VMware – Fixing “Invalid” Virtual Machines

In either ESX 3.x or vSphere, if there are disk array or networking issues, some Virtual Machines may appear in the vSphere Client as being “Invalid” and they are greyed out. To fix these VM’s, we have been able to follow the below steps successfully. We tried steps as given to us from VMware support and various other steps that we found on Google (including restarting the VMware Management services on the ESX host) but after finding some of the steps below off the VMware Community Forums (which worked for us) here’s the procedure we came up with.

1.  via the VI Client, make a note of the invalid VM name, the ESX host it lives on, and the datastore where the VM’s files are (all from the ‘summary’ page of the VM).

2.  Remove the invalid VM from inventory (by Right clicking on the VM and choosing “Remove from Inventory).

3.  SSH (with Putty or some other method) into the ESX host (from step 1), cd into the datastore volume (from above), rename the ‘vm-name’.vmxf file (note it is the vmxf file, not the vmx file) to something else.

4.  Connect the VI Client to the specific ESX host (from step 1, not your vCenter Server), browse the datastore (from step 1), find the ‘vm-name’.vmx file, right click and ‘add to inventory’

5.  In the main VI Client connected to your vCenter Server, power on the VM, which should now be available and no longer “invalid” and greyed out.

You can also do the rename of the .vmxf file from within the VI Client that’s connected to vCenter.  Just identify everything from step 1, above, remove the invalid VM from inventory, browse the datastore, right click the vmxf file, rename it, add the vmx file to inventory, power up the VM.  Seems to work great all within the VI Client.

VMware vSphere – Using VMware Converter to Import VM’s or VMDK’s From Other VMware Products

When using Virtual Machines (VM’s) from other VMware products, the easiest way to get these VM’s into ESX/vSphere is to use VMware’s product called vCenter Converter Standalone. vCenter Server does include a version of Converter, however I’ve had better success in using the standalone version to do VM conversions as it is (typically) a newer version with more features than the one included with vCenter. This lesson describes how to use vCenter Converter Standalone to import VM’s or VMDK files from other VMware Products, such as VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and VMware Server.

Powering On VM – Error with VMDK Files

We experienced the shown error when trying to power on a few virtual machines from a vendor of ours. I assumed that the VM’s were in ESX/vSphere format, but I guess they are not. It looks like we’ll need to convert the VMDK’s to the ESX/vSphere format so that we can use them.

Error Message:
Failed to find a host for powering on the Virtual Machine. The following faults explain why the registered host is not compatible.
Device ‘Hard Disk 1’ uses a controller that is not supported. This is a general limitation of the virtual machine’s virtual hardware version on the selected host.
Device ‘Hard Disk 2″ has a backing type that is not supported. This is a general limitation of the virtual machine’s virtual hardware version on the selected host.

Verifying the VMDK is not in an ESX/vSphere Format

We SSH’ed into the vSphere server and browsed to the VMFS datastore that holds our Virtual Machine. As shown in the screenshot, we can tell the VMDK is not an ESX/vSphere compatible VMDK for the following reasons:
1- There is no “-flat.vmdk” file, which all ESX/vSphere type of VMDK’s should have.
2- There are VMDK “slices” as shown in the screenshot (1). ESX/vSphere VMDK’s do not use this type of disk format (where other VMware products such as Workstation and Server do).
You can use VMware Converter to fix this issue by converting the VM to an ESX/vSphere compatible VM.

IDE VMDK – Not Supported in ESX/vSphere

An error that you might receive when using a VM from another product is:
An IDE controller is found but the virtual machine does not support the option.
The reason that this fails is that ESX/vSphere does not support IDE based Virtual Disks (VMDK’s) like the Desktop/Hosted products do. You can use VMware Converter to fix this error by converting the VM to an ESX/vSphere compatible VM.

Flat Backing Option Not Found


An error that you might receive when using a VM from another product is:
A flat backing option was not found.
The reason for this error is that ESX/vSphere is looking for a virtual disk file (VMDK) that actually points to a -flat.vmdk file. The Desktop/Hosted products do not use this type of Virtual Disk but ESX/vSphere does. You can use VMware Converter to fix this error by converting the VM to an ESX/vSphere compatible VM.

Sparse Backing Info Disk Option Not Found

Another error that you might receive when using a VM from another product is:
A SparseVer2BackingInfo disk is found but the virtual machine does not support the option.
This error is shown because this virtual disk uses a “sparse” feature on the virtual disk, so as not to take up a lot of space on the drive. Usually the VMDK file will also be “split” into multiple VMDK files that end in a -0001, -0002 and so on. This is done to limit the size of the VMDK. ESX/vSphere does very similiar options with VMDK files however it is done differently. This is the reason for the error shown. You can use VMware Converter to fix this error by converting the VM to an ESX/vSphere compatible VM.

Download VMware vCenter Converter Standalone Edition

First you’ll need to get vCenter Converter Standalone, which is available for FREE at the following location:
Once you’ve downloaded the program, install it on a server that you can use for the migrations. I usually install it on my vCenter server but that’s not a requirement. Once installed, go ahead and start vCenter Converter Standalone.

