HOWTO: Ask (and Answer) Questions

HOWTO: Ask (and Answer) Questions


Hi! If someone has directed you at this document, chances are you've  just asked a question, but have not supplied enough information for us  to be able to help you. We'd like

to help, but we can't see your computer so we're relying on you

to provide all the information we need to figure out what the problem  is. This document will give an overview of the sort of information we  typically need. If you're not sure how to get some piece of information,  ask.

Much of these suggestions apply (directly or indirectly) to other areas of life, too

Smiley Happy

Disclaimer: This is a personal document and is not official or endorsed  by VMware. Feedback, suggestions, and edits are welcome. Please use the  comments below only for things specific to this document; general questions are better off in the discussion section.

So You Have a Question...

Do Some Research

Before you report a problem, be sure that you've read the release notes, the FAQ, the unofficial FAQ,  searched the forums, and searched the internet. You might find the  answer is readily available - searching first gets you the answer faster  and keeps the forums less cluttered, making it easier to find things in  the future. If you haven't taken the effort to look for a solution  yourself (however briefly), why should we make the effort to help you?

People may assume you're familiar with A Beginner's Guide to VMware Fusion.  While you're waiting for a reply, consider reading it (if you haven't  done so already) - there's a lot of generally useful information.

Tell Us What's Going On

Once you've done some preliminary searching and determined that it's not  an easily-available solution, it's question time. It's important that  you give as much information as you can so others can diagnose what's  wrong. Remember that what may be obvious to you, sitting in front of  your computer, may not be obvious to someone far across the internet.

As an analogy, if you were to walk up to a stranger and say "I went to  the store and bought a book but the red button doesn't work", they're  probably going to stare at you blankly. Aside from the weirdness of  being accosted by a stranger (okay, the analogy's not great), they're  probably going to need to know which store you went to, what book you got, what the red button is, and why you think it doesn't work. And why a book has a button. If you can't or  won't provide this context, it's doubtful you'll have much success (in  our analogy, remember that the person you're asking can't see the book,  the store, or anything else except what you're +saying+).

Or if you're into webcomics, Wellington Grey puts it this way: The Trouble With Tech Support

Also keep in mind that there are many (I'd estimate around 100-200)  posts per day - it's important to convey your situation clearly and  quickly, since this lessens the work that others have to do. Personally,  if it takes 17 exchanges to extract necessary information, I'm going to  be... less happy.. than if the information had been there upfront. A  few exchanges is OK if you forgot some information or don't know how to  get it, but please try.

It may also help to say what task you're trying to do in general, rather  than what specifically isn't working - someone may be able to point out  that you're overlooking a simple alternative.

Information to Include

This is not an exhaustive list of useful information - if you have more  details that you think are relevant, be sure to include them too. These  lists assume you have a specific question - obviously the ground rules  are different if you have a general question.

Unless you have a good reason to believe something is not relevant, always include all of the following information with an initial request for help:

  • Build number. You can find this information under VMware Fusion > About
  • What sort of Mac you have (e.g. Mac Pro, MacBook, etc.)
  • What the problematic behavior is and what causes it
  • If there are any conditions where it does work
  • How often you see the problem (e.g. all the time, sometimes, rarely, etc.)
  • Has it previously worked in the same setup (e.g. same virtual machine, same computer), and if so, what has changed since then
  • How experienced with OS X you are, and comfortable you are with the  command line (things can go a lot faster if you know what you're doing,  but if you don't say, we have to assume you need lots of hand-holding)

If you're having problems with a guest, include:

  • Guest operating system e.g. "Windows XP Pro (German)" or "Ubuntu  7.04 64-bit". Be sure to include details (e.g.  Home/Pro/Business/Ultimate/etc., 64-bit vs 32-bit, language, etc.) when  applicable.
  • Whether you have installed VMware Tools, and if so, which version
  • Whether this is a Boot Camp virtual machine
  • Where the virtual machine came from (created in Fusion, created in some other VMware product and copied over, imported from some other format, etc.)

