Installing VMware Server on x64 Linux without pain

What roadblocks will IT administrators have when installing VMware Server on 64-bit servers running Linux? This tip uncovers the problems and explains how to overcome them.

VMware Server still has a few snags when installed on a 64-bit version of Linux, but that's no reason not to step up to that level. The 64-bit revolution has begun, and 64-bit processors are ubiquitous. The trouble is that the software applications that run on them are not. This tip outlines some of the roadblocks an IT administrator might run into when it comes to installing VMware Server on x64 Linux and how to overcome them.

The good news is that 64-bit computing means access to more memory greater than 64GB. The bad news is that VMware Server relies on 32-bit binaries, vmware-ping for example, and it is linked against 32-bit libraries that a 64-bit version of Linux will not provide by default.

The first issue that IT administrators have to cope with is getting VMware Server utilities, such as vmware-ping, to run on a 64-bit version of Linux. If this problem is not rectified the VMware Server installer will experiences problems such as:

  • Not being able to determine available network address spaces for the VMware Server networks; and
  • Not being able to accept the VMware Server license.

These errors are caused because certain binaries and/or libraries that ship with VMware Server are linked against 32-bit runtime libraries that are not present in an x64 version of Linux. To solve this problem those 32-bit runtime libraries must be installed. Installing them varies per Linux distribution. For Ubuntu, simply type "sudo apt-get install ia32-libs" to install 32-bit support. Voila! You can now install and configure VMware Server without any problems.

The second problem that an IT administrator will run into is getting the VMware Server Management User Interface (MUI) to function. Out of the box, the MUI will fail to start. When attempting to manually start the httpd.vmware binary an error such as the following will appear:

 error while loading shared libraries: libdb.so.3: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

This error appears because the MUI binary, /usr/lib/vmware-mui/apache/ bin/httpd.vmware, is linked to three libraries that are not installed with the ia32-libs package. These three libraries are:

 libdb.so.3 libssl.so.4 libcrypto.so.4

Luckily, VMware includes these necessary libraries with the MUI in /usr/lib/vmware-mui/lib, it is just a matter of making sure the MUI can see them. Because Ubuntu x64 stores 32-bit libraries in /lib32, the solution is to create symlinks in /lib32 that point to the libraries that are in /usr/lib/vmware-mui/lib. To do this, type the following commands:

 sudo ln -s /usr/lib/vmware-mui/lib/libdb.so.3 /lib32/libdb.so.3 sudo ln -s /usr/lib/vmware-mui/lib/libssl.so.4 /lib32/libssl.so.4 sudo ln -s /usr/lib/vmware-mui/lib/libcrypto.so.4 /lib32/libcrypto.so.4

Once that is done, the MUI should start without any problems, as long as you have followed my guide on installing VMware Server on Ubuntu Linux Server. Let me know if you need any help!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrew Kutz is deeply embedded in the dark, dangerous world of virtualization. He is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), a SANS/GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator (GCWN) GOLD and a VMware Certified Professional (VCP) in Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3). Andrew is the author of the popular open source project, Sudo for Windows. He was employed by the University of Texas at Austin for nearly a decade as a systems administrator and developer and more recently as an analyst for Burton Group.

This was first published in November 2007

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