Convert Machine

Once the program starts, choose “Convert Machine” to get started.

Selecting Source for Conversion

First, select the source type, which in our case will be a “VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine” (1). Then browse to where the virtual machine is located at (2). This will need to be on a network share or on a local drive so that Converter can access the files. Then choose the Next button to proceed (3).

Selecting Destination for Conversion

Select the destination type, which in our case will be a “VMware Infrastructure Virtual Machine” (1). Then specify either an ESX/vSphere server or a vCenter Server along with the required login information for that host (2). Then select “Next” to proceed (3).

Now, specify the Virtual Machine name (1), the destination Datastore (2) and then click “Next” to proceed (3).
Note, that if you use “Version 7” for the Virtual Machine hardware version, you will not be able to use this VM on anything but vSphere 4. If you need to use this VM on ESX 3.x then choose “Version 4” for the Virtual Machine hardware version.

VM Options

This screen will show various options that you can specify for the newly created Virtual Machine. Your options may differ or you may want to change a few thinggs here depending on your environment. A couple of options that I normally select is under “Advanced Options” (1). Select the option to “Power on target Machine” (2) and to also “Install VMware Tools on the imported Virtual Machine” (3). This will automatically startup and install VMware tools on the new virtual machine after the cloning process is finished. Next, click on the “Next” button (4) to proceed.

Wizard Summary

A summary screen is displayed. If you need to edit any of the options on this screen, you’ll need to back up through the wizard to that specific area. If you are ready to proceed, click on the “Finish” button to begin the conversion process.

Running Conversion

You can check the status of the conversion by following the “Status” area for the conversion job. You can also use the “Task Progress” tab to see more detailed information about the conversion.

Conversion Completed

Once the conversion is completed, you’ll see the status of the job change to “Completed”.

Now, you can use the vSphere Client to log into your vSphere (or ESX) environment and you will see your newly created Virtual Machine, which has already been powered up successfully.

Using the Fastest DNS Servers Possible

It probably doesn’t apply to most of our readers/customers at work, but at home it sure might.

I saw an article saying that Google released some public DNS servers that are supposed to be super fast, which will speed up your web browsing experience.

Now, here’s an article that mentions a tool called “Namebench” which will search for the fastest DNS servers based on your network and location and will list them for you (if that be Google’s or someone else’s’).


 I ran it at home and it showed my fastest DNS servers were one from Level 3 and one from Comodo Secure DNS (faster than Comcasts’ DNS servers). So I changed my Linksys router at home to use these 2 DNS servers on the WAN link and also setup my DHCP scope to use my router plus these DNS servers. The results are noticeable– browsing is way faster and I’d recommend checking it out!

Release: VMware Fusion 3.0.1

Fusion 3.0.1 was released this morning. For those running on 3.0, the auto-update-check should let you know that a new version is available. You can download the new version here.

Sure hope this improves the performance with Fusion. I’ve actually switched over to Parallels Desktop v5 as it was way faster for me. I’ll reimport my VM into Fusion and will report back how things look.

Thanks to VMGuy.com for the detailed info below.
As always, here’s the what’s new from the release notes:
VMware Fusion 3.0.1 is a maintenance release of VMware Fusion 3. It is a free upgrade for all VMware Fusion 3 customers, and provides the following enhancements and fixes:

Highlighted New and Improved Features

  • Faster 3D performance, with Windows Experience scores 20-80% faster than before on Mac OS X Snow Leopard
  • Reduced time for resuming virtual machines
  • Supports import of standalone VHD disks into VMware virtual machines
  • Supports import of Parallels Desktop 5 virtual machines into VMware virtual machines
  • New 64-bit native networking subsystem to match the 64-bit native engine
  • PC Migration Agent and Migration Assistant Improvements
  • Adds support for Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Installer localized into all supported languages
  • Shows progress that VMware Tools are being installed in last step of migrating the PC
  • Does not automatically show the PC Migration Agent application in the resulting virtual machine
  • Adds only one network adapter to imported PC virtual machines
  • Unity View Improvements
  • “Always On” Applications menu defaults to the active virtual machine, and if more than one virtual machine is running, the menu defaults to the one that has focus
  • Fixes a problem in which the “Always On” Application menu was not populated in some cases
  • Improves the Aero-in-Unity experience with better interactive performance and easier readability of window titles
  • Improves Unity view interactive performance for 32-bit Windows applications running on 64-bit Windows operating systems
  • Ability to dismiss system tray menus in Unity view with only one click
  • Small mouse wheel scroll increments work correctly in Unity view
  • Fixes keyboard focus issues in Unity view when multiple windows are opened and closed
  • Fixes a problem in which Adobe Fireworks, Photoshop, and some other applications would drop out of Unity view, causing the Waiting for Unity window to appear
  • Fixes a problem in which VMware Fusion would fail when processing very large icons from Windows applications
  • Fixes a problem in which VMware Fusion could not create Windows applications in the dock for those with really long application names
  • Shared/Mirrored Folders Improvements
  • Outlook 2007 preview works with Mirrored Folders enabled
  • Applications no longer crash when saving exceedingly long path and file names with mapped drives
  • Saving files in shared folders with a PC using ZoneAlarm antivirus software no longer causes Windows to fail
  • WDDM (Windows Vista and Windows 7) Graphics Improvements
  • Windows Experience graphics scores are 20-80% better than VMware Fusion 3.0
  • Greatly improved HD video playback for Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Older games (including Diablo II, Homeworld, and others) play now on Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Windows Media Player no longer stretches video
  • Fuzzy text in Windows Aero is fixed
  • Interactive performance on ATI video cards with Aero is greatly improved in combination with Mac OS X 10.6.2
  • Windows 7 no longer boots to an incorrect resolution