If you're having problems with an application in a guest, include:

  • The application name and version
  • If practical (e.g. freeware, shareware, demos), where others can download a copy to reproduce the problem

If you're having display problems (e.g. glitches in 3D), include:

  • What graphics card the Mac has
  • What version of OS X you're running

If you're seeing an error message, include:

  • Where the error message is coming from (e.g. an application in the guest, the guest itself, OS X, etc.)
  • The exact text of the error message. A transcription is  preferred (to save space, and images aren't included in email  notifications), but even a screenshot is better than "it said there was  some problem with some file I don't remember"

If you're having network problems, include:

  • Network type (e.g. NAT, Bridged, or Host-only)
  • Guest network information (Windows: ipconfig /all in a command prompt, Linux/OS X: ifconfig -a in a terminal window)
  • Host network information (run ifconfig -a in a Terminal window)

If you're having trouble printing, include:

  • What printing method you're using (e.g. direct USB connection, network printing, Thinprint a.k.a. driverless passthrough)

If you're having problems with a USB device, after you make sure the device is connected to the virtual machine and the guest OS recognizes it, include:

For a Fusion UI crash (e.g. if you restart Fusion, open your virtual machine and it comes up instantly), include:

  • /Users/${USER}/Library/Logs/VMware Fusion/vmware-vmfusion-0.log (and others, if there are any)

For OS X kernel panics, include:

  • /Library/Logs/panic.log

If you're having Boot Camp preprocessing errors, include:

  • /Users/${USER}/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion/Virtual Machines/Helper/naos-1.0.vmwarevm/vmware.log

If you're having VMware Importer errors, include:

  • /Users/${USER}/Library/Logs/VMware Importer/import.log
  • /Users/${USER}/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion/Virtual Machines/Helper/naos-1.0.vmwarevm/vmware.log

For a guest Blue Screen of Death, include:

Etiquette and General Notes

Do make the subject of a  thread descriptive and concise. A good guideline is: If someone were to  read just the subject, would they know roughly what your question is  about? Also, since most posts are questions, it's redundant to say  "HELP!!!" or similar in the subject (or really, anywhere).

Do be polite. As far as I  know, nobody's being paid to hang out on these forums and answer  questions - it's all fellow users volunteering their time and  experience. (Not that being rude is OK even if this was someone's  job...)

Do your best to make your  questions easy to understand. Write in complete sentences, avoid  1337-5p34k, and generally use all those pesky things you learned in  school. If you're not sure of terminology, say so. If you're a not  fluent in English, note it (so that we can be understanding).

Do be generous in your  assumptions. Most people are trying to help, and if they keep asking the  same question (e.g. "How is your disk formatted") despite your answers,  it's possible you're not actually answering the question. If you don't  know how to do something, ask!

Don't use ALL CAPS or lots of  punctuation!!!1! - this is annoying and makes posts harder to read.  Personally, I prefer responding to questions which don't annoy me and  are easy to understand.

Don't blindly chime in with just  "Same for me!" Sometimes there are multiple causes with the same  symptoms, so at best it's not helpful and at worst it confuses the  issue. At the very least, specify any differences (for example,  Fusion 1.0 vs. 1.1rc, Leopard vs. Tiger, mini vs. Mac Pro, etc.) and  possibly do this even if you do have the same setup so that others know  you haven't forgotten this. This is especially true if the original  problem has been solved -- if you really are seeing the same problem,  the same solution should work for you. If it doesn't, chances are you're  not actually having the same problem.

Don't post the exact same  question in a multiple places. If your question is answered in every  place (unlikely), it creates unnecessary clutter and duplication. If  it's not answered in every place (likely), it makes it very difficult  for later users to determine if your question ever got answered. It also  scatters effort of people who are trying to help.

