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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.

24 Comments

  1. Luc on November 11, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    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



  2. Mike on November 11, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the tip Luc. I’ll try that.



  3. Rob on November 17, 2006 at 12:56 am

    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.



  4. Michael on December 20, 2006 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks very much for the tip. I was having identical issues and now its working.



  5. John on January 5, 2007 at 3:46 am

    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!



  6. Andy on January 11, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    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



  7. Isaac Chapman on March 23, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    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



  8. Sami on July 27, 2007 at 5:25 am

    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.



  9. Shady on August 3, 2007 at 5:31 am

    Thanks! ya mine was hanging on “Setup is starting Windows 2000” the processor1.use = “FALSE” line did the trick



  10. alasdair on March 5, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    spot on thanks – saved me from a whole heap of trouble



  11. Günther on March 20, 2008 at 9:37 am

    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 ..



  12. Remco on April 18, 2008 at 7:40 am

    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



  13. Andrew Minor on April 30, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Excellent, thanks! You’ve saved me lots of work!



  14. Rodrigo P. Telles on June 9, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Man, you saved my day! Thanks a lot!



  15. Andy Cummin on July 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks…yet another person in your debt!!



  16. Nirjhar on July 27, 2008 at 6:37 am

    thnx….ur tip is very handful to me…….i really needed win2k for running legacy applications



  17. Dirk Jan on August 17, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you! This works for me. !



  18. Jules on September 3, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    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.



  19. Kiki on September 12, 2008 at 7:14 am

    Thanks very much!!!! You made my day!!!



  20. aApe on September 24, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    hell yeah. not done with the install yet, but it looks like this did the trick. thanks bro!



  21. Nikolai Primelles on October 6, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Yeap, that was it! Thank you



  22. Stephane on November 21, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks for the tip, it worked fine 🙂



  23. Johnathon Hurcombe on February 25, 2010 at 5:28 am

    it didnt work for me i have an AMD ATHLON 64 and i cant even install VMWARE



  24. Mike Taber on February 26, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Johnathon, if you can’t install it, then this solution doesn’t apply to you. It’s only for after you’ve installed VMWare and are trying to get a virtual machine running.



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