General Graphics Improvements

  • Fixes fuzzy text in WPF applications
  • Improved 3D performance
  • Linux Improvements
  • Adds support for Ubuntu 9.10 32-bit and 64-bit editions, including Easy Install and Unity view
  • Fixes choppy sound problems with newest Linux guests with kernel version 2.6.30+
  • Fixes Easy Install problems when double quotes were used in password
  • Improves Tools support for latest 2.6.z kernels
  • FreeBSD Improvements
  • Prebuilt modules for FreeBSD 8.x
  • Mac OS X Server Improvements
  • Faster boot times for Mac OS X Server guests
  • Other Fixes and Improvements
  • Multicore support for Windows 7 works correctly for all editions of Windows 7. Previously it did not work for Windows Home Premium, Home Basic, and Starter editions
  • Fixes a performance problem in which Spotlight would continually search the Mac for virtual machines when the Virtual Machine Library was left open, causing slow downs
  • Fixes a problem in which the VMware Tools included with VMware Fusion 2.0.5 would not be updated correctly
  • Fixes a problem in which it was not possible to use a CD drive on certain hardware-specific versions of Mac OS X 10.6.1. This is also fixed by upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6.2
  • Fixes a problem in which the ThinPrint driver would cause printing problems in 64-bit Windows Boot Camp partitions
  • Favorite virtual machine opens correctly when launching VMware Fusion 3
  • Contains a fix for Link State Propagation for bridged networking that previously failed, in some cases, after installing VMware Fusion 3.0
  • Fixes a problem in which you could not switch Spaces desktops away from a full-screen virtual machine if the Full Screen view title bar was hidden
  • Fixes miscellaneous memory leaks in the VMware Fusion UI and during AutoProtect snapshots
  • Speeds up navigation in the Virtual Machine Library when you have 10 or more virtual machines
  • Removes console log spew by VMware Fusion Helper
  • In the Preview window, the View mode buttons show enabled and selected state
  • Fixes black flash when suspending a virtual machine in Single Window view
  • Virtual Machine Library and Preview window previously had poor quality for European language users

Release: VMware ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 5

This has been covered on all the major virtualization blogs, but I wanted to post the links here for our customers as well.

Download link: http://downloads.vmware.com/d/info/datacenter_downloads/vmware_infrastructure_3/3_5

Here’s what’s new from the release notes:

Enablement of Intel Xeon Processor 3400 Series – Support for the Intel Xeon processor 3400 series has been added. Support includes Enhanced VMotion capabilities. For additional information on previous processor families supported by Enhanced VMotion, see Enhanced VMotion Compatibility (EVC) processor support (KB 1003212).

Driver Update for Broadcom bnx2 Network Controller – The driver for bnx2 controllers has been upgraded to version 1.6.9. This driver supports bootcode upgrade on bnx2 chipsets and requires bmapilnx and lnxfwnx2 tools upgrade from Broadcom. This driver also adds support for Network Controller – Sideband Interface (NC-SI) for SOL (serial over LAN) applicable to Broadcom NetXtreme 5709 and 5716 chipsets.

Driver Update for LSI SCSI and SAS Controllers – The driver for LSI SCSI and SAS controllers is updated to version 2.06.74. This version of the driver is required to provide a better support for shared SAS environments.

Newly Supported Guest Operating Systems – Support for the following guest operating systems has been added specifically for this release:

For more complete information about supported guests included in this release, see the VMware Compatibility Guide: http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?deviceCategory=software.

  • Windows 7 Enterprise (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Professional (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Standard Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter Edition (64-bit)
  • Windows 2008 R2 Web Server (64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Desktop 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Ubuntu Server 9.04 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Newly Supported Management Agents – See VMware ESX Server Supported Hardware Lifecycle Management Agents for current information on supported management agents.

Newly Supported Network Cards – This release of ESX Server supports HP NC375T (NetXen) PCI Express Quad Port Gigabit Server Adapter. <!– (PR 387968) –>

Newly Supported SATA Controllers – This release of ESX Server supports the Intel Ibex Peak SATA AHCI controller.

  • Some limitations apply in terms of support for SATA controllers. For more information, see SATA Controller Support in ESX 3.5. (KB 1008673)
  • Storing VMFS datastores on native SATA drives is not supported.