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Department of Computer Science

Technical Services and Support

Running VMPlayer on CS Linux Machine

Running VMPlayer on CS Linux Machine

By Hanz Makmur Jan 2020 • Modified Oct 05, 2021

 
To enable users to learn how to setup, manage his/her own operating system, we have made vmplayer available on all iLab Desktop Machines. (Note: Running vmplayer on iLabGPU servers is not currently supported. )
 
System Requirements
VMPlayer by default  needs fast storage for better performance. VMPlayer is also not compatible with with network storage and causes unpredictable crashes.
 
Depending on the size of VMs you are creating, it also needs lots of space. For this reason, every iLab machines, is setup with local SSD storage where users are allowed to store large data with fast access.
 
Notes: Data stored in this local storage does not count against users disk quotaLocal storage is not backed up and is wiped at the end/start of every semester without warning.
 
Running VMplayer

To run vmplayer, user needs to use GUI based desktop. This can be done by  sitting in front of the machine, run X2Go or  Microsoft Remote Desktop client  to connect to any iLab Desktop machines from home. Once connected, open a terminal window and type :

vmplayer

For first time run, vmplayer prepares your account to use local storage. This means you must use the same machine you created a VM on the next time.
 
Note: If VMplayer is asking for license and/or root password, you likely did not run vmplayer from terminal. Please run it from terminal.
 
Creating a New Virtual Machine.
 
To create a vnew virtual machine, Click on the Create a New Virtual Machine option.   On the install window,  user can use pre downloaded ISO Image by clicking on Use ISO Image and  the Browse button. In this example, we will  install ubuntu 18.4.3 available at
  /common/system/iso/ubuntu-18.04.3-desktop-amd64.iso
 

In the same iso folder, there is also more recent Ubuntu 20.04 LTS /common/system/iso/ubuntu-20.04.3-desktop-amd64.iso and /common/system/iso/netboot.xyz.iso file which allows you todo different OS and download on the fly. See details about what OS available  in url: netboot.xyz/faq

After ISO selection, click Next until you see Customize Hardware. Click on this button to adjust memory, cpu. disk size etc.

We recommend a maximum of 8GB of memory, 25GB of disk which should give you about 16GB of space to play with and 2 CPUs for your VM.  Click Close and Finish button when done.

On Installation, skip the VMware Tool by clicking Remind Me Later  button. When the installation is done, your VM will automatically run.   Don’t forget to edit the VM  and remove the ISO image once you no longer need it.

Note: If you are installing a VM, Vmplayer will ask you to install VMWare tools. Skip this. This is not required and may failure on your VM Installation.

Moving your Existing VMs to Local Disk

This section is for existing users who already stored VMs on his/her home directory. Skip this if you never run vmplayer before.

There is a compatibility issues that are crashing machines during/after using vmplayer. We have narrowed this down to an issue related to NFS mounted home directory. To avoid this, make sure your store your VM on local disk. Each iLab machines has fast local SSD based storage /freespace/local/your_netid  disk every one can use.

Note:  you must use the same machine to do your work and local disk is not backed up. Data stored in local disk does not count against your quota.

If you already have your VMs stored in your home directory, here is how you  move it to local disk.

#make a directory in /freespace/local under your netid
mkdir /freespace/local/$USER
#move your existing vmware folder to /freespace/local
mv ~/vmware /freespace/local/$USER
#create a softlink (alias) for vmware folder so vmplayer knows where vmware folder is moved to.
ln -s /freespace/local/$USER/vmware
Possible issues
  1. Key mapping has been a long time issues with VMPlayer. A solution recommended by VMWare is to create and add a line in ~/.vmware/config  file that says: xkeymap.nokeycodeMap = "TRUE"
    This can be also done by typing the following  in terminal window:
    echo 'xkeymap.nokeycodeMap = "TRUE"' >> ~/.vmware/config

  2. If you have weirdness with ‘<‘ character when you use it with Right but not with Left ,  map Right key to Left key by adding this line in ~/.vmware/config that says: xkeymap.keycode.62 = 0xffe1
    This can be also done by typing the following  in terminal window:
    echo 'xkeymap.keycode.62 = 0xffe1'>> ~/.vmware/config

    Please note that keysym ‘0xffe1‘ may be different for your keyboard. You can get this keysym when pressing Left  key when running xev in a terminal.

  3. If you  continue to have issues with other keys, please see VMWare and the fubar keyboard effect blog for more other options.

Reminder:  Please SHUTDOWN the VM when you are not using it. All iLab machines are subject to enforced limitations.