SIPB VMware Dialup Service

Here are some basic notes on the vmware system for running i386 virtual machines. Its kind of a braindump.

The VMware documentation for GSX server may also be quite useful.


You will find the notes from the cluedump of August 5, 2002 here.


There is an RT queue for vmdialup on the sipb-rt server. The queue can be accessed here.

Accessing the system

At this time you need a local account on the machine ( Send mail to if you want one.

Creating a new machine

  1. ssh in with X forwarding.
  2. run vmware -G to get a gui. Tell it you want to run the wizard. If you are cool, you can run the non-wizard. If so, you probably don't need the rest of this.
  3. tell it the location for your machine. virtual machines go in /vm. Personal machines go in /vm/username or something. Not quite a convention yet.
  4. Tell it how big a disk you want. Disk is allocated lazily. Pick as large as you reasonably want, though you can add additional "hard drives" later.
  5. Set your cdrom and floppy to something sane. Make them start unconnected. At a later time you can repoint them to real devices (eh) or to disk images (much more useful).
  6. Set up networking. The options may be non-obvious:
    • Bridged networking will give you a ethernet interface on the 18.187 network, to get an address take one of the free ones in machines.txt or send mail to vmdialup. Most people choose this option.
    • Host-Only networking and NAT will both give you an ethernet interface local to the machine. This interface might be natted to the outside world. If the nat is broken and you need it, let us know.
    • No networking. No network interfaces. You can always fix this later.
  7. You're done. Or something. File bugs on this description.

Installing an OS

  1. Get install media. Preferably disk images. Put it somewhere on the vmdialup.
  2. Start vmware -G.
  3. Configure your floppy or cdrom device to point to the image.
  4. boot.
  5. To change disks, choose disconnect and edit, edit the disk to point to the other image, and reconnect it.

Booting and shutting down

There are are two good ways to control your new virtual machine, vmware-console and vmware-cmd.

Remote Console

Currently the remote console client is available in the vmdialup locker:
athena% add vmdialup;
athena% vmware-console
Its horribly insecure (see vmware security document), and the port it uses is blocked. The solution is to do an ssh tunnel from some local port number (your choice) to port 902 on steve-dallas. vmware-console, referenced above, is a wrapper script to automate this.

When vmware-console comes up, it will ask you for a password. You should give it your steve-dallas password, which may be your Kerberos password.

After you have authenticated, you will be presented with a list of machines. Choose the machine you want, and then you will be connected to its console.

To start or stop a machine, just use the menu options. Exiting vmware-console will leave the machine running (or not running, if you shut it down).


vmware-cmd is the command line tool for controlling machines. It has a number of options, but for now I am just going to talk about starting and stopping machines.
To start a machine, run vmware-cmd /path/to/machine.cfg start. It will print a message like "start() = 1". The return code 1 means the operation succeeded.
To stop a machine, run vmware-cmd /path/to/machine.cfg stop. This may not work, depending on what state vmware thinks the machine is in. If you want to force a power off, even if the machine is running (or just that vmware thinks the machine is running), add the option "hard" after stop.

Outages and support

The file /mit/vmdialup/www/machines.txt (or on the web here) is where you will say what kind of support your machine needs. If it isn't listed there, then I will freely hard power it and not restart it when I need to.


Currently network isn't done bleeding. Right now a new virtual machine will probably have two network adapters. The first one will be bridged to the outside world (18.187) and the other will be host only. THe host only adapter will happily be given a dhcp address, but it will not be NATed at this time.

Using a vmdialup IP

If you are using, or want to use a vmdialup IP, make sure your machine has an entry in the file at /mit/vmdialup/www/machines.txt. You can see this file here.


Lots of stuff is missing from this doc. Let me know what is missing. I will add stuff as it gets sorted out.

Last modified: $Id: index.html,v 1.13 2003/02/22 17:44:47 tibbetts Exp $