VmWare status and setup on CERN RedHat Linux

VMware is a commercial product and there is no site licence at CERN. One needs an individual licence for each workstation on which it runs.


Following a pilot project and user feedback, IT support for VmWare is limited to handling the purchases of licenses.

Please contact the CERN Software Licence Office which you can ask for the latest price and through which (with your budget code) purchase licenses and media kits. Otherwise users can do an individual purchase themselves.

All support questions should be directed to VmWare.com, from where you can also download RPMs. Current IT policy recommends to use NICE2k on the desktops, and to connect to central LINUX servers using Exceed.


This page and all the software available are provided "AS IS". IT does not provide any support for the VmWare application on Linux, and neither does IT support the NICE2000/XP installation inside a VmWare virtual machine. A widespread deployment at CERN would also cause problem with the IP address allocation, which is based on the number of physical ports per building.

VmWare support three kinds of networking for the virtual machine:

  • Host-only: the virtual machine can only connect to its host. This is secure, but severly limits functionality (e.g. no DFS)
  • NAT: the virtual machine is hidden behind a NATted firewall, and can access other machines on the network. This breaks Win2k SMS, wherefore these machines can not be upgraded automatically in case of security problems. This option is not acceptable on the CERN network.
  • full IP connectivity: this enables SMS to work, but requires a separate IP address for the virtual machine. Due to the way IP addresses are distributed over the CERN site, this means that most IP addresses taken up by a virtual machine will leave a physical network outlet unusable, therefore this prevents widespread usage at CERN.

If you have purchased a license, here are some tips to get you started:

  • the VmWare kernel modules need recompiling against the CERN kernel: install the kernel-headers package and run
    # /usr/bin/vmware-config.pl
  • a dual-boot configuration (Win2k installed in a separate partition) has the advantage that in case of problems you can reboot into a native Win2k environment
  • The Win2k OpenAFS client provides a convenient way to share files. In this case, you do not have to set up a Samba server on your host. This can easily be installed from the NICE2k software installation dialogue.
  • The newsgroups
    • news.vmware.com:vmware.for-Linux.configuration
    • news.vmware.com:vmware.for-Linux.experimental
    • news.vmware.com:vmware.for-Linux.general
    have been reported to be fairly useful when solving problems.
  • Thanks to J.Lewis, we have a mail from VMware support for dealing with crashing "natd"s -- but please remember that NAT is not recommended for use at CERN.


In Summer 2001, IT-PDP ran a pilot project for VmWare at CERN, including ready-to-install RPMs with a NICE2000 environment. Despite announcement through official channels (CLUG,DTF,FOCUS), user participation was disappointingly low (rounded avg. = 0, see ASIS usage monitoring).

This pilot project has since been stopped (the documentation is still available). Both project members have since left CERN.

A status summary as presented to the DTF on March 27th 2002 can be found at http//home.cern.ch/iven/presentations/dtf-27.03.02/.

An update for the DTF on June 26th is at http//home.cern.ch/iven/presentations/dtf-26.06.02/.