Friday, July 25, 2008

Installing VMWare Server 1.0.6 on Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit

First things first: I did not choose Vista. My boss bought a Gateway DX4710, which is a quad-core CPU with 6GB RAM, with the idea that we could install Windows Server 2003 on it. Unfortunately there are no drivers for Win2k3 and I'm stuck with Vista Home Premium.
Since we're without a test environment at the moment I decided to try installing VMWare Server 1.0.6 on it. Even though I can't add the Vista Home machine to our Active Directory network, I can add virtual machines. The host OS doesn't matter to me in the least, just the virtual environment.

Getting VMWare Server installed proved a challenge because Vista Home wants demands digitally signed drivers. VMWare doesn't come with those, so you have to disable the driver signing requirement. Vista also enables some TCP/IP options on the NIC that you have to disable in order to connect to the local VMWare host with the VMWare Server console.

Disabling driver signing

  1. Press F8 after your BIOS POST screen to get to the Vista boot menu
  2. Scroll down and select the Disable driver signing requirement option.
  3. Log into Vista
  4. Open a command prompt and enter the following commands:
    bcdedit /set nointegritychecks ON
    bcdedit -set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
  5. Restart Vista

Updating the NIC settings

  1. Start > Control Panel
  2. Locate the Network and Internet entry and click the View network status and tasks link under it
  3. Locate your NIC in the list and click View Status
  4. Click Properties in the status dialog
  5. Click the Configure button located at the top of the properties dialog, below the hardware listing
  6. Click the Advanced tab
  7. Change all the following to Disabled
    Flow Control
    IPv4 Checksum offload
    TCP Checksum offload (IPv4)
    UDP Checksum offload (IPv4)

Installing VMWare Server

A reasonable person may think that after changing these settings you should be good to go. Alas, you'd be wrong. You must go to the Vista boot menu and disable the driver signing requirement every time you reboot the computer. You will also get errors when installing VMWare server about the drivers being unsigned. If you click through the errors it will install the VMNet adapters just fine.

After you get VMWare Server installed and you launch the server console you need to select the Localhost option. If you don't see Localhost you either didn't boot Vista with the driver signing option disabled or you didn't change your NIC configuration.


After going through all this, I don't think we're going to use this system to run VMWare Server. It works... with a healthy dose of hacks and crazy workarounds. Heaven forbid the power goes out in the middle of the night. When the box comes back up VMWare can't automatically load any of the VM's since it will load with driver signing enforced, even though I have confirmed with a MS support person (who is a personal friend) that it should be disabled.

Using Vista has been incredibly painful. I understand things have to change, but options I have used for years no longer exist. Start > Run is gone. The Start menu is one long laundry list instead of a cascaded menu. I never found a way to get Explorer to show file extensions. There may be a way to turn some things on , but I find the OS too slow to bother learning.

This is an Intel Quad-Core with 6GB RAM running a 64-bit OS and a 7200 RPM SATA-2 drive. I shouldn't have to wait for it. Restarting takes between 2 and 3 minutes, opening the Network dialog hangs the computer for 2 - 3 minutes. Yes really for minutes, I timed it.


  1. Why don't you install a Linux distribution your comfortable with and put VMWare server on that. No driver signing issues either. Or is there a Foxconn motherboard in that Gateway...

  2. It is a Foxconn motherboard, unfortunately.

  3. Hmmm, that must be restrictions on Vista Home edition. I'm using Vista Ultimate and my start menu has the Run option. Also the option to make file extensions is where it always was for me.

  4. Would you be able to install ESXi now that is free? Would that solve your problem?

  5. ESXi uses a specially crafted Linux kernel and Foxconn does not release any Linux drivers so I'm not going to try. Actually every Dell we just bought uses a Foxconn mobo... it should be interesting when I try loading ESXi on one of those on Monday.

  6. just in on slashdot: Foxconn is bettering its ways in supporting Linux. Maybe there is a way ahead after all.

  7. Would running those commands that you mention in a batch file each time on start up resolve your vmware power up issues or do you still need to disable them using the F8 option? I'm just in the process of installing 1.06 on Vista64 myself so was just curious.

    bcdedit /set nointegritychecks ON
    bcdedit -set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS

  8. You still have to hit F8 on startup.

  9. Thanks for the info on installing VMWare on Vista Home. Are you able to instantiate 64-bit guests? When creating a new VM I was notified that 64-bit guests are not supported on my machine? (HP Turion Ultra laptop)

    With respect to Vista being slow, something's probably wrong with your installation. On my laptop, restarting takes about 50sec and opening network dialog just 5sec.

    Best wishes!

  10. No, I couldn't run 64-bit guests, either. That's more an issue with how VMWare is seeing your CPU, though. They have a VMWare Guest Check application you can run that will tell you whether VMWare can run 64-bit guests on your hardware. (You'll have to scroll down a little to find it on that page.)

  11. It is Vista/64-bit version demands signed, not Vista/32-bit.

    I run VMware Server on Vista/64-bit as well as Vista/32-bit without making those network modifications. Not sure how you arrived in that conclusion.

    Check your BIOS settings to enable/disable Virtualization options. I am running 64-bit guests on my Vista/32-bit host.

    Windows Run is available as WindowsKey-R. However, Start -> the empty box is more powerful than run. As you start typing the command, it automatically finds it, not just executables, but your favorites, etc. etc. Then you can even right-click on the found results and run as Administrator.

    In order to show the file extensions, open up Windows Explorer (Start -> Computer, or WindowsKey-E) then hold ALT to see the navigation bar. There click Tools -> Folder Options. The rest is same as Windows XP, go to View then unselect "Hide Extensions for known file types"

    There you go...

  12. According to the documentation I read, Vista Home demands signed drivers regardless of whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit. Vista Ultimate and Business may be a different story, I haven't touched either of them so I can't comment. And the BIOS in this garbage PC doesn't have settings to enable virtualization extensions or I would have done that first. :-)

    There are probably solutions to my other points of pain, and I don't mean to be crass or unappreciative, but I really have no intention of ever using Vista so it doesn't matter to me. Thanks for sharing, though, maybe someone else will find it helpful.

  13. Thanks for sharing this.

    I did not press F8 before install, I only set
    bcdedit -set loadoptions DDISABLE_INTEGRITY_CHECKS
    not the other one. And reboot the windows. I did not change anything regarding the network. Then I installed the vmware server 1.0.8 on vista Ultimate. Meanwhile, I do need to press F8 in order to make it work every time I reboot the vista.

  14. I have a similar configuration and tried all the hacks given above. I got past the code signing problem though, yes, I still have to do the f8 runaround every time I reboot. My problem now is that vmware does not seem to recognize the nic card. It is a realtek RTL8168(P)/8111c(p). I will probably try putting in another nic to see what happens. The automatic bridging box is greyed out and no nics appear in any box where you chose the physical nic. Any thoughts are welcome. I would agree that running this on vista is silly. This is a multi use home box and I'd rather leave it that way for now.

  15. Solved my nic card problem after uninstalling vmware and reinstalling after rebooting with the F8 option mention above. Apparently it had been unable to load the network driver on installation. It's working now.