VMWare drama, day 2

Yesterday, things went wrong on the company’s Ubuntu-based VMWare server (See post of yesterday under Technology, VMWare).  This morning, all problems seemed to be a thing of the past until VMware decided to cross my working schedule again – I couldn’t make a connection to the VMWare Server 2 administration site.  Because Firefox – my browser of choice – was being a a pain in the neck, for a few seconds I thought that Firefox was the problem.  After trying to log in with 3 different browsers it was obvious that VMWare itself was the problem.

I tried to restart VMWare from Ubuntu’s command-line, using the /etc/init.d/vmware restart command, but some of the services failed.  in a dumb move I decided to give the whole server an update, but that plan backfired.  After the update to Ubuntu 8.0.10 was complete (I planned to update to 9.0.4 but apparently that can’t be done without updating to 8.0.10); the server rebooted.  Instead of fixing any problems, new problems were created.

no response from the KVM Switch

We’re only a small company but are still using a Fujitsu Siemens server rack with 4 blade servers (3 active and one waiting for a future task).  In such a setup, the only decent way to monitor the servers if they’re not accessible with a remote desktop solution, is to use a KVM switch, which is built into the rack by default.  But when I accessed the KVM Switch and opened a session with the Ubuntu server, I didn’t see anything.  I didn’t like the “no video” error one bit and walked down to the server room (which is like a noisy sauna these days so I don’t bother going in there when I don’t have to) to use the built-in “computer” – a screen and a keyboard connected directly to the KVM switch.  When opening the Ubuntu session there, I got a different response, which told me more about the problem: the “Out of Range” error learned me that the display settings for the Ubuntu settings were set too high for the KVM Switch to handle.

This odd problem – the display settings were never a problem before updating the Ubuntu OS – had to be fixed.  On the Ubuntu Forums , my savior when suffering from Ubuntu problems, I found the following way to fix it.

  • Reboot the server (In my case, the “power off / power on way using the Button of Doom You Almost Never Use On A Server)
  • Press escape during the boot process when offered by the system
  • In the grub menu, choose Recovery Mode (For some reason I had 2 versions of everything, so I picked the first recovery mode in the list).
  • In the menu you’ll get, choose “Drop to root shell”
  • Log in as root
  • Execute the following:dkpg-reconfigure xserver-conf
  • Go through all steps in the “wizard” that follows.  I just hit “ok” on every screen.
  • Back in the shell, execute init 2
  • Ubuntu loaded, and I accepted the option to start with “limited graphics” which was just fine for me.

Well, that solved that problem, but VMWare still wasn’t working for me.  But at least I had the server back up and running, so I could find out what the delio was.

not_configured…? Are you out of your mind?

I started to do some googling on the VMWare issue and found that someone else also had the same / nearly the same problems with VMWare under Ubuntu. His solution wasn’t my solution – as I didn’t have vmware player installed on the server – but I did suffer from the not_configured drama.  For some reason, the config files of VMWare 2 were a goner or at least not readable by VMWare two.  So I followed the tip in the first or second comment on that page, and ran the following command


This started the configuration wizard for VMWare server that I’ve only seen once before; right after I installed VMWare Server on the box.  I was kind of worried.  Would this mean that I had to do everything over?  Not that it’d be that much of a problem, but my time was limited today.  One advantage was that the Virtual Machines were still in their folder; so if I had to I could have just added them back to the inventory – but I hoped that I wouldn’t have to.

I ran through the wizard and just did what I did the first time, hitting the enter key everywhere to accept default proposed values.  I was glad to see that that got VMWare server working again, but was even more pleased when I logged in to the administration website and saw that all my virtual machines were still there – and in good shape too.  When I tried to start them, they did so without any problems.

I’m glad to see that problem fixed but am kind of worried.  Next week I’m going to look into this some more, I’ve got the idea that VMWare server on Ubuntu isn’t the most stable environment.  It’s probably a good thing that it’s just a testing environment for web sites and web applications, with the occasional site hosted that no-one would miss.