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VMware Workstation 6.5 Release Notes

Workstation Version 6.5 | 23 SEPT 2008 | Build 118166

Last Document Update: 15 OCT 2008

Check frequently for additions and updates to these release notes.

These release notes cover the following topics:

What's New

With this release of VMware Workstation, the following new features and support have been added:

New Support for 32-Bit and 64-Bit Operating Systems  


This release provides experimental support for the following operating systems:

  • 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows Preinstallation environment (all versions) as a guest operating system
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows Recovery environment as a guest operating system
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Ubuntu LTS 8.04.1 as a guest operating system

This release provides full support for the following operating systems in addition to those operating systems supported in previous releases:

  • 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Standard, Datacenter, and Enterprise (without Hyper-V) as guest operating systems
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Asianux 3 as a guest operating system
  • 32-bit and 64-bit CentOS 5.0-5.2 as host and guest operating systems
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.0-5.2 as host and guest operating systems
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, Update 7 (Workstation, Enterprise Server, and Advanced Server) as host and guest operating systems
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.1 and 5.2 (Advanced Platform, Desktop, and Server) as host and guest operating systems
  • 32-bit and 64-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and 10 SP1 and SP2 as host and guest operating systems
  • 32-bit SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 as a guest operating system
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Mandriva Linux 2008 as a guest operating system
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Ubuntu LTS 8.04 as host and guest operating systems
  • 32-bit and 64-bit Solaris 10 Operating System for x86 Platforms, 10 5/08 (Update 5), as a guest operating system

Major New Features  

  • Enhanced VMware ACE authoring — Use ACE (Assured Computing Environment) features to package and deploy Pocket ACE and desktop virtual machines with encryption, restricted network access, and device control. VMware ACE authoring features are now fully integrated with Workstation, and no special ACE Edition is required. In addition to the new features listed here, be sure to read about new ACE-specific features in the VMware ACE 2.5 release notes.
  • Unity mode — Integrate your favorite guest applications with your host. Open the application window, enter Unity mode, and the Workstation window is automatically minimized. The guest application windows look just like host application windows, but with color-coded borders. You can access the virtual machine's Start menu (for Windows virtual machines) or Applications menu (for Linux virtual machines) by placing the mouse pointer over the host's Start or Applications menu, or by using a key combination.
    Note: Unity mode is supported only experimentally for Linux guests.
  • Accelerated 3-D graphics on Windows XP guests — Workstation 6.5 virtual machines now work with applications that use DirectX 9 accelerated graphics with shaders up through Shader Model 2.0 on Windows XP guests. Hosts can be running Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Linux.
  • More powerful record/replay of VM execution activity — Easily enable this powerful debugging tool, which records full system behavior, including all CPU and device activity. You can now insert markers while creating or playing back a recording and quickly navigate to these markers during replay. You can also browse a recording to replay from any spot.
  • Virtual machine streaming — You can now download a virtual machine from a Web server and power it on without waiting for the download to complete. Use the command-line startup command (vmware for Workstation or vmplayer for VMware Player) with the URL of the virtual machine. The download can also be paused and restarted.
    Note: This feature is not available for ACE instances. Also this feature does not yet work with HTTP redirects.
  • Better internationalization support and mobility with Unicode — Workstation 6.5 now stores and processes your virtual machine data with a Unicode (UTF-8) encoding. This means you can now create a virtual machine with international text in its metadata and that same virtual machine can be used by other users of Workstation 6.5 (Windows and Linux) or Fusion 2.0 (Mac), even if they are using a system with a completely different host language encoding. For instance, you could create a virtual machine on a German Windows XP host with an umlaut character in the virtual machine's name, and then give it to a user of Workstation 6.5 on a Linux host using a simplified Chinese encoding. The virtual machine still functions properly and the umlaut character is properly displayed in the virtual machine's name.

