May 13, 2008
Tip and Trick Editorial

Workaround to Run VMWare Server on Windows Vista

VMWare Server does not officially support installing on host operating system which is Windows Vista. The lack of support applicable from VMWare Server 1.0 to latest version 1.0.5 or VMWare Server 2.0 Beta 2 or later. However, the installation of VMWare Server can run and complete successfully. And more importantly, users can add, create, run virtual machines (VM) successfully. So do functions that associate with virtual machines, such as CD-ROM/DVD-ROM mounting, memory allocation, keyboard and mouse integration, and etc.

Able to run successfully and properly doesn’t mean that VMWare Server is trouble free in Windows Vista. Microsoft introduces User Account Control (UAC) in Windows Vista in order to tighten the access security control. It works by run applications without the administrative privileges even if user log on as an administrator. This restriction is the main cause the gives VMWare Server some minor issue when installing and running in Windows Vista.

To make sure that VMWare can run without error in Windows Vista, the best workaround is to disable User Account Control (UAC) in Windows Vista. Disable User Access Control ensure that all programs is running in full administrative privileges with all access rights.

If you’re not willing to disable UAC, then run the VMWare Server as administrator, including its setup installer (normally Windows Vista will automatically prompt user to elevate the installer to administrator’s privilege, so it’s not necessary to explicitly run the setup installer as administrator). But make sure that an unsigned driver installation is allowed towards the end of the installation, and restart the computer after installation.

Disable UAC or running VMWare Server Console homepage as administrator on elevation mode potentially fix user name and password denied or not accepted error in VMWare Server 2.0.

Normal usage of VMWare Server and its Console do not necessary requires elevation to administrative level of rights. The main issue is when user attempts to change VMWare Network parameter and probably some other parameters and settings that won’t changed or saved if VMWare is not running as administrator. If you encounter such issue, then quit from VMWare Console and re-run it as administrator.

Above observations are correct for 32-bit Windows Vista (x86). For 64-bit Windows Vista (x64) as a host to VMWare Server, situation is much more complicated. VMWare Server is not Microsoft certified and is not digitally signed, and hence will not be loaded and started by Windows Vista x64. The workaround is troublesome, but it’s currently the only workaround available, that is to disable signed drive enforcement and allows unsigned drive to load and start. To do so, users have to press F8 when system boots up, and select “Disable Signed Drive Enforcement” option on every startup.

Beside, also check out the hang and not responsive issue when using VMWare Server 1.0 on Vista.

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