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vmware 2.0 startup problems (and a solution)

A few weeks ago I installed Vmware Server 2.0 Beta 1. I noted a regression from vmware server 1.3 (and 1.2) that "raw disks" were seemingly not supported. The workaround was to manually edit the 'vmx' file for the virtual machine to add the old entries which exposed raw disks to vmware.

Tonight, I rebooted my server after accidentally powering it off while cleaning dust off of the intake vents, and vmware didn't start back up. Technically, all of the startup scripts (/etc/init.d/vmware) ran fine and reported no errors, but I couldn't connect to the management interface on port 8333. Netstat output confirmed that nothign was listening on this port. Crap.

After grepping around in various places, I figured that the tomcat server that comes with vmware (named webAccess) had no intentions on listening to port 8333, and this was normal. I checked /var/log/ for anything useful, and found /var/log/vmware. In this directory, was a set of hostd-N.log files, where N is a number. In hostd-0.log, was this entry (the entry below is truncated for readability):

[2008-01-08 21:31:23.790 'vm:/vmdisks/vms/filer (solaris 64bit)/filer (solaris 64bit
).vmx' 47879793637584 warning] Disk was not opened successfully. Backing type unknow
n: 0
[2008-01-08 21:31:23.790 'vm:/vmdisks/vms/filer (solaris 64bit)/filer (solaris 64bit
).vmx' 47879793637584 warning] Disk was not opened successfully. Backing type unknow
n: 0
[2008-01-08 21:31:23.791 'App' 47879793637584 error] 

Exception: ASSERT /build/mts/release/bora-63231/bfg-atlantis/bora/vim/hostd/vmsvc/vm

[2008-01-08 21:31:23.794 'App' 47879793637584 error] Backtrace:
<actual backtrace snipped>
Keep in mind, that even though vmware-hostd was failing, /etc/init.d/vmware reported success for every operation. Eek.

So, I went to my filer vmx file and commented out the rawDisk entries and restarted vmware (with the init script). No more failures were logged in hostd-0.log, and a subsequent netstat showed vmware-hostd listening on port 8333. Peachy.

Back on my windows box, I ran the vmware console, and guess what happens... I can now manage my vmware sessions again.

I can only hope that VMware decides to allow raw, local disk access in the finished version of vmware 2.0, because I am rather dependent on it. If they don't, I might be able to get away with moving the data out of the zfs pool, initializing the drives with some random linux file system, and creating a 500gig vmware virtual drive on each disk, and finally telling Solaris to fix its zfs stuff. Since I don't have too much data there, I might be able to get away with draining one disk out of the zfs pool, and doing the conversion from raw to virtual disk one physical disk at a time. Might be a useful exercise in learning zfs more.

I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.