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VMWare and AMD X2's

I use VMWare... a lot. As I commented to on of my readers, I use a lot of different operating systems in my business, including: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003, SUSE Linux, Red Hat Linux, Solaris, HPUX and AIX. This list doesn't include the various service pack levels, or kernel versions that each of these OS's might have, nor does it include additional dedicated 'machines' that I use for hosting heavy duty applications like Exchange Server, SQL Server 2k and 2k5, Oracle, mySQL, etc.

My work depends on me testing the code I write against different operating systems. For example, the find command works slightly differently from AIX 5.1 to AIX 5.3. Doesn't seem like a big deal until you're working with a large financial company and they demand that the script you wrote works on both versions perfectly. Oh, and it has to be the same script... and they don't know which machines they're running it on, so the script needs to figure it out and do the right thing because they won't install different scripts to different machines.

So, recently as I've used my office in Worcester more and more, I've been making a concentrated effort to move my primary resources into the office. That includes my servers. Right now, I have a much older Windows 2000 Server running many of my applications, and up until recently, it ran my website. But yesterday I had the revelation that moving that server completely into a virtual machine would probably make a lot of sense. The fact is, the hardware isn't really all that great. The server doesn't do a lot anymore other than run SQL Server and act as a test machine for various web based projects that I work on. So yesterday around noon, I started doing just that.

Six hours later, it still wasn't done. The VMWare image wouldn't boot. I didn't understand. I'd created Windows 2000 Server images before, on both my desktop and on my laptop. What gives? Maybe the disk was bad. Nope. My desktop and rackmount server could read it just fine. In fact, it got most of the way through the install several times before it would just hang. After fussing with it for a couple more hours this morning, and poring over VMWare's website, I finally found the problem.

VMWare + Windows 2000 Server + AMD X2 processors don't mix.

At least not without a mild modification. Back when I decided to go with rackmount servers for my business, I looked at a lot of different rackmount machines from various vendors before I came to the conclusion that it would be far less expensive for me to build, rather than buy. I was going to save myself around $750 per machine, and since I was buying three of them, I knew it would be worth it. Now, I don't have much against Dell, but for the sake of having a company to pick on, the fact that they're the number one PC distributor makes them a big target. I own a lot of Dell equipment. Mostly monitors, cases, and printers. Oh, and monitors.

But I'm not going to pay far above market value just so that I can get the Dell logo on my machine. Thanks anyway, but the time investment on my part was worth $2,250. So, I built three servers, and decided that I really wanted AMD Athlon X2 4400's with 4GB of RAM, RAID 1 drives, etc.

These are great machines, but it would appear that it really bit me in the butt this time. In an effort to save at least one other person the hassle:

If you're installing Windows 2000 Server on VMWare Virtual Server hosted on a box with Athlon X2's in it and you're having trouble during the install because the setup is hanging during one of the many blue background setup screens, stop the installation and power off the machine. Find the .vmx file, open it in notepad or some other text editor and add this line:

processor1.use = "FALSE"

Save, and restart the machine. Everything should start installing properly. It seems that this disables the second processor, as Windows 2000 isn't real happy about booting up with a second virtual CPU. It's been a very long time since I installed Windows 2000 Server directly on a machine with two physical processors, so I don't recall if there's anything special that needed to be done during setup. In any case, I hope at least one person finds this little tip useful. If so, you're welcome.

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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

try to install SP4 and then re-enable all processors.

I think that back in the old days you had to press f5 during the first seconds of the install to choose a multiprocessor kernel

when your box is already installed, follow this article:
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&objectID=tis05893


don'T forget to install sp4 11/11/2006 7:05 AM | Luc
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks for the tip Luc. I'll try that. 11/11/2006 1:23 PM | Mike
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks very much. I was having hangups at the blue installation screen where it says "Setup is starting Windows 2000" or something like that, and your recommendation made the change that let me proceed. 11/16/2006 7:56 PM | Rob
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks very much for the tip. I was having identical issues and now its working. 12/20/2006 11:39 AM | Michael
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks for the tip. I installed windows 2k3 r2 on windows xp pro with amd x2 3800+. So far I haven't had any stability problems.

From reading other posts on the internet, it seems that some socket 939 x2 boards have problem running vmware. Particularly Asus boards. I currently have a MSI board.

I'll definitely keep your tips in mind as I could potentially run into problems too!


1/4/2007 10:46 PM | John

# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks So Much, I have been dealing with this problem for a week now and couldn't figure it out. Works like a charm, at first I thought it wasn't going to work but it takes about 20 - 30 seconds to move from the starting windows 2000 message to the install.

Thanks again 1/11/2007 1:56 PM | Andy

# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

A more reliable solution from my experience is to slipstream service pack 4 onto the Windows 2000 installation media:
http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=295 3/23/2007 2:28 PM | Isaac Chapman

# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Hi,

I was trying to install windows 2000 on VMWare workstation 6 and I was facing the same problem. To make matter worse, I didnt even find the entry 'processor1.use = "FALSE" ' in the config. file(.vmx).

So, all I did was copied the entry into the config file and now it works.

Thanks for the help. 7/27/2007 1:25 AM | Sami

# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks! ya mine was hanging on "Setup is starting Windows 2000" the processor1.use = "FALSE" line did the trick 8/3/2007 1:31 AM | Shady
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

spot on thanks - saved me from a whole heap of trouble 3/5/2008 5:59 PM | alasdair
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Oh man .. you saved my life!!
I recently changed my hardware from a P4 to a Athlon X2 and afterwards couldn't install any Virtual Machine running Windows (not just 2000 Server but also 2000 Professional and XP Professional) anymore .. and because these are production systems it was pretty bad for me .. 3/20/2008 5:37 AM | Günther
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

thanks a lot for the tip, I have to do migration from 2000 to 2003 and for testing I use vmware, I have a laptop with a turion x2 and setup was hanging at "setup is starting windows 2000" . but now I can go on testing,

1000 times thanks 4/18/2008 3:40 AM | Remco
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Excellent, thanks! You've saved me lots of work! 4/30/2008 5:26 PM | Andrew Minor
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Man, you saved my day! Thanks a lot! 6/9/2008 5:41 PM | Rodrigo P. Telles
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks...yet another person in your debt!! 7/17/2008 10:43 AM | Andy Cummin
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

thnx....ur tip is very handful to me.......i really needed win2k for running legacy applications 7/27/2008 2:37 AM | Nirjhar

# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thank you! This works for me. ! 8/17/2008 9:08 AM | Dirk Jan
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# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thankyou.
FYI its not just W2k. I have VM5 running on XP Pro on AMD X2 and Asus hardware and have been battling the scsi.c:972 bugNr=18648 error.
It would run fine for 15+ mins - then suddenly hang. I was at the point of switching back to my old intel box when I came across this post.
I applied the line to my vmx file and since, its been up and stable all day. 9/3/2008 12:09 PM | Jules

# re: VMWare and AMD X2's

Thanks very much!!!! You made my day!!! 9/12/2008 3:14 AM | Kiki

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