Usability Enhancements  

  • Easy Install option for Windows and Linux guest operating systems — When you create a virtual machine, you now have the option of entering a few pieces of information so that installation of the guest operating system and VMware Tools is performed in an unattended fashion. Easy install is supported on newer Windows operating systems and some versions of the following Linux operating systems: Red Hat, Mandriva, and Ubuntu.
  • Installer bundle for Linux hosts — Installing Workstation on Linux hosts just got a lot easier. The new bundle format provides a graphical UI wizard for most Linux operating systems. With a few mouse clicks, Workstation is installed. For users who want a custom installation, a command-line interface provides complete control.
  • Virtual Network Editor for Linux hosts — On Linux hosts, the new Virtual Network Editor now provides a graphical user interface for creating and configuring virtual networks.
  • Expanded in-product help system — When you choose Help > Help Topics, or click a Help button in a dialog box, you have access to four times as much content as was provided in Workstation 6.0.
  • Integration with VMware Converter 3.0.3 — This release includes the Conversion wizard component from VMware Converter 3.0.3. You can now use File > Import to create virtual machines from Acronis True Image files in addition to the Microsoft Virtual PC, Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery, and StorageCraft ShadowProtect file types previously supported. You can also convert Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) appliances. For Microsoft Virtual PC and Microsoft Virtual Server virtual machines, you now have the option of sharing the source virtual hard disk (.vhd) files.
  • New features for VMware Player — VMware Player now includes the following features, which were previously available only in Workstation:
    • While in full screen mode, you can now switch from one powered-on virtual machine to another.
    • Unity mode is available, so that you can open your favorite guest applications in windows on your host desktop.
    • Both Windows and Linux hosts now support suspending the virtual machine when exiting.

Performance Improvements  

  • Networking performance using NAT — You will see significant improvements in networking performance if a virtual machine is configured to use NAT. Performance is ten times better than in the previous release in some cases.
  • Folder sharing and dragging, dropping, copying, and pasting text and files — Transferring files between virtual machines or between host and guests using these features is up to 25 percent faster.
  • USB devices — Several optimizations have reduced latency of I/O to USB devices by as much as 50 percent.
  • I/O performance — A new asynchronous I/O manager boosts performance on Windows hosts under heavy I/O loads.
  • VMCI performance — Applications that use the Virtual Machine Communication Interface will see a significant increase in throughput. Several optimizations have been added.

For more information about performance tuning, see the new Performance Best Practices and Benchmarking Guidelines.

New Platform Capabilities  

  • New virtual hardware version — This new hardware version lets you use the following new features if the guest operating system supports them: Add or remove some virtual devices while the virtual machine is powered on ("hot-plug"). Use LSI Logic SAS (serial attached SCSI) adapters in the virtual machine. Hot-add virtual CPUs and memory to guests that support this functionality. For virtual machines with this hardware version, 3-D graphics capabilities are enabled by default for Windows 2000 and later guest operating systems and most Linux guests.
  • (Experimental) Support for smart cards in virtual machines — You can plug a smart card reader into a host and insert your smart card to authenticate yourself on your host or on a guest. Smart cards can be shared between the host and guests or between guests.
  • Replicate the physical network connection state for mobile users — If you use virtual machines on a laptop or other mobile device, enable this new link state propagation feature if you use bridged network connections (not NAT). As you move from one wired or wireless network to another, the IP address is automatically renewed.
  • Text copy and paste enhancements — On Windows guests, you can copy and paste text in rich text format, and copy up to 4MB of text. (On Linux guests, the old limitations still apply. You can copy and paste up to 64K of plain text.)

Developer Tools  

  • (Experimental) Replay debugging — Record the execution of an application you want to debug and then use the Integrated Virtual Debugger for Visual Studio to examine the recording repeatedly. No debugging is performed during the recording process, so debugging activities do not affect the normal execution of an application. This powerful tool enables you to fix bugs that cannot be reliably reproduced.

    You can also use reverse-execution debugging, which is analogous to forward execution, except the application runs until it reaches the previous breakpoint, data breakpoint, or exception. For the most up-to-date documentation on this feature, see Appendix C of the Workstation User's Manual.
  • VMCI Sockets interface — Developers who want to write client-server applications for virtual machines can now use this sockets interface for the Virtual Machine Communication Interface. VMCI provides a faster means of communication among applications running on the host and in virtual machines. See the VMCI Sockets Programming Guide.
  • Updated VIX 1.6 API — The VIX API allows you to write scripts and programs to automate virtual machine operations. The API is available in the C language. There are additional language bindings for Perl and COM. See the VIX API 1.6 release notes and the VIX API Reference Guide.
  • (Experimental) VAssert API for inserting replay-only code to debug applications — Use virtual assertions as you would regular assertions in the applications you develop. The benefit of VAsserts is that they appear only when you replay a recording using the application and so are overhead-free. This API is currently available for Windows guests. See the VAssert Programming Guide.
  • VProbes tool for investigating guest behavior — You can write VProbes scripts that inspect and record activities in the guest, VMM, VMX, and virtual device state, without modifying that state. For example, VProbes can track which applications are running or indicate which processes are causing page faults. See the VProbes Programming Reference.
  • vmrun enhancements — Many command-line options have been added to this command-line interface for operating virtual machines. See Using vmrun to Control Virtual Machines.

