Author Archives: Jason Joel

Crisis virus attempts to infect VMware Workstation or Player virtual machines on Windows

A new virus has been discovered that infects virtual machines that reside on Windows PCs.   We wanted our customers to be aware of this issue and to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

On August 20, 2012, Symantec published a blog post on the Crisis virus: http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/crisis-windows-sneaks-virtual-machines.  This virus spreads to systems running Windows through social engineering. Users must install a masqueraded JAR file. Symantec discovered that once the virus is present on a Windows system,  the malware tries to infect virtual machines that reside on the PC.

This has the potential to impact customers running VMware Workstation or VMware Player on Windows. The virus uses legitimate functionality to mount virtual disks and then copies itself onto the disks. It does not use any vulnerabilities in VMware Workstation or Player to infect the virtual machines.    

Windows users that run VMware Workstation or VMware Player are advised to follow standard security practices on their host systems to minimize the risk of introducing the Crisis virus to Windows systems.:

  • Practice safe browsing. Do not visit untrusted Web sites.
  • Do not open untrusted files downloaded from the Web.
  • Run anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date.
  • Keep current with Windows updates.

You can use additional measures to protect VMware virtual machines against the Crisis virus:

  • The Crisis virus cannot infect encrypted virtual machines. VMware Workstation has a feature that allows encryption of virtual machines.
  • Consider using third-party whole-disk encryption tools in the virtual machine
  • If VMware Workstation or Player is used to create virtual machines that are later used on ESX/ESXi hosts, take care that the systems on which virtual machines are created are secure and regularly audited.

The VMware security team is following this closely and we will post any updates to this blog.

Workstation 7 Support Extended!

VMware Workstation 7 users will be pleased to know that VMware has extended the end-of-support (EOS) date for Workstation 7 by an entire year to October 31, 2012. 

Between now and the end of October, VMware plans to ship one or more maintenance releases for Workstation 7 to address uncovered security vulnerabilties.   We do not plan to add any new features or add support for new operating systems.

We have chosen to do this because the previous EOS date of October 31, 2011 only provided our customers with a month and a half of support before they were required to upgrade to Workstation 8 to remain on a supported version of our product.  We feel that this was an unreasonably short period of time and therefore have decided to take care of our loyal users and extend the support window.

We highly recommend that everyone upgrades to Workstation 8 to take advantage of all the new features including the most advanced virtualization platform with incredible graphics performance, the ablity to connect to vSphere, sharing virtual machines, a whole new UI and lots more!

Upgrade Now!

If you still plan to continue using Workstation 7, you will be missing out on many very cool features in Workstation 8, but you will be able to run Workstation 7 confidently knowing that VMware takes the security of our customers very seriously.

The official EOS dates can be found here on VMware's website.

Workstation 8.0.1 and IE 9 Graphics Acceleration

VMware Workstation 8.0.1 released with little fanfare and included an innocuous bullet in the list of highlights "Graphics performance and compatibility enhancements".  We purposely did not provide much more detail until now when our users could begin to take advantage of some of the performance enhancements!

For the past several months we have been working with Microsoft to enable Internet Explorer 9 to use VMware's virtual GPU to accelerate the rendering of graphics displayed in the browser.  VMware included several changes to our graphics driver in Workstation 8.0.1 and Microsoft has just released an update to Internet Explorer 9 that completed the project.

Not surprisingly, the results are astouding!!!!!  Using a graphics processor dedicated to rendering images is radically faster than rendering them on your CPU.

We tested the results using Microsoft's IE Test Drive site and by running speed demos such as the FishBowl Benchmark, FishIE Tank, Galactic, Paintball, Particle Acceleration, Psychedelic Browsing etc.

We achieved improvements from 6-10 frames per second to maxing out at 60 frames per second on many of the tests.  In an unscientific test that I ran on my machine the Psychedelic Browsing benchmark jumped from 12 rotations per minute to 7043…. yes that is an incredible increase in speed!!!  (individual results may vary…) 

The point is that these improvements are not incremental they are exceptional and our users who run Internet Explorer in a virtual machine should be ecstatic about the results!

We encourage you to upgrade to VMware Workstation 8.0.1, install the latest version of VMware Tools ensure that you have run Windows Update to get the latest IE patches and try running these tests yourself.  You can see the difference simply by toggling on and off the IE 9 setting that lets you "Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering".  Please remember to restart Internet Explorer after checking or unchecking this setting.

The setting can be found on the Internet Explorer -> Internet Options menu under the Advanced tab.

Use software rendering

Please respond to this post with your own results!

VMware Workstation 8 running Ubuntu 11.10

Ubuntu 11.10 launched yesterday and we have been testing the GA version as both a host and guest OS for VMware Workstation 8.0. So far, most of the core features are working, but we are aware of a few issues that we will fix in an upcoming maintenance release. Please report any issues you find via a service request or the community forums.

Even the Unity desktop appears to be working! Please don't be fooled by this, 3D support for Linux guests is not enabled… yet…. Ubuntu has updated their standard desktop UI with the new graphical interface which is what is being displayed.

VMware Workstation 8 running Windows 8!

