VMware Tools, Windows 7 and random reboots

Reviews some issues with VMware tools, Windows 7 and random reboots.

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I’ve been having an issue with VMware Tools since I moved over to vSphere4.1. What happens is this, if you do a typical installation after a clean installation of Windows 7 (and I believe W2K8) then midway through the installation the VM is randomly and arbitrarily rebooted. Of course, on a busy day where you're doing far too many different things at once, it’s one that is easily missed. I was so convinced of this that I decided to...

install a fresh copy of Windows 7 and then snapshotted it before making any changes. I then video’d the entire experience. The reboot happens at around 4min and 40second. You might as well scroll to that point unless you want to watch the most tedious video on YouTube!

Anyway, I took the same VM. Reverted the snapshot, and decided to customize the installation of the VMware Tools. This time I was not including the SVGA Driver from the installation routine. Hey, presto VMware Tools install with an arbitrary reboot. It was thought that vSphere4.1 fixed problems with VMware Tools and this pesky SVGA driver. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. I first picked up on this issue from the rather excellent blog of Jason Boche:

http://www.boche.net/blog/index.php/2010/03/28/windows-2008-r2-and-windows-7-on-vsphere/

I became concerned about it because of problems it introduced with vSphere4.0 U2 and PCoIP. A little bit later it gave me PanoLogic evaluation and some additional funkiness I would rather have lived without.

For my money, I think the KB article – http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1011709 which talks about not installing the SVGA driver still applies. Watch out for automatic updates and VUM upgrades, which might not read VMware KB Articles.

I think this issue is the real source of the deployment problems I’ve been having recently.

[UPDATE: Sadly, this is the case. And I still have cloning Win7 issues with vSphere4.1]

Anyway, I’m going to be experimenting with my new template, which doesn’t include the SVGA driver, over the next couple of days. I will soon know if this is related or unrelated.

Incidentally, I thought I might try a clone of a VM without VMware Tools and was surprised to find that Windows 7 requires VMware Tools in order to be cloned. It seems to be an issue with the Logical Volume Manager service. So, when installing VMware Tools, make sure you install it the right way, without a driver that can cause a random reboot! 

This was first published in August 2010

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