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Known Issues

The known issues are grouped as follows:

Localization and Internationalization

  • On Linux hosts, if you open a Workstation 5.x or 6.0.x virtual machine that has Japanese characters in the .vmx file name, Workstation 6.5 might exit unexpectedly. Note that newly created virtual machines in Workstation 6.5 usually transfer correctly between Workstation 6.5 Windows and Linux and Mac-Fusion 2.0 hosts when international characters are present. The issue is only with older virtual machines, created with previous versions of Workstation that do not transfer correctly.
  • If you create a virtual machine on a host with an English locale and then try to open that virtual machine on a Japanese host where the path to the Workstation installation directory contains certain Japanese hanzi characters or other characters that are not in the local encoding (that is, not Japanese), you might not be able to open the virtual machine.
  • If a virtual machine's configuration file (.vmx file) contains characters outside of the ASCII character set and you want to use Workstation 6.5 to open a virtual machine that was created with an older version of another VMware product, such as VMware Fusion 1.1, you must first open the virtual machine with a new version of that other VMware product. For example, open a Fusion 1.1 virtual machine with Fusion 2.0 and then you will be able to open it with Workstation 6.5.

Workstation and Virtual Machine Installation, Upgrade, and Compatibility

  • On Linux hosts that are running a GL-based X server (Xgl), after you install Workstation, you might not be able to power on a virtual machine until you reboot the host.
  • If you configure a Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 virtual machine to automatically update VMware Tools, the guest might freeze during the automatic update process.
    Workaround: Power the virtual machine off, power it on again, and then manually uninstall and then reinstall VMware Tools.
  • On virtual machines with a Windows 2000 operating system, if the virtual machine is set to automatically update VMware Tools, the virtual machine is not restarted after the update. You must manually restart the virtual machine to complete the update and start VMware Tools.
  • If you use Avira AntiVir antivirus software on a Windows Vista host, you might have problems running virtual machines.

Smart Cards and Smart Card Readers (Experimental Support)

  • On Windows XP hosts and perhaps other hosts, you might be locked out of the host if you remove a smart card from its reader in order to insert it for logging in to a virtual machine. To avoid this problem, configure the host's smart card removal behavior so that no action is taken when the smart card is removed.
  • If you upgrade from Workstation 6.0.x, or an earlier 6.5 beta release, you might have difficulties logging in to a domain using a smart card. For example, you might see an error such as, "The system could not log you on. Your credentials could not be verified."
  • Smart cards are not supported with Linux guests.
  • Smart cards that have been tested include ActivIdentity, Gemalto, and Oberthur, including DoD CAC type cards. Smart card readers that have been tested include:
    • Readers with USB interfaces: ActivIdentity USB V2 , Gemplus USB-SW, SCM-SCR-331, HP USB Smartcard Keyboard KUS0133, Advance Card System ACR30, Litronic 215
    • Readers with serial interfaces: Gemplus American Express GCR415, SCM-SCR-131
    • Readers with PCMCIA interfaces: Omnikey CardMan 4040, SCM-SCR-243, Gemplus-PCMCIA

Display

  • If you want to use exclusive mode when running a 3-D game, application, or screen saver, you must first go into full screen mode, then start the 3-D application, and then go into exclusive mode. If you start a 3-D application when you are already in exclusive mode, the virtual machine will go into full screen mode.
  • The Ubuntu shut down window does not appear in Unity mode. If you choose System > Quit in a Ubuntu virtual machine while in Unity mode, the shut down window does not appear.
    Workaround: Exit Unity mode, press Tab until the desired button on the shut down window is chosen, and press Enter.
  • On Linux hosts, if you use Unity mode and drag a file from a guest application window to the host, the version of the file on the guest might get moved to the guest's desktop.
  • On Linux hosts with a Linux guest, you might not be able to use Unity mode to place application windows from different virtual desktops into corresponding virtual desktops on the host. Windows from different virtual desktops on the guest might all be placed in one virtual desktop on the host.
  • When you place a virtual machine in Unity mode, Workstation tries to disable the guest screen saver. On some Linux guests, however, the screen saver is not disabled. If a guest's screen saver starts being used when in Unity mode and if you have the guest configured to require authentication to exit the screen saver, you might get locked out of the guest. In such environments, disable the guest screen saver for any Linux virtual machine that will use Unity mode often.
  • On Windows 95 and Windows 98 guests, the Autofit Guest command and the Fit Guest Now command do not work unless you use the guest's Display Properties settings to change the screen resolution to a higher value than 640 X 480.
  • Turbolinux 10 Server has a problem with switching from XGA (Extended Graphics Array) to VGA (Video Graphics Array) such that the screen becomes black. You encounter this problem at the end of the process of installing the Turbolinux 10 Server operating system. After you click Finish in the installation wizard, the screen becomes black and the system does not reboot.
    Workaround: Manually reboot the guest operating system.
  • Occasionally, on Windows guests, when you try to play a QuickTime video while in full screen mode, you see only a black screen.

