VMware is becoming too unstable for me. Is it for you,...?
Hello all, Rawze here...
I have been using Virtual Machines in one form or another for many, many years. One computer just isn't enough for me, and I am also a big fan of isolating different types of software so that any one machine doesn't get too bogged down. I am not, and never have been, fan of Microsoft, though I ran their products for many years, and know them, all too well. I now use Linux (Ubuntu), and have been for about 3 years now, and will never look back, but like many Linux users, I still have occasional needs for some windows programs. Because of this, I use Virtual Machines with one form of windows or another on them for convenience. I also like to use the LOWEST version of windows possible to run any given needed piece of software, so that puts me running XP for the most part, on my VM's for the few things I do need MS-Windows to run. I have been around computers a long time, and I also have software that is much older, that I still like to run on occasion. I have programs for Windows 95/98, Windows 3.1, and even Windows 2.0, that are just unique to their purpose sometimes, but it is indeed rare to go back that far. VMware has always provided that for me, but I have noticed a trend, at least for me, here lately, that has created more and more problems. I first noticed it a couple years back, when I updated Vmware, then tried to install Windows 3.0/3.1/3.11 on a VM a few weeks later, and found out it was only usable, if I didn't do anything too advanced with the memory allocations, etc. on it. That really sucked, as I was a master of manually allocating memory on that old OS, and was able to achieve, easily, 637k free in the lower non-extended ram, allowing me to run programs that normally needed a re-boot to operate back then. Ok, I can live with that, I will just re-boot into the program, like many people used to have to do. I also have never been able to install successfully, the old Norton Desktop (from back before Peter Norton got railroaded by Symantec), ndos, and PCtools-8 like I used to. They simply crash the VM, and all those nice memory hacks, and pieces of software that used to make Windows 3.11 come alive, and be what it was, are now unusable. This has seriously disappointed me about VMware, especially after I read somewhere a long time ago that they might drop Windows 3 support, then decided not to,... But hey, it is all just nostalgia at this point. Then there is Windows98. In my opinion (and many others), the final patched version of 98, still is, to this day, the most secure version of windows that MS has ever built. That is not saying much, compared to Linux, but it was certainly more secure than anything they produce now-a-days. Also, it is not embedded with their 'We want to see what's on your desktop' built-in spy-ware and back-doors, where they can collect all your browsers cookies if they want to at any time. These are the background services that XP and all future versions of windows now have built in (did I say that out loud,... oops,...), that I have to go to great lengths to disable in XP and above. VMware does ok with 98, but there again, if you get too fancy, and use old-school tricks that used to make it faster, or more stable, like disabling the built in hardware VMM, the VM will simply fold, and not hold up. On a real machine, these things do not happen at all,... Enough rambling here, my point is that I am one of those people who can push an os to its limits, and that this usually reveals how unstable a VM host software can get pretty fast. As time has gone on, I have noticed, at least to me, this has become a bigger and bigger problem. It seems the further away from the 'Out of the box' norm you get, the bigger the problems for WM's get. I can accept the fact that not everyone uses computers and VM's like I do, and that is ok, but at some point through all the updates, and upgrades that have been put out by VMware, more and more of these extended abilities get lost. It has gotten to the point now, where even XP is becoming unstable, and many programs that use things like cryptographic services, will crash the VM,... not once,.. but forever... destroying the VM, making the entire machine unusable without re-installing Windows from scratch again on it. Sure, i have seen many people complain that the newer versions of VMware are less stable on Linux, but most do not know why, or what causes it. Many blame the new Linux kernel, others blame this or that, but the reality is that VMware itself seems to be the problem. Because of this, I started turning to its alternatives, like Vbox and KVM. I really like the abilities that VMware VM's have