Don't use terminology or  abbreviations you're not completely sure of; even then, be aware that  context matters. For example, BT might mean "BlueTooth" to you, but to  someone else it might mean VMware's "Binary Translation" technique.  "VRAM" might make sense to you as "Virtual RAM", but most people would  think "Video RAM". Being explicit helps people understand what you're  talking about, which is necessary for them to help you. If you're  confused about terminology, see Glossary of Virtualization (and Computing) Terms.

Don't upload huge files unless  absolutely necessary. For example, if you need to show the contents of a  dialog box, take a picture of just the dialog box, not your entire  desktop. If you must show the entire desktop, briefly check for smaller  formats - for example, for large, complex images, jpg is usually smaller  than the default png of Grab or Finder.

Don't say "the latest version"  if someone asks you what version you're using. Imagine the confusion  that would result if you (or the reader) was not aware that the latest  version is 3.4 rather than 1.7! Do take the time to find out the  exact version you're using. If you can't determine this (e.g. how do you  check or specify the patch level of Windows?), say how you determined  that you're using the latest version (e.g. "I went to  and saw no updates").

After your question is completely answered (not just responded  to), it's nice to recognize useful contribution with "correct" or  "helpful" points (you can only give one per post). These points affect  user rankings, which can be seen as a very rough guide to people who post a lot of answers to a lot of questions. Note this is not a perfect guide - some people with low rankings are very  useful/knowledgeable and may contribute in ways that don't generate  points, or just don't post as often.

Users with the VMware-three-boxes icon are VMware employees, and probably know what they're talking about Smiley Happy

Answering Questions

These are some guidelines I go by, and are mostly common sense. They are  of course not binding, just what I consider to be good practice.

People may have "silly" questions, but they may only be "silly" because  you've done something a thousand times already and it's second nature to  you. Remember that this may be someone's first time with  virtualization, a Mac, or even computers in general. On the other hand,  people may know exactly what they're doing (and/or know more than you)  and may have found an obscure bug.

Some people get confused by the "~" abbreviation for the home directory.  I've found that spelling out the entire path (i.e. "/Users/${USER}/")  causes less confusion than using the abbreviation (i.e. "~/").

If you're repeatedly asking a question and the other person isn't  answering (or is answering a different question), perhaps they don't  understand the question. Try rephrasing it or giving directions for how  to obtain the answer you need.

English is not every person's primary language. Try to be forgiving,  especially if someone points out they're a non-native speaker.  Corrections are good, though - they help clear up ambiguities and can  help the other person learn.

If you can (and have time), explain why things work the way they do,  rather than just jotting down a quick fix. Education sets proper  expectations, demystifies computers/software, and just generally seems  like a good idea. It may also help you understand things better - as the  saying goes, you don't fully understand a thing until you teach it to  someone else. That said, sometimes all someone wants is a quick answer.  Also, a quick answer is probably better than no answer at all.

If you find yourself answering the same question again and again,  consider turning the answer into a document (or adding to one of the existing ones). This will save you typing and hopefully make it easier for people to locate answers.

If someone posts the same question in multiple places, try to pick one  place to answer it (preferably the place that makes sense, and where  other people have answered). If necessary (e.g. it's been a while and  this hasn't been fixed), let a moderator know about the duplicates so  they can be deleted. The forum software allows moderators to delete  threads, but not merge them - if everyone keeps the content in a single  thread, the duplicates can be removed, but if useful content is  scattered between duplicates, I (at least) would be more hesitant to  delete them.

