VMWare Converter Annoyances...

November 8, 2007
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No, I don’t have enough for a whole book of annoyances (otherwise I’d be talking to O’Reilly already)…but I am perplexed by the lack of good documentation and features in VMWare’s converter.  It just seems to lack polish and professionalism.  Don’t get me wrong, I love VMWare Workstation.  Its a great polished product…that’s why I am so confused.

VMWare Converter tries to do the right thing.  It creates large log files with lots of information about what it is doing and what happens when it fails.  The probnlem is that the language in the log files is terse and seems to use phrases that are only meant to be used by people internal to VMWare.  These logs are a good idea, but they seem to be very poorly thought through. They are not helpful at all to end-users like me.

First issue: *“Guest operating system unknown”*Huh?  It turns out that converting a Windows Server 2003 virtual machine (in this case a VPC image) requires that the ‘host’ is Windows Server 2003.  The guest seemed to need to be the same OS as the host.  This isn’t documented but this is the advice I’ve gotten from a number of sources.  As much as it was non-intuitive to me, I tried it and…it worked!  Whaaa?  Ok, got past this problem.

Second issue: “Not enough disk space” The Virtual Machine I was converting was about 12 GB.  I had cleared out the USB drive I was using so it has 50 GB free.  Should be enough, right?  The reality is that my system root drive (C:) was a bit low on space.  It only had about 1.5GB free.  I suspected  the real issue was too little space on the TEMP drive.  Again, the error message wasn’t helpful.  And the log never mentions what drive or folder it is testing that it found ‘Not enough disk space’ on. So I was just experimenting to see if I could get it to work. I searched for settings (configuration files, registry and in the UI) to no avail.  No way to specify what temporary folder to use.  I tried changing the %TEMP% and %TMP% environment variables to be my USB drive.  No luck.  I did find a solution by accident.  I ran the converter using my USB drive as the starting folder. It worked.  Nasty.  The TEMP location is the folder that the application started in?  Yeech.

Too bad I don’t have a choice of tool here.  I can’t find another tool and do not have time to write my own. Hopefully with this information (which I am blogging so I can find the solution in two months when I have to do this again) will help me remember how to fix it when it crops up again.

Been a long day, huh.