to offer, like plug-and-pay usb on the fly, good video drivers, and seamless copy-past and mouse integration, but at what price?,.. At the end of the day, I NEED A VM THAT SIMPLY WORKS AND DON'T CRASH!!!,... all other fancy tricks and front end friendliness is secondary to that for me. I have tried VirtualBox for a while now, and do have to say it IS more stable than VMware when it comes to pushing things to their limits, and has a lot of the same friendliness than VMware, but it still has at least some of the problems that VMware has. Vbox also has the problem as being detected as a 'Debugger' by a lot of software, and that makes some protected software not run at all. That being said, I decided to try KVM. I got frustrated with it pretty fast, as It was not easy to set up and get my VM running with good video and sound. It wouldn't produce ANY sounds at all, until I deleted the VNC interface, then add it back as SDL, and changed the sound card to AC97. This is a good example of why a lot of people do not like it. It is certainly a pain to get it set up the way you want, but it is still less painful than setting up an actual XP machine on a piece of hardware these days. That being said,... well,... IT DON'T CRASH!!!!!,... Nope,.. I threw everything at it,... It simply ran, and ran well. Why can't VMware do this?,... If it truly IS a top-notch piece of software, then WHY have they made it so prone to crashing so easily. Why have they stripped out all the code that used to make it more stable?,... or at least have an option or something, or a different version that IS more stable, and IS as compatible as possible?,... I am sorry Mr. VMware, but as clunky and backward as KVM is,... I have switched over, NOT to look back, until you guys get your act together again, making your software more stable and compatible. This is my experience on several computers now, running ubuntu 13.1 AND ubuntu 14.04, and by god, that KVM seems to be the most bullet-proof VM software I can find, running EVERYTHING I have thrown at it so far. I still haven't tried to install Windows 3.11 with Norton Desktop and PC-tools-8 yet, but that day is comming, just for curiosity if nothing else,... Until then, well,... At least I can be back to running what I need in XP without problems any more.
Everyone talks about how great this software is, but its instability keeps getting swept under the rug it seems. Am I alone in this?,... Anyone Else noticed that VMware is becoming more and more unfriendly to their older software?,... or more unstable?,.. I certainly have noticed it, hands down.
>>VMware is becoming too unstable for me. Is it for you,...?
No, not here. I switched from Ubuntu (12) to CentOS 7.0 (when that version of Ubuntu went off support and I saw the mess they were making of it). I have not had any stability problems although I don't normally go back any further than W2K VM's. I would guess, but have no figures to back it up, that most users are Windows based and probably Windows 7 or 8 at that. That would lead VMWare to focus on that platform first and Linux second.
For production kind of stuff, we use ESXi. I can't remember the last time I rebooted either of those systems.
Sorry to hear of your problems and I hope you feel better getting it off your chest.
Ohhh man, totally agree with you.
I've been VMware user for many years (VMWare Server 2.0 and my old laptop - a rock stable rig 😉 ).
From Windows Host (WinXP) to Linux Host (for 5 years Ubuntu LTS). With every new release of Workstation, things are worse.
Currently (W10.04) I fight with:
1. Host random freezes when guests machines are running
2. Host hangs during logout/shutdown of windows 8.1 and 2012 Server guests.
Good luck with your new journey (KVM).
May I suggest that you edit your post and add some paragraphs and breaks to make it easier to read ?
Other than that I almost completely agree.
I have not run into the problems with Linuxhosts and old Windows guests that you mentioned - I am pretty sure that most of them could be fixed with using undocumented tweaks.
But why should someone fight problems with Workstation that do not even exist in VirtualBOX or KVM ?
I often have to answer the question: "can I use Workstation for a Production VM that has to be online 24/7 ?"
Several years I answered without any doubts like this: "Sure - just make sure you use one of the late .5* Workstation versions and use either Win2000 Server or Win2003 Server as the host OS. Before using the VM for production remove all unnecessary features/services from the host OS and reboot the host every 6 months."
If I hear that question today the answer still is yes, but only if the user can live with WS 6.5.4 on a 2003 Server host.
