VMware bug keeps servers down

August 14, 2008 | 13:53

Tags: #bug #bug-fix #licensing

Companies: #vmware

Users of popular corporate virtualisation tool VMware were left stranded this week when a glitch in the new hypervisor system left them unable to power up.

The VMware systems running ESX 3.5 Update 2 worked absolutely fine until the 12th of this month – when the systems decided that they were no longer licensed and refused to boot. As VMware is often used in corporations to turn multiple physical servers into a single box – with the energy and space savings that come with it – this caused no small amount of heartache as the dawning day spread across the world.

There was a simple way to ensure that your system wasn't affected, however: don't turn it off. Because the licence check happens only at startup, a running system would stay running with no ill effects – only when the system was shutdown and restarted for any reason did the problem rear its ugly head.

According to CNet, VMware's virtual infrastructure product marketing group manager Martin Niemar coughed to the source of the issue early on with the statement that the company “had an issue with [ESX] 3.5 Update 2” which he confirmed was “actually a licensing problem” which “prevents new virtual machines from powering up after shutdown, and it prevents virtual motioning – moving a virtual machine from one host to another.

An early fix – to “move the clock backwards on the server” has now given way to an official patch available on VMware's website which promises to resolve the bug once and for all – finally allowing users the ability to reboot virtual machines without fearing that they might not come back again.

Do we have any VMware users reading who got bitten by this issue, or is the very thought of rebooting a server – even a virtual one – anathema? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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