We couldn’t be more excited about the VMware Workstation 8 release and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect if we had planned it!

Yesterday, VMware released Workstation 8 within hours of Microsoft releasing a developer preview of Windows 8.

I am currently at the Microsoft Build conference along with a team of VMware engineers and we were delighted to get our hands on a copy of Windows 8 yesterday afternoon. We immediately tried running Windows 8 in a VM on VMware Workstation 8 and VMware Fusion 4 and were ecstatic that it worked great!

Windows 8 Start 
 

We had plans to go out for a team dinner but instead ended up sitting on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center for 6-7 hours – fueled by caffeinated beverages and really bad pizza!

I was up until 4am playing with Windows 8 and trying all of the new features – I suspect that the rest of the development team was doing the same. We plan to spend the rest of the week learning everything we can about Windows 8 – including developing for the new Metro UI, multi-touch and pen based input devices, graphics driver enhancements, UEFI boot capabilities, power management, the Windows application store etc. all of which will be considred for the next release of VMware
Workstation.

Yes, I will probably spend a little time trying Hyper-V as well…

(Update 9/15/2011) –

We have found that Workstation INSTALLED on Windows 8 requires a slight configuration change in order to run virtual machines.

After installing Workstation 8 on Windows 8 you can do any one of the following:

1. Add your user to the to __vmware__ group

2. Run Workstation 8 in compatibility mode for Windows XP SP3 – (right click on the desktop icon, click on Properties, select the compatibility tab and check the compatibility mode box)

3. Run Workstation 8 as an administrator – (right click on the desktop icon and select Run as Administrator)

Please download and try VMware Workstation 8 today! http://www.vmware.com/workstation

We look forward to your feedback in the Workstation Community Forums!

P2V Windows 7 – Convert a Window 7 PC to a Virtual Machine

One feature that many Workstation 7 customers have asked for is the ability to convert a physical PC running Windows 7 into a virtual machine that can be run inside of Workstation.  Until now, the easiest way to do this, was to purchase a copy of Fusion and convert your Win 7 machine to run on a Mac, copy the VM over to your PC and open it in Workstation.  

Thankfully, VMware has made this significantly easier to do!   Last week, VMware released the 4.3 version of the standalone VMware vCenter Converter.   This application can convert a single machine (or an entire datacenter) into virtual machines and the 4.3 release handles Windows 7!  

The VMware vCenter Converter is free – you can download it from https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/?p=converter after going through a couple of registration steps.

The Workstation engineering team plans to make this even easier for our users but in the meantime we are glad you have a reasonable alternative!

The VMware vCenter Converter release notes (including what else has changed) and documentation can be found here: https://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/converter_pubs.html

Happy converting!

Google Android running on your Workstation

The escalation of the phone OS wars has generated a new breed of operating systems that has crossed over the boundry from smart phones to netbooks and tablets.   Someday these environments are likely to reach the desktop, but you don't have to wait, you can run them virtually on your desktop today!

The response from our ealier post on running Google Chrome OS in VMware Workstation was phenomenal and the  number of downloads of the Chrome OS .vmdk from gdgt.com has encouraged us to look for other new operating systems that VMware Workstation users may want to try.

For the past couple of months, we have been keeping our eye on the Android x86 project http://www.androidx86.org/.  Finally, I got a chance to download and try the new 1.6 r2 build this weekend.  I created a new VM and was up and running within ~20 mins.

Bootscreen 

The tricky part was creating and formatting the disk correctly – the text on the screen of the installer refreshed poorly and ended up with artifacts on the screen which made it a little difficult to understand what needed to be done.   After some trial and error, I eventually realized that I needed to create a disk first and then choose to make it bootable.  After solving this everything else was simple.

Mainscreen

In general, Android worked well.   I was able to navigate thorough the OS, use the onscreen keyboard, run a search, surf the web and play Lunar Lander.  I did manage to install a widget that didn't work on the desktop and that I couldn't remove and I downloaded Solitaire from the App Store which successfully downloaded and indicated that it was "ready to install" but I haven't figured out how to install it.  How can I run a true test of computing power without being able to run the most over played computer card game ever???

Main menu

Please let us know if there are other projects we should take a look at or other operating systems (other than Mac OSX) that you would like to see running in Workstation.

Running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Beta (RHEL 6) in Workstation

The RHEL 6 Beta is now available from RedHat ( ftp://ftp.redhat.com/redhat/rhel/beta/6.0/ ) of course we immediately downloaded it to give it a try!   It works reasonably well in the Workstation 7.1 beta but we would appreciate your help in thoroughly testing this.  (See the previous post below if you aren't running the beta already!)

Here a few tips to help you get up and running quickly:

1.  Create a new Virtual Machine using Easy Install.  Point to the .iso file that you have downloaded – you will  see a warning that this operating system could not be detected (we will fix this shortly).  Press next and select Guest Operating System: Linux - Version: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 64-bit (assuming that you are installing the x86_64 version of RHEL).

2.  You can press next repeatedly in the new VM wizard and take the rest of the defaults, although you may want to increase the size of the Virtual Disk you are using, depending on your application plans.