If the user needs to run one of the latest WS-versions or needs a host OS newer than Win2003 I simply answer "Forget it!
Today I use Win7 and Ubuntu as host OS with the latest WS versions and consider suspending 2 VMs at the same time as too risky. Never had to be careful with suspends with earlier versions.
With 6.5 I used to run 10 VMs on a cheap desktop PC with 2Gb RAM. Nowadays I have problems running 4 Linux VMs on a 8 GB host.
I would not want to know how many "Regression in version ..." type of posts I made ....
In my observation WS 4.5 : the first version I would rate as "rock-solid", WS 6.5.4 best version ever, WS 6.5.5 / WS 7 upto WS 9 slow decline starts but I still have hope that the process can be stopped or reversed if we just rant about the problems often enough.
WS 10 and WS 11 : I get used to writing posts like "the only reliable way to fix this problem is to reinstall your host OS and then install WS first thing after setup of the hostOS"
Time between major-releases is radically reduced so I expect that engineers have to work on visible new features before they get the chance to work on more important bug fixes.
If it goes on like that I would not be surprised if Workstation disappears completely in a few years.
continuum, I used to be able to run 36 VM's at once (for brute unlocking of MD5 encrypted files, each assigned to a different base letter/number) on my big server here with the older versions of VMware player. Now, I try to run 5 or 6, and everything becomes unstable. I got the server 8 years ago, it has a 24 xeon processor array, and 64gb ram. I purchased it for this main purpose. I use better methods these days, but back then, it worked well. It is like you said,... too many VM's, even when the hardware is built for it, and your done.
[Rawze] Then there is Windows98. In my opinion (and many others), the final patched version of 98, still is, to this day, the most secure version of windows that MS has ever built.
Seriously? And, to top it off, posted under a topic about "too unstable"? Thank you for a good laugh.
[continuum] If the user needs to run one of the latest WS-versions or needs a host OS newer than Win2003 I simply answer "Forget it!
Guess it depends on everyone's usage patterns. I have various guests going back to Win2k, routinely running on Win7 hosts with no problems. That said, other than an XP-Mode which is always on, I rarely run more than 4-5 VMs at once, and hardly ever suspend any of them.
[continuum] Time between major-releases is radically reduced so I expect that engineers have to work on visible new features before they get the chance to work on more important bug fixes.
What _has_ degraded IMO is the access and support. At my first brush with VMware 15 years ago during the 0.x betas, I would send a feature request or bug report and get some meaningful, pertinent reply within a day. Now, there seems to no longer be any official way to report bugs, and support has become a paid-only option. From a recent experience when I submitted a simple yes/no question of the nature of "is feature X supposed to work at all between Windows hosts/guests as documented, since it's not working for me, and among other similar reports, I can't find anyone saying that they've ever got it working" - the final answer amounted to "it should work since it's documented to, but you don't have any support contract active, so can't escalate the question". I realize they've got bigger fish to fry than end users like myself nowadays, yet it's disappointing.
Yes, it became very unstable.
I also experience daily host freezes when I run it. Sometimes it is a segfault in some vmware process, sometimes a Xorg hang...
There are many annoying bugs too.
Like copy and paste not working from the host with Google Chrome.
Library folders suddenly stopping to work : I cannot not move VM objects anymore...
Obviously, the GUI has not received any care for years. It looks outdated.
And, worse, they removed at some time (can't remember when) the VM team feature, which was great...
Are they even willing to maintain Workstation ?
Whether they will continue to maintain Workstation is a very good question. If my experience with the WS Technical Preview is any indication I'd have to say that there are fewer maintainers and even fewer developers. Not only is WS 11 unstable with more than a few VMs running (I hardly have more than 4 VMs open (I have 32GB of RAM!) but thee program startup seems s slower and slower indicating to me a lot of program bloat. Fewer OS guests are supported etc etc.