July 14, 2009

HOWTO: Install VMWare Server 2 on Debian Lenny, AMD64 (64bit)


Everybody knows about VMWare Server, now with stable 2.x version my favorite feature is 64bit host native support.

I don't need to run guest 64bit OSes (yet) but 64bit native support is fine if you've a recent CPU and you'd like to take advantage of new servers outta there, and most important you can use a stable and working real 64bit application on your 64bit Debian system.

I've just installed a Debian Lenny (v5.0) host with AMD64 flavor, so a 64bit compiled OS on a brand new Xeon Quad Core, a bunch of ram (8Gb), hw raid array with hot swap and spare disks as well; in short: HP Proliant DL180G5 machine, hp basic config with no fancy features but stable and fast enough for a Debian host. Lenny with AMD64 flavor is not a surprise, it's a well documented and a stable release, so proceed forward with a common installation, you don't need a lot of software, just proceed with a bare bone install (no X, no additional software), when it just boots you're set.


Let's start with VMWare

VMWare Server is now declared stable, at the date release 2.0.1 is available for 64 bit Operating Systems. No deb packages are available from VMWare Site, only .tar.gz source and RPM packages, just download the common .tar.gz, it's working and it's good for us. Take a look carefully at the download page and grab the 64bit version, 32bit on a 64bit system doesn't work at all (without 32 compat libs but we don't want them).
Login as root and start with the configuration


As a prerequisite you need to have these packages installed:

linux-headers-2.6.26-2-amd64 (or other version according to your installed kernel)

And install dependent packages as well, with them and with a bare bone install you're able to install vmware server v2

Optional: Create a non administrative user, useful and nice if you'd like to run the service without root privileges (user: vmware for my host), assign an home directory, we'll use that for local vmware storage


Download and Install VMWare

At the date this is what I've downloaded: VMware-server-2.0.1-156745.x86_64.tar.gz
AMD64 version, .tar.gz format

decompress it wherever you want:

tar -zxvf VMware-server-2.0.1-156745.x86_64.tar.gz
cd vmware-server-distrib/

And run


Reply to installer questions by choosing the default answer, these are common for a basic installation, you don't need to worry too much unless you know what you're doing. The only thing I've changed is VMWare virtual machine storage directory according to my unprivileged user (user: vmware)

When installation is complete you'll have vmware three more networks up and running: NAT, HostOnly and Bridged; networking autodetection and assignment is working fine and without troubles


Dirty hack on modules compilation (if needed)

If you've just installed GCC and you've a running debian system with a stock image (2.6.26-2 in my case) you'll run into troubles with VMWare modules compilation. VMWare installation script may complain about your running kernel compiled with GCC v4.1 and current GCC version (now 4.3), it refuses to go on until you switch to gcc 4.1.
As a little and dirty hack you only need to switch to gcc 4.1 for a while, compile vmware modules and go back to gcc 4.3 (or whatever version you've)

vmhost:/usr/bin# ls -la gcc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 2009-07-13 09:20 gcc -> gcc-4.3
vmhost:/usr/bin# rm gcc
vmhost:/usr/bin# ln -s gcc-4.1 gcc
vmhost:/usr/bin# ls -la gcc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 2009-07-13 09:20 gcc -> gcc-4.1


Remember to switch gcc back to 4.3 version when finished with VMWare

And that's it

Nothing more, installation is very easy and without troubles if you take a look at the compiler issue, license key version is provided when you download the package from the web site, write it down on a note and enter later in the installation script when asked, nothing more.

Next step is to disable web access console (ugly and slow for me) and leave VIC (VMWare Infrastructure Client) as your only and fast access.

Sadly if you've a Linux workstation like me you don't have a native Infrastructure client for basic configuration, VMWare provides Windows only clients, if you're upset like me please take a look at this thread and email directly VMWare for requests (I think they're flooded from Linux users like me); WINE emulation isn't stable enough to be used in a production environment


I'll come back with web access configuration for the next blog
Stay tuned

New episode: HOWTO: VMWare Server 2, Disable Web Server Interface
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