How to move Windows 2k guest on linux host from Workstation 5.x to Workstation 15.x

Background: I had Windows 2000 running as a guest on a Linux host (Ubuntu 12.04). The host OS failed during an upgrade but I have a backup of the Windows 2000 directory with the .vmx and other files for the Windows 2000 virtual machine.


1. The original Windows 2000 guest was created using Workstation 5.x on a Linux host (Ubuntu 12.04).

2. Workstation 15.x is installed on the new Linux host (Ubuntu 20.04) does not recognize the .vmx file created by Workstation 5.x

3. How to create a Windows 2000 guest in Workstation 15.x and safely transfer the data from the old Windows 2000 directory.

I hope someone can point me in the right direction and thank you in advance for any help you can give. 

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I haven't done any specific very old VMware version upgrade to a recent one, but by following what there already is in this Forum, search for "version upgrade", I'm enclosing one link:


There it says that 15.5 should open version 5 VMs. However, if it doesn't, there are other rather recent threads explaining how to change version numbers in the control file to get it running. That is ASCII file editing, where you can try out - I don't have any specific help items for doing this. If not obvious, you could do it by installing intermediate versions, which would allow Upgrade in many steps, according to supported Upgrades between versions. However, that would be time consuming.

As for copying, a simple copy is enough. If you question was somehow about that, here are some points, which may or may not explain, why your open with 15.5 does not work directly:
- I hope you have one VM computer per one folder structure. If you have, then there is no question what needs to be copied

- when copying, you must SHUTDOWN the VM before copying. Especially with recent Windows versions, people do Hibernate or Standby and of course opening the computer somewhere else, after copying in that state, WILL always fail
- if there is some question about media condition or if there is network in play when copying, you must use a reliable copying method. Interactive copy is never a reliable way and often copied VMs will fail when the copying is not good. In Linux, "rsync -urv" is a reliable way. In Windows, it would be "robocopy /e /v /Z" (for convenience, those are not really reliability-related options). Both of those tools work with directories and they have help for many more options, but not really needed in this, in the basic case.

As for something else. Newer VMware softer versions DO require that BIOS has Virtualization enabled. If you don't have it, it will abort immediately. This was NOT the case with older VM software versions, like 12.x. This is also Operating System specific and I'm not sure what Windows 2000 requires. There are also Virtualization parameters in VM itself and it may be that something there is also required (with Win 10 this is so). But I would first turn on virtualization in BIOS and go on from there.

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Thank you for the thoughtful and helpful response. I wasn't sure that I'd get a response to a problem with an older VMware  version and an even older Windows 2K guest.

Each virtual machine was in a separate folder when backed up. So it's a great comfort for me to know that by copying the entire folder at least my data is safe.

Unfortunately, I was not aware that the VM had to be powered off before copying. In the case of the Windows 2K virtual machine, it was in a suspended state when the backup copy was made.

As indicated in my first post, the host OS failed during an upgrade. As a result I'm unable to simply reopen the backed up Windows 2K guest on the old host and then do a full power off shutdown. The Workstation 5.x on that OS was lost along with any other installed software.

The Question now becomes how best to return the Windows 2K guest to a state where it can be recognized by Workstation 15.x.

Note: The Workstation 15.x I'm trying to move the Windows 2K guest to is installed on a newer computer running the Ubuntu 20.04 OS. To avoid BIOS conflicts mentioned in the link you provided, do I have to find, download and install Workstation 5.x on the old host machine so I can load and then properly power off the Windows 2K guest ... or is there a simpler solution.

Thank you to community and to RaSystemlord for considering my problem.

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You are welcome @jhbb   🙂 . We all have very old computers, which sometimes are needed later on ... so, no problem there.

As for getting your old VM shut down properly, I think you do need the old Host to do that. It's a windows thing, which I'm not fully familiar with, but I think that things like computer architecture, namely processor, play a role in trying to get the computer up and running from a standby/suspend/hibernate state. So, if you have the exact same (or very similar) hardware present, I think it is doable. I cannot think of any simpler solution that this.

Luckily with Linux recreating the same computer (or similar) is not really a big problem. I hope you have the old VMware software available at some place ... if you need any recreation.

For simplicity, you can also run the VMs from an external USB drive and perhaps thus reduce the number of required copies. From SSD/USB-3 VMware runs really well. For this use, even USB-2 is reasonably fast. External HDDs work too, but are very slow in comparison.

Also, keep a relevant VM backup somewhere from each step.

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Thanks...as for old computers I have many hidden away in my basement, even going back to the Radio Shack TRS 80. 😎

I anticipated the likely response so, since my last post, I've been searching available downloads on the VMware site as well as generalized searches.

Workstation 5.x for a Linux host doesn't seem to be available for download from the VMware site, at least I haven't been able to find it. There are a lot of links with instructions how to install it but that's not my problem.

