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Author Archives: Bo Fu

VMware Workstation target at the PwnFest hacking competition

VMware Workstation is among the targets of the PwnFest hacking competition. At this event, which is organized along the Power of Community security conference in Seoul, security researchers are demonstrating their attack capabilities. The event is modeled after the well-known Pwn2Own competition.

Earlier today at the event, the 360 Marvel Team and security researcher Lokihardt (JungHoon Lee) used the same issue to demonstrate that they could execute code on the VMware Workstation host from the guest. We have received details on this issue directly from the researchers and we are now working on a solution. We have confirmed that the issue is limited to VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion and that ESXi is not affected.

We would like to thank the organizers of the event, the 360 Marvel Team, and Lokihardt for working with us to address the issue.

November 13 update
Today, we’ve published VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2016-0019 which documents the release of VMware Workstation 12.5.2 and VMware Fusion 8.5.2. These new Workstation and Fusion versions address the issue that was demonstrated at the PwnFest event. The issue has been assigned CVE identifier CVE-2016-7461.

– VMware Security Response Center and VMware Workstation Team

Workstation 10 issue with recent Microsoft Windows 8.1 Update

We noticed that a recent Windows 8.1 Update (KB2995388) may cause issues when running VMware Workstation on a Windows 8.1 host with this update installed. User will see an error message “not enough physical memory” when booting up a virtual machine.

Error_msg

Our team is trying our best to fix this issue with an software update if needed, in the mean time this blog post will talk about the temporary workaround.

This Windows 8.1 Update KB2995388 is labeled as an optional update, if you haven’t installed this update and you are running VMware Workstation on your Windows 8.1 host, we suggest you do not install this update yet.

If you have installed this update and you need to run VMware Workstation, you can follow the steps below to uninstall this update as a temporary solution.

Go to Control Panel -> Programs -> Programs and Features, then select View installed updates at the top left corner.

Control_panel_1

Scroll down the list and locate Update for Microsoft Windows (KB2995388), select it and click on the Uninstall button, and follow the steps to finish the uninstallation, then you can boot virtual machine with no error message displayed.

Control_panel_2

We apologize for the inconvenience and currently are working on a fix to resolve the issue.

Try Windows 10 Tech Preview with VMware Workstation and Fusion

Microsoft has announced the next version of its flagship operating system Windows 10 and released a Technical Preview version on Oct. 1st 2014. Because it’s a preview version, Microsoft recommended to not install it on your primary PC in case of data loss or other problems. VMware Workstation and Fusion is an excellent choice to run Windows 10 Tech Preview from Microsoft, since it provides an isolated virtual environment.

Win10

Due to Windows 10 Tech Preview is not officially supported by VMware Workstation 10, you may need to do some extra steps during the installation, but in general it works very smooth and definitely can help you to experience this future version of Windows from Microsoft. This blog is done with VMware Workstation, but you can do it with VMware Fusion with similar steps.

In the upcoming Workstation 11 release, Windows 10 Tech Preview support will be added and it will provide an even better experience to install, run, and use this operating system. The good news is with the announcement of VMware Workstation 11 on Oct. 1st 2014, you can now buy Workstation 10 and get Workstation 11 for free in December 2014, see here for more details.

To install Windows 10 Tech Preview, first you need to sign up for the Tech Preview program and download the ISO from http://preview.windows.com.

Launch VMware Workstation 10, from the File menu, select New Virtual Machine. In the 1st step of New Virtual Machine Wizard, select Typical Install.

In the next step of the wizard, select Installer disk image file and point to the Windows 10 Tech Preview ISO you just downloaded. Since this Tech Preview version is not supported, it can’t be detected by the wizard. Click Next to proceed.

Select_iso

Here you can select the operating system, since Windows 8 has the similar Windows kernel as Windows 10 Tech Preview, let’s select it as the operating system. Make sure you select x64 or x86 according to the ISO you downloaded.

Select_OS_type

Then follow the step to finish the wizard and kick off the installation.

After accepting the Windows 10 Tech Preview EULA, you can select to install the OS with Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

Custom_install

Make sure create a new partition with the unallocated disk space (size depending on how much you assigned to the virtual machine), and select this newly created partition to install the OS.

Partition_2

Follow the Windows installer instruction to begin the installation, within a few minutes, your Windows 10 Tech Preview will be ready within VMware Workstation 10.

The last step is to install VMware Tools, so you can do dynamic screen resizing, Unity mode and printing. From VM menu, select Install VMware Tools, and follow the steps to finish the installation.

Install_tools

Now you have Windows 10 Tech Preview running in VMware Workstation.

Win10

The majority of functionality works great, but there are a few issues caused by the new mini Start menu and TaskView feature, including:

  • There is a shade of the mini Start menu once enter into Unity mode
  • The TaskView rendering is not correct (workaround: using software render)
  • Bridged network connectivity

For VMware Fusion users, you can also follow these steps to install and experience Windows 10 Tech Preview on your machine with no need to worry about the risk of installing and running an early beta release, hope you enjoy it!

Experience Android KitKat in VMware Workstation

KitKat is the latest Android release from Google with a lot of attractive changes both inside and outside. Before it hits every Android phone out there, you certainly have a new way to experience it with a very simple set up in VMware Workstation 10.

Last week, our team was very excited to see that the latest Android x86 release (a.k.a. 4.4 RC1) supports VMware virtual machines. Details are available in the release note at  http://www.android-x86.org/releases/releasenote-4-4-rc1.

I downloaded the ISO file and successfully set it up to run within Workstation 10 but you need to be aware of a couple tips and tricks. The part that you need to notice during installation is that once the Android ISO file is selected, it will be detected as FreeBSD and 256 MB of memory is assigned by default which was not enough to power on the VM without errors. After a few trials of modifying the memory settings of the VM, I found out that 4 GB of virtual memory could sufficiently make it run in a very smooth style.

Upon successful VM power up you will need to walk through a manual installation of Linux which is not covered in this article. However if during the installation you run into any problem when creating and formatting the disk, here is a brief reference you can use as a guide, https://blogs.vmware.com/workstation/2010/05/google-android-running-on-your-workstation.html. One thing to note is VMware Tools are not supported for Android.

Here is screenshot during successful power up of the KitKat VM before it boots into the GUI.

Android_boot

Once the Android VM was setup and I powered on the VM, KitKat worked very well as you can see from the screenshot below. You can surf the web and use most of the Android application, mouse curser/clicks mimic the touch screen input, and I also tried to run it on Microsoft Surface tablet, where you can really leverage the touch screen to operate the Android VM. While most of applications I tried worked well, Google Maps App could not be rendered properly at the moment.

Here is a screenshot of the Main Android Home Screen.

Android_homescreen

Below is another screenshot of KitKat browsing VMware website.

Android_web_browser

Another minor issue I discovered is that once the KitKat VM falls into sleep mode, I could not wake it up when there is no physical power button, so I had to reboot it. A simple workaround is going to the KitKat Settings -> Display -> Sleep, and check “Never time out of inactivity”.

Please let us know feedback running Android x86 VM in VMware Workstation since we’d love to make this a great way to experience Android OS.