3.  When the VM boots it display the following Welcome Screen.   Choose to Install or Upgrade an existing system.

Startup

The next set of screens prompt you to choose your language, keyboard type and installation method (Choose "Local CD/DVD").  

4.  The fourth installation screen offers to test the media.   YOU MUST SKIP THIS STEP! After testing the media, I was unable to continue, so I recommend that you skip this and if it fails to install, download another copy and manually compare the MD5.

 

Disc Found 
5.  The next set of screens help you configure your preferences and include a warning about running pre-released software that is not intended for production use!  No problemo…. What better environment to test a new OS than in a virtual machine?  Go ahead and "Install Anyway".

Warning! 
6. Choose Basic Storage Devices, and press Next and you will see another warning.   Go ahead and select "Re-initialize all".   Once again, you're glad to be running this OS in a VM aren't you!

Warning2
7. Pick your locale, set your root password, when prompted to choose the kind of installation you would like, select "Use All Space" and press "Write changes to disk".

 

8.  IMPORTANT!!!  The default installation of RHEL does not include GCC, Make or the header files necessary to compile and  install VMware Tools.  Therefore you must choose to install the Software Development Workstation software set.    You could choose the desktop and manually install the neccessary components or attempt to install via the Add/Remove Software UI in the OS, but the Red Hat servers have been very busy and sometimes overloaded.  Therefore, I strongly recommend using the Software Development Workstation option.

 

RHEL6Installations 
9.  Press next, watch the progress bar zip by………………… and you are almost done!!!

InstallComplete

10.  Install VMware Tools.    After the installation is complete and you have logged into the guest, I had difficulty mounting the VMware Tools .iso and using "Install VMware Tools" from the Workstation menu didn't quite work.   I had to first unmount the existing disk (containing the RHEL installation .iso).   Manually change VM settings to map the CD/DVD to the Linux.iso (provided with Workstation) and remount the disk.   After this step, I was able to untar the VMware Tools file and run the vmware-install.pl script and finish with a reboot.

 

We have found a couple of issues including resizing the screen resulted in the background image being tiled (instead of scaled)  – which was easy to fix by changing the background image.   I also dragged a file from the guest to the host and then back to the guest and ultimately needed to reboot the guest…..

 

We will work on fixing these issues and others that we uncover.  If you find other issues please post your feedback in the Beta forums   http://communities.vmware.com/community/beta/ws?view=discussions.

Thank you!

VMware Workstation 7.1 Beta Available

The VMware Workstation 7.1 Beta is available now at http://communities.vmware.com/community/beta/ws. This beta release includes several new features and hundreds of minor improvements. Some release highlights include:

  • OpenGL 2.1 support for Windows 7 and Vista guests: The addition of hardware accelerated OpenGL 2.1 support to the WDDM driver enables many more graphics applications to run inside of your virtual machines.
  • Improved graphics performance: Significant enhancements have been made to the VMware WDDM driver that have produced benchmark results that are up to 80% faster. The updated driver also produces smoother video playback and addresses many reported rendering issues. Of course games run better as well!
  • 8-way SMP support plus virtual disks up to 2TB in size: The virtual hardware continues to become more powerful to meet the needs of Workstation customers who are running server class applications.
  • OVF 1.0 support: Including the OVF Tool with this release enables users to easily import or export virtual machines and vApps and move them to vSphere or up into the cloud.
  • Direct Launch: Blur the distinction between running native and virtual applications by launching an application installed in a virtual machine directly from the start menu or taskbar of the host system.
  • Automatic software updates: These VMware applications can now detect when a new version is released and are able to update at the click of a button.
  • Fedora 12 virtual machines: We are excited about finally offering support for running one of the most popular Linux distributions on the planet!

We look forward to hearing your feedback.  Please post all of your comments or questions in the Beta forums!

Google Chrome OS running on VMware Workstation!!!

About

The Google Chrome OS source was released by Google yesterday and the rockstars at gdgt.com have compiled it and released a VMware virtual machine to make it easy for VMware Workstation and VMware Player users to give it a try.  You can get a copy of the VM by registering on their site:

http://discuss.gdgt.com/google/chrome-os/general/Download-Chrome-OS-VMWare-image/

After downloading the virtual machin and have uncompressed:

Create a new "custom" virtual machine and use the defaults with the following exceptions

  •     Choose "I will install the OS later." 

  •     Select "Other" and "Other Linux Kernal 2.6" for the guest operating system (you can bet that we will be adding Google Chrome OS to the list soon)… 

  •     Add memory – I set my VM to use 1 GB (randomly chosen).

  •     Use Bridged Networking.

  •     On the Select a Disk screen, select "use an existing virtual disk and browse for the .vmdk that you  downloaded and decompressed.

  •     I chose NOT to convert the disk format to the newest format.

After completing the New Virtual Machine Wizard and starting the VM, you should see the following screen.

Login

The username and password needed to login to Chrome OS / Chromium OS is your Google account!

Have fun!

Note:  We have had reports of failures to login from behind a proxy server.   The error that is displayed is "Network not connected and offline login fail"

Obviously, VMware Tools are not yet available, so you can expect the mouse to be a little jumpy, but it is useable!