features and told it where it's first disk lived (the first disk was a normal file-backed vmware disk image). After that, I looked at the old vm's .vmx file and copied in the lines detailing the raw drives to the new .vmx file:

scsi0:1.present = "true"
scsi0:1.filename = "zfs-sdb.vmdk"
scsi0:1.deviceType = "rawDisk"
scsi0:2.present = "true"
scsi0:2.filename = "zfs-sdc.vmdk"
scsi0:2.deviceType = "rawDisk"

Everything's backup and running sanely now in vmware. Hurray :)