Eric Bergman-Terrell's Blog

Getting VMware Server 2.0 to Install and Run
October 11, 2008

VMware Server 2.0

The moment I saw VMware Server 2.0 I had to start using it immediately! I was especially interested the USB2 support, and I was hoping for improved performance. I did not expect a truly dismal installation experience. But this story has a happy ending - I was eventually able to install and run VMware Server 2.0 on my Windows XP x64 Edition machine, and it does seem to be a good product, once I got it installed and running.

Microsoft licensed the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" as the Windows 95 theme song. If VMware Server 2.0 had a theme song from the Stones' catalog, it would have to be "19th Nervous Breakdown". Translation: I experienced more than my fair share of frustration trying to get Server 2.0 up and running. But read on, dear reader. The following notes should simplify your installation experience.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step...

I downloaded the enormous install from VMware and ran it. The installation program stopped running and vanished without even displaying an error message. I found this in the System Event log:

Event Type:Error
Event Source:MsiInstaller
Event Category:None
Event ID:1008
Date:10/11/2008
Time:8:14:39 AM
User:E520-XP-64\Eric Bergman-Terrell
Computer:E520-XP-64
Description:
The installation of c:\temp\{AF08C71F-F822-4416-87A9-2BBF5A8A5F12}~setup\VMware Server.msi is not permitted due to an error in software restriction policy processing. 
The object cannot be trusted.

If You Can't Trust the Object, Who Can You Trust?

Fortunately TR's blog page had a work-around:

  1. Go to Control Panel / Administrative Tools.
  2. Double-click Local Security Policy.
  3. Right-click Software Restriction Policies and create a new restriction policy.
  4. Double-click Enforcement and select "all users except local administrators".
  5. Save your changes and run gpupdate /force from a command shell to apply your changes.

Do It To Me One More Time

I re-ran the installation and it completed. When I ran VMWare Server 2.0 I was greeted with the following error message from Firefox 3, my default web browser. VMware Server 2.0 has a web-based interface that's run from your default browser. Ironically, it was the web-based interface of Microsoft's virtualization product, with the concomitant security hassles, that attracted me to VMware Server 1.x in the first place. Not only does VMware Server 2.0 sport a web-based interface, it installs a web server to run it, which must make the user's machine more vulnerable to attack.

e520-xp-64:8333 uses an invalid security certificate.

The certificate is not trusted because it is self signed.

(Error code: sec_error_ca_cert_invalid)

I Take Exception to That!

I had to add a security exception to Firefox 3 to get past this error. Here's how:

I went to Tools / Options / Advanced in Firefox and selected the Encryption tab:

Tools / Options / Advanced / Encryption

I then clicked the View Certificates button. In the Certificate Manager dialog:

Firefox 3 Certificate Manager

I clicked Add Exception. In the Add Exception dialog:

Firefox 3 Add Security Exception Dialog

I entered the https URL corresponding to the initial Firefox error message (https://e520-xp-64:8333). I clicked Get Certificate and Confirm Security Exception.

Firefox 3 Certificate Manager

Logging On (or Not)

Finally I was able to try to log in to VMware. After numerous log in attempts, each of which was answered with an error message of "Login failed due to a bad username or password.", I learned that this password prompt expected Windows credentials, not the credentials that I specified before downloading VMware Server 2.0. VMware should update this login prompt to specify that it requires Windows credentials, not the credentials that the user just created!

I Hear You Knockin', But You Can't Come In

I entered my Windows username and password in the login form, and was astonished and annoyed to see that they were not accepted:

Another failed login attempt

VMware gave no further explanation on why my credentials were not good enough. After all, this could have been a bad guy trying to log in. And the bad guys don't know how to display the System Event Log, right? Here's what I found there:

Event Type:Error
Event Source:vmauthd
Event Category:None
Event ID:100
Date:10/11/2008
Time:8:42:42 AM
User:N/A
Computer:E520-XP-64
Description:
Cannot connect to VMX: C:\Virtual Machines\Windows XP Professional (Compatibility)\Windows XP Professional.vmx

Unfortunately, this detailed and pithy error message didn't pinpoint the problem.

vmauthd Just Can't Make No Connection

I went to Control Panel / Administrative Tools / Services and looked at the VMware Authorization Service. I couldn't see anything wrong with it.

On a lark, I speculated that the problem might have something to do with the fact that my Windows account didn't have a password. I created a new Windows user account with a password, made that user an administrator, and attempted to log in as that user.

Success at last! In retrospect it makes sense that VMware Server refuses to log in accounts that lack passwords. After all, Server is now a web application, running on a web server on your machine, and it's practically begging all the bad guys on the Internet to try to hack in to your local machine or VMs. It's a good thing it requires a password! Perhaps this fact could be added to the release notes?

I was even able to see the virtual machine's screen after installing a Firefox plug-in:

Firefox 3 Plug-In

Out of Time

I noticed that there were exceptions for VMware Authd and VMware Hostd in Windows Firewall. I removed these exceptions to make my machine more secure.

If you've encountered difficulties trying to install VMware Server 2.0 on your machine, I hope the above information will help you get it up an running more quickly.

PS: I have one remaining issue: clipboard operations (cut, copy, paste) between VM and host tends to work only intermittently.

Postscript: Since this post was written, I no longer use VMWare Server 2.0. On Windows I use VirtualBox exclusively now.

Keywords: VMware Server 2.0, virtualization, 64-bit Windows, login, Firefox 3, System Event Log

Reader Comments

NameCommentURLDate/Time
Fred KaiserGreat info mate! It helped me heaps... Keep up with the good work! Cheers, Fred Kaiser
 August 16, 2010
Dave VreeEver figure out that intermittent cut/past problem?
 June 11, 2009
YannickThanks ! It was quite helpful. I admit I didn't thought at looking at event viewer... :-( And would have probably been stuck with this policy thing.
 May 5, 2009
simon stevensThanks for your tip. It worked first time. How annoying I was about to go back to VMware server 1. Very appreciated!!!!!!!
 April 7, 2009
StevoThank you very much, had all the catch falls that you had.
 December 4, 2008
WarrenVery Very helpful. I am venturing into VMs for the first time in order to get XP running on Vista with USB support. Thanks to your blog post I am part of the way there. Cheers, Warren
 November 8, 2008

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