Integrated Virtual Debuggers

  • If you use the RPM installer rather than the bundle installer for Linux Workstation, the Integrated Virtual Debugger for Eclipse might not be installed. The RPM installer searches for an Eclipse installation and if it does not find Eclipse, it does not install the debugger.
    Workaround: Use the bundle installer. It searches for an Eclipse installation but also gives you the option of specifying the path to Eclipse if the path cannot be found automatically.
  • If a virtual machine is powered off and you use the Integrated Virtual Debugger for Eclipse, you may see the error "Guest has only loopback IP address. Ensure that it has a properly configured TCP/IP connection to the host."
    Workaround: Enabled shared folders manually.
  • If you add additional .jar files to the class path of your Eclipse project and launch it inside a Windows virtual machine from within Eclipse then you may not be able to detach and re-attach the Integrated Virtual Debugger for Eclipse from the application.
  • Visual Studio 2005 allows multiple projects to be debugged simultaneously when Start is chosen. However, the Integrated Virtual Debugger for Visual Studio currently supports only one project and one configuration for debugging at any given time. If you select multiple projects as debugging targets, the Integrated Virtual Debugger for Visual Studio only chooses the first one on the list.

Miscellaneous Issues

  • If you use File > Open or File > Import to convert a virtual machine or system image that contains a Windows NT 3.x, Windows ME, Windows 98, or Windows 95 operating system, you might see the following warning: Cannot configure the source image. You can ignore this message. These operating systems are supported only experimentally. You might need to modify the configuration of the destination virtual machine before using it.
  • Occasionally, when you use File > Import to convert a Symantec backup or Norton Ghost image (.sv2i files) with volume resizing, the operation stops responding.
    Workaround: First, try again. If the issue persists, try again without volume resizing.
  • The File > Open and File > Import commands have several limitations for StorageCraft ShadowStore images (.spf files) and Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery images (.sv2i files). The limitations are:
    1. No support for dynamic disks.
    2. Images relating to the backup of the same machine must be in the same folder, with no other images placed there.
    3. All the volumes in the disk up to the active and system volumes must be backed up. (For example, say there are 4 partitions (1-4) on a disk, and partition 2 is the active volume and partition 3 is the system volume. Volumes 1-3 must be backed up.)
    4. If it is an incremental image, up to 16 incremental backups are supported.
    In addition, for StorageCraft images, there is no support for systems with logical drives if the logical drive is also a system/active volume.

You may also view a list of knowledge base articles related to Workstation 6.5.

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Resolved Issues

The following items were listed as known issues in the Workstation 6.0.x release notes. They were fixed in Workstation 6.5:

  • If you run the Workstation installer on a Windows Vista host in order to use the Change option, you must first turn off UAC (user account control). Otherwise, the wizard immediately displays the Finish dialog box and you receive an error message. (Bug 107929)
  • Sometimes when upgrading VMware Tools in Vista guests, you might see warnings about files being in use. (Bug 138378)
  • Workstation does not run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 if the Xen kernel is installed. (Bug 170692)
  • If you use File > Import to convert a virtual machine, some of the configuration properties from the source might be lost. For example, a generic SCSI device or shared folder might be removed. (Bug 151814)
  • On hosts that use a Windows 2000 Professional SP4 operating system, occasionally, you will not be able to use File > Import to create a virtual machine from a physical machine. The following error message appears: Unable to determine guest operating system. This error occurs when the msdos.sys file is either not present or not accessible. (Bug 145111)
  • On Japanese systems, if Workstation is installed in a directory whose name ends with a Japanese 5c character (the backslash character in ASCII), and then if you run a virtual machine in the background, you might not be able to restore it by right-clicking the system tray. (Bug 260304)
  • If you attempt to use File > Import to convert a remote Japanese Windows 2000 Pro SP4 physical machine to a virtual machine, the import fails. (Bug 174347)
  • You cannot use File > Open to convert a StorageCraft image to a virtual machine if the filename or path contains non-ASCII characters. (Bugs 159853 and 182402)