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VMware VM Startup Slowdown

With this tweak, a VM can start even when errors try to stop it.

Chris: I run VMware Server on a Windows 2003 server and have several VMs configured to start automatically when the physical server starts. The problem that I run into, though, is that if a device the VM is configured to use isn't detected, the VM will sit there and wait for me to answer a prompt before booting. I usually see this problem when on VMs that I copy to my server. Is there any tweak that can force a VM to boot, even if it can't find a configured device, such as a floppy drive?
-- Matt

Good question, Matt. Normally, when a VM boots it will try and initialize all of its connected devices. If a VM is configured on a system with a floppy drive and is copied to a system without one, the VM will fail to detect the floppy drive -- that's because it doesn't exist in the new system. When the VM detects no drive, the VM startup is suspended until an administrator acknowledges the popup generated by VMware Server.

It's situations like this where the easiest workaround is to remove the devices from the VM's configuration that are not present on the new system, such as a physical floppy drive or additional CD-ROM. You could also replace the configured physical drives (floppy, CD-ROM) with virtual drives. Normally, this problem appears once per VM and then goes away as an administrator discovers and corrects the cause of the popup that prevents the VM from booting.

Still, I understand that you'd like the VMs to boot anyway and have the ability to correct any problems later. To prevent a pop-up message from preventing a VM from booting, all that's needed is one addition to VMware Server's configuration file. Note that the configuration file is stored by default as "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware Server\config.ini." To make the change, just open the config.ini file in Notepad and add this line: msg.autoAnswer = "TRUE"

There are several other entries that you can add to the VMware Server config.ini file. To see additional settings, check out the excellent config.ini file reference at sanbarrow.com. While these settings can also be added to an individual virtual machine's .vmx configuration file, server-wide settings stored in the config.ini file will affect all virtual machines on the server.

With the msg.autoAnswer parameter added to the config.ini file, VMware Server will now automatically answer popups for you. If you think about it, the average user is preprogrammed to click whatever is necessary to make a popup go away. So with this setting, your VMware Server has taken on the personality of some of your favorite users.

Hopefully, this little tweak will give your VMware Server the behavior that you’re looking for.

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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