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Configuring Dual- or Multiple-Boot SCSI Systems to Run with VMware Workstation on a Linux Host

It may be possible to configure VMware Workstation so that you can use an operating system already installed and configured on a SCSI disk as a guest operating system inside a VMware Workstation virtual machine.

Using an existing SCSI disk — or SCSI physical disk — inside a virtual machine is supported only if the host has an LSI Logic or BusLogic SCSI adapter. LSI Logic is the preferred choice because it is easier to find drivers for LSI Logic adapters. It may be possible to configure a host with a different SCSI adapter so the same operating system can be booted both natively and inside a virtual machine, but this approach is not supported by VMware. For details on some of the key issues involved, see Known Issues and Background Information on Using SCSI Physical Disks.

Before You Create the Virtual Machine Configuration

You must create a separate configuration for each guest operating system. Allow read and write access to the partitions used by that operating system only.

1. Before starting, if you are running a Windows guest operating system you should read Setting Up Hardware Profiles in Virtual Machines. You should boot the guest operating system natively on the computer and create a hardware profile for the virtual machine before proceeding.

2. Check to see what SCSI ID is set for the drive you plan to use in the virtual machine.

3. Make certain that in addition to any SCSI drivers you have configured for the host, you have also installed the driver for the LSI Logic or BusLogic virtual adapter you plan to use in the virtual machine.

Drivers for LSI Logic controllers are available from the LSI Logic Web site — www.lsilogic.com. In the download area of the site, find a driver for any of the adapters in the LSI53C10xx Ultra320 SCSI I/O controller series — for example, the LSI53C1000.

Note: Drivers for a Mylex (BusLogic) compatible host bus adapter are not obvious on the LSI Logic Web site. Search the support area for the numeric string in the model number. For example, search for "958" for BT/KT-958 drivers.

The LSI Logic or BusLogic driver needs to be installed in the profile for the guest operating system.

Note: To use the virtual BusLogic SCSI adapter in a Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 virtual machine, you need a special SCSI driver available from the download section of the VMware Web site www.vmware.com/download.

4. Check operating system partition mounts. Be sure the existing physical disk partitions that you plan to configure the virtual machine to use are not mounted by the Linux host.

Caution: A physical disk partition should not be used (mounted) simultaneously by the host and the guest operating system. Because each operating system is unaware of the other, data corruption may occur if both operating systems read or write to the same partition. It is critical that the virtual machine not be allowed to modify any partition mounted under the Linux host or in use by another virtual machine. To safeguard against this problem, be sure the partition you use for the virtual machine is not mounted under the Linux host.

5. Set the device group membership or device ownership. The master physical disk devices must be readable and writable by the user who runs VMware Workstation. On most distributions, the physical devices (such as /dev/hda and/dev/hdb) belong to group-id disk. If this is the case, you can add VMware Workstation users to the disk group. Another option is to change the owner of the device. Please think carefully about security issues when you explore different options here.

It is typically a good idea to grant VMware Workstation users access to all /dev/hd[abcd] physical devices that contain operating systems or boot managers and then rely on VMware Workstation's physical disk configuration files to guard access. This provides boot managers access to configuration and other files they may need to boot the operating systems. For example, LILO needs to read /boot on a Linux partition to boot a non-Linux operating system that may be on another drive.

6. If you plan to run a second Linux installation from an existing partition as a guest operating system, and your physical machine's /etc/lilo.conf has a memory register statement such as Append= "mem...", you may want to adjust the append memory parameter or create a new entry in LILO for running Linux in a virtual machine.

Many newer Linux distributions recognize all physical memory in the physical machine, whereas many older Linux distributions see only the first 64MB of memory by default. Machines with more than 64MB of memory that run the older distributions may have the Append= "mem=..." parameter added under the Image=... section of lilo.conf to tell Linux to look for more memory than seen by default.

If the amount of memory configured in lilo.conf exceeds the amount of memory assigned to the virtual machine, the guest operating system is likely to panic when the virtual machine tries to boot the second Linux installation.

You can create another entry in lilo.conf for running Linux in a virtual machine by specifying a different amount of memory than what should normally be recognized when Linux boots directly on the physical machine.

Setting Up the Virtual Machine Configuration

1. Start VMware Workstation.

2. Start the New Virtual Machine Wizard (File > New > Virtual Machine) and select Custom.

3. When you reach the Select I/O Adapter Types step, select the SCSI adapter type that matches the driver you installed in the virtual machine profile.

4. When you reach the Select a Disk step, select Use a physical disk.

5. In the Device list, select the physical drive.

Under Usage, select whether to use the entire disk or individual partitions.

If you selected Use entire disk, click Next then go to step 6.

If you selected Use individual partitions, the Select Physical Disk Partitions panel appears.

Select the partitions you want the virtual machine to use, then click Next.

6. In the entry field, enter a name of your choice for the physical disk.

Caution: If you browse to place the disk file in another directory, do not select an existing virtual disk file.

To specify a device ID for the physical disk, click Advanced. In the Virtual device node list, select the SCSI ID that corresponds to the one used by your SCSI drive. For example, if your SCSI drive has SCSI ID 2, select SCSI 0:2. If you do not know the SCSI ID set on your physical SCSI drive, try using SCSI 0:0.

On the advanced settings screen, you can also specify a disk mode. This is useful in certain special-purpose configurations in which you want to exclude disks from snapshots. For more information on the snapshot feature, see Using Snapshots.

Normal disks are included in snapshots. In most cases, this is the setting you want.

Independent disks are not included in snapshots. You have the following options for an independent disk:

  • Persistent — changes are immediately and permanently written to the disk.
  • Nonpersistent — changes to the disk are discarded when you power off or revert to a snapshot.
  • When you have set the filename and location you want to use and have made any selections you want to make on the advanced settings screen, click Finish.

    7. Begin using your virtual machine.

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