VMware Server not quite upward compatible?

I’m using two VMs on a regular basis on my desktop. One runs Windows XP with the standard set of software according to the guidelines of the IT department, the standard company client. This VM still originates from the time, when VMware Workstation 4.2.x was more or less current. The other VM was created with an earlier beta of the recently released free VMware Server 1.0. running on some (“stronger”) server HW in the datacenter. This VM is installed with a clean Windows XPSP2 and all patches released from MS to date. After installation this VM was moved to my desktop PC by copying all files belonging to this VM. On my PC I’ve been using these two VMs with the VMware Player.

Since VMware Server was released and since Gentoo recently provided the Ebuilds for the installation of the Server on a Gentoo system, I replaced the beta version with the released version. To unload my PC somewhat, I thought I’ll run my two VMs under VMware Server on some fat HW in the datacenter. However, this didn’t work. The VM hung with a black screen in the console. The problem was so sever, that the console software even lost connection to the actual server process and I needed to kill -9 the main server process. Creating a new VM and installing it from scratch worked like a charm, but my two older VMs couldn’t be convinced to run.

I finally created two new VMs with the same parameters as my existing twos. Then I booted my two VMs in turn from a Knoppix-CD and transferred the NTFS file system images via ntfsclone and netcat to the server in the datacenter. Then I booted the new VMs also from a Knoppix ISO and transferred the NTFS images into the VMware discs, again with nftsclone and netcat. After installing a new MBR I was all set. Now the new VMs ran just fine with the file system images from my old VMs.

Last step was to install the new VMware tools into the two Windows VMs. However this was only 50% successful. The tools installed and ran correctly in the VM with company set of software. The other VM with the clean XP installation paniced during boot and ran in an endless reboot cycle after installation of the tools. Therefore I transferred the file system images again. Then I didn’t update the tools software, so this one still runs the older VMware tools. I’m going to experiment in the time to come. This should be fairly simple, since the VMware Server allows one snapshot of the discs. So, it should be easy to roll back, if the problem persists. And I need to consult the VMware web site in more detail to see, if this problem is already known.

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