My issue is where I can actually download a legacy version of Workstation 5.x for a Linux 32 bit host. If you or any of our friends out there can provide a current link to site where I can download a copy, I should be able to fix the problem.

The Plan:

1. Download and install Workstation 5.x for Linux on the old 32 bit computer which now is running Ubuntu 18.04 as its OS (ie the most current version of the OS that will run on a 32 bit machine).

2. Copy the backup directory of the Windows 2K VM back onto the old computer in the VMware directory created by Workstation 5.x when it was installed.

3. Hopefully open the Windows 2K VM using Workstation 5.x and then properly execute a power off shut down.

4. Copy the properly shut down Windows 2K VM directory to the newer 64 bit computer running Ubuntu 20.04 and open it with Workstation 15.x.

Note: from other postings I've seen, it may be necessary to add a line to the Windows 2K .vmx to emulate a 32 bit machine on a 64 bit host, namely <  monitor_control.disable_longmode=1  > but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.


Anyway that's my plan. If I can get some help finding a site to download the legacy version of Workstation 5.x for a Linux host, I'll let you know how it turns out.

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That feels like a good plan.

I hope you can get the version of VMware from someplace. In my archives, I found 7.1 Workstation 32-bit .deb -package. That was the oldest that I have. It is possible that this version opens up version 5 VMware without problems.

If you go for Player, which should work just as well, in the past, Player versions were not in sync with Workstation versions.

For double-checking the real reason for the problem, especially if it doesn't work according to your plan, you might want to create a new Win 2000 VM in the new environment and check all the requirements by doing so. Especially BIOS and VM config might require something that hasn't come up in this discussion.

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you seem to make this more complicated than necessary.
From the old 5.x installation all you need is the vmdk-file.
No need to worry about the vmx-file at all.
Please show a file-listing of the original directory.


Do you need support with a VMFS recovery problem ? - send a message via skype "sanbarrow"
I do not support Workstation 16 at this time ...

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What was really the solution that worked?

Did you install an old version of VMware, which was able to start a suspended Windows 2000 computer?

Or could you force open a suspended Windows 2000 computer, by changing VMware parameters?

I'm also asking, because in one previous thread, only the first choice was given as a solution. It would be nice to know all the options that VMware gives.

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I know that it's been a long time since I posted this thread but, frankly I was never able to find a legacy version of Workstation 5.x to download.

I gave up in frustration. I've tried to contact VMware directly and I've tried every type of search I can think of ...no joy.

Another issue has come up that requires me to retrieve a file from the old Windows 2K virtual machine, so I'm trying to revive the discussion..

Please, if anyone out there can help, I would appreciate it.

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@jhbb wrote:

Another issue has come up that requires me to retrieve a file from the old Windows 2K virtual machine, so I'm trying to revive the discussion..

Please, if anyone out there can help, I would appreciate it.

As long as you have all of the pieces of the virtual disk (*.vmdk files), just mount the disk to your host to get files on/off of it.

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Thank you RDPetruska for responding.

Just so that you know my system info is as follows:

Office Desktop System Information as at Sep 21, 2022:

CPU: Intel Core i7 4770 @3.4 GHz

Host O/S:  
Kernel: Linux 5.4.0 125-generic (x86-64)
Distribution: Ubuntu 20.04.5 LTS

Product: VMware Workstation 15 Player
Version: 15.5.7 build-17171714

Existing Guest:
Windows 10

Target Guest:
Windows 2000


The contents of my old Windows 2K virtual machine are as follows:



This old Windows 2k virtual machine was originally created using VMware Workstation 5 and the *.vmdx files are not recognized by my current VMware Workstation 15 Player program.

When I open my current VMware Workstation 15 Player and I try to 'open an existing machine' using the Windows 2k directory above. It doesn't work. The VMware loading splash page appears briefly then the VMware Workstation 15 Player simply shuts down. That's the problem that I describe in my original post.

Could you expand on your suggestion to mount the *.vmdx? Without an earlier version of VMware running, my linux operating system isn't going to be able to read the *.vmdx files which contain the Windows 2k o/s and the individual document files that are contained therein.

I may not be understanding your suggest. If so please forgive me.

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The full Workstation Pro package includes built-in function (stick with ver 15 if you can, or no higher than 16.1.2) to mount a virtual disk to the host as another disk drive.  That way you can browse the contents, copy/drag/drop files to and from the virtual disk all without having to have the VM running.  Since you are running a Linux host, you may need to have the fuse library installed to recognize the NTFS file system on your Win2000 disk.

You can install the Pro version as a trial, use the functionality to retrieve your files, then uninstall and return to the Player version if you like.  Or, keep the Pro installed -- after the 30 day trial, the advanced features will no longer work, but the Pro package includes the same Player UI which you have now, which will keep running exactly like currently does.

There are other ways of mounting the virtual disk to the host but that's the easiest.

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