Simply posting a link to this document might be seen as unfriendly.  Here's some boilerplate text you could use (modify as appropriate):

Hi, welcome to the forums! We'd like to answer your  question, but there just isn't enough information in your post to be  able to do this. Please take a look at
HOWTO: Ask (and Answer) Questions
and follow up with details about your situation.
Tags (1)

Thanks for putting this together, I learned a few things so it was worthwhile

I think it might be good to ask for language version as well in the "problems with a guest" -> "guest operating system" question, since sometimes there are problems specific to non-english versions of Windows. Something like "Guest operating system (including language, e.g. Windows XP Pro ENG, Ubuntu 7.04)". It may however clutter the answer a bit (only negative I can think of). Including an example with non-english version of OS might do the job alone (i.e. "Guest operating system (e.g. Windows XP Pro German, Ubuntu 7.04)")

Also explicitly asking for info about 64-bit could make sense.

In both properties (language, 32/64 bit) it could make sense to allow for the default ones (ENG, 32-bit) to be implicit (i.e. when someone does not mention info about language, the default variant is assumed), but could also make it hard to distinguish whether the "asker" simply forgot to include the info and is using the non-default variant, or whether they really do use the implicit variant.

These are just thoughts, maybe I am just making much a do about nothing - let me know what you think.

I don't recall any guest language-specific problems, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to ask. I hoped the 64-bit/32-bit was hinted at by the example of "Ubuntu 7.04 64-bit", but also added it.

In general, I assume English and 32-bit unless the user says something that hints otherwise. I think explicitly stating default assumptions like this is a bad idea, though, since as you note it may encourage users to omit details.

OK, I did not do my research well and got distracted by only one item that I accidentally found ("In new virtual machines, the VMware Shared Folders shortcut is not created on certain French or Japanese Windows desktops."). I was without reason supposing there are more of these Smiley Happy But I think the way the document asks for this now is great.

I read your comments on Etiquette - basically common sense

my frustration is that for the service request file, the agent responding to it didn't exercise such common sense - I stated that I had a legit site license and the reply I got was how to get media and a key - didn't indicate that the agent had read the SR past the first sentence

and with 24 hour turnaround, nonresponsive replies turn what should be 10 minute issues into something headed for weeks at this rate

so I will post this question in hopes of getting an answer that is at least directed at the question I'm asking

SR description:

When I try to install windows xp professional I get and error pop-up window

stating "the product id you entered is not valid"

I entered a development site license product key, which has been otherwise

successfully installed so it's a valid key so this is an inappropriate error


just to be sure, our site administrator generated two more keys and I created

a new virtual machine, re-installed, and tried those keys and that didn't

work either


"From the description what I have understood is, when you are trying to

install Guest OS in VMware Fusion, it is asking for product key.

Product key the License number for your Guest OS, which you will get on the

purchase from the Guest OS Vendor (e.g. if you are installing any version of

Windows OS, on Purchase, Microsoft will provide you a Product Key along with

the installation Disks)."

Hi, I just bought a MacBook Pro but since have always been a PC user and all my programs are in PC, bought the VMWARE Fusion. I managed to install that onto my MacBook, but have been unsuccessful in uploading the Windows Vista-32 bit. Does one need to be connected to the internet to install windows on the IMAC? I open a virtual window and go through the steps and put in the Windows disc when it asks but then it says "operating system not available" Also, does the VMWARE Tools need to be installed first? I have been unable to do that as well? Please help.

I recently downloaded the upgrade fusion 2.0.1 and when I installed it was fine then the system froze and was not able to close it or to reopen it again, I try to reload the program and I lost all the information I had. Then I started to load everything again but I noticed that when I was going to disconnect my wireless I had several other USB items to be disconnected labeled (hardware). I closed my wireless and I close some of the others that I have never seen before, then I noticed that my wireless was not able to be access anymore, now I have to log in separate when I log online and before I could access the net with my windows or mac at the same time now I log on my mac but my windows explorer does not log in.

Question 2: Is there a way to find my windows files in my mac folder, hopefully I can find some of my files I lost.

Thank you


How do I change status of the thread back to unanswered???

I accidentally clicked on Helpful Answer button or something like that...and now I don't know how to take it back:-(((

Btw. the answer wasn't any king of helpful answer...

Thank you

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