VMware Fusion 12 Metal Support

VMware Fusion 12.0 macOS guest Metal Renderer Support

Ok.. I’m so ecstatic.. a quick blog post must be written…

The Product manager of VMware Fusion, Michael Roy, had a classic “One More Thing” item in his VMworld presentation. The presentation was “What’s New with VMware Workstation and VMware Fusion”.

While running a Big Sur macOS guest, he showed “Metal Support” working without a hitch… Now we have been told for years that we cannot get 3D Acceleration in a macOS guest. Seeing this on the list of “things to come” was already pretty great. Something to look forward to.
During that same presentation he also showed the .vmx settings in order to get that working. Once the feature lands…

Who wants to wait?

So of course, immediately after the presentation I had to try. No matter that it is only supposed to be working in a future version of VMware Fusion 12.0.
After adding the .vmx settings from the presentation I got a “Invalid configuration” error (or something along those lines).
OK, sad panda.

But … silly me did not look at the vmware.log file. Today I was poking Michael a bit on twitter and asking about how well Metal works on Big Sur beta 9 and that it is “so hard to wait” and he tells me “but you can try it yourself already”… 😮

OMG.. that’s when I realized that I had missed a detail..

It’s all in the details

Also my host wasn’t running Big Sur yet (I had only run it in a VM)
… so… next hour or so I was frantically busy installing Big Sur Beta 9 on my 2014 Mac Mini and YES… IT DOES WORK and it is SOOOO SMOOTH

This is the best thing since sliced bread.


THANK YOU VMware Fusion team!

In summary

This is not an officially released feature, treat it what it is: Experimental

Required: minimum of macOS Big Sur as host OS
Required: minimum VMware Fusion 12.0
Guest OS support: minimum of macOS Big Sur as guest OS (earlier macOS versions are missing the GPU paravirtual kernel extension for this – AppleParavirtGPU.kext. Unless apple steps in here and releases that for earlier macOS versions, it likely isn’t coming to earlier guest OS’s)

You have to add the following lines to the .vmx file of your VM in order to test this:
svga.present="FALSE"
appleGPU0.present="TRUE"
appleGPU0.screen0.width = "1680"
appleGPU0.screen0.height = "1050"

To be honest I don’t even have the lines with width and height, but that’s how you can define that for now.
It will only get better from here on once it is officially supported.

Update 2020/11/13: Another tip from Michael Roy (thanks Mike) is to update your VMware Tools to 11.2


Now that you are here. Please check out our product “Vimalin“. It has been designed for making your life easier to get good backups of your VMs. We support VM’s running in VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and VMware Player.

More info at our main page


Boot menu

Install Android x86 in VMware Fusion

Thanks to the Android x86 project you can run Android as a VM in VMware Fusion. Getting this to work requires a few additional steps that are not exactly obvious. So I figured to write this post.

For this post I used the latest release Android 9.0 r1 which you can download from OSDN with this direct link android-x86_64-9.0-r1.iso

Install Android 9.0 as a VM

In VMware Fusion, from the menu select File -> New.
You will get the following screen:

Select Installation method

Drag your downloaded .iso file onto the designated area and press the Continue button.

Select your .iso file
The create a new virtual machine wizard

As you can see I had installed android earlier. The “New VM” wizard comes with the .iso file you dragged onto it selected and it detected it as “FreeBSD 10 or earlier”. That guest OS type isn’t exactly correct, but it doesn’t matter for getting this to work. Select “Continue”.

Select BIOS
Select “Legacy BIOS”, not UEFI

For the firmware option, it is recommended to stick to the “Legacy BIOS”. Click Continue again.

Finish Wizard mode
Finish Wizard

Customize Virtual Hardware

Here we click on “Customize Settings” and not “Finish” as the defaults need to be tweaked for the VM to run better. When you click “Customize Settings you first get an opportunity to rename your VM to something better.

Customize Change Name
Give the VM a proper name

I figured to call the VM “Android x86_64”, but name it anything you like. Then press Save.

Virtual Machine Settings
Adjust the default VM settings

Here we can change the default VM settings.
Click on “Processors & Memory”

Processors and memory
Change default vCPU’s and RAM

The default was 1 vCPU and 256MB of RAM. That’s really not sufficient, change to 2 vCPU’s and 2GB of RAM. More can be added later if it isn’t enough for your usage. No need to change any of the advanced options.

Click on “Show All” after making the changes.

That brings you back to the settings. Click on the “Display” icon to change the settings there.

Display Settings
Enable 3D and assign more video RAM

Enable 3D and change the shared graphics memory to 1024 MB.

Android Installation Walk through

Click back on “Show All” and close the “Settings” dialog. You can now boot your VM. It should come up with the following screen.

Boot menu
Select “installation” in the boot menu

Select “installation” from the boot menu here as we are going to create it into a VM.

Create Partition
Create a new partition

Partitioning the virtual disk

We are going to create a new “All in one” partition, type “C” to select the “Create/Modify partitions” option. With the arrow keys you can navigate on the options. Press the “Return” key with the “OK” button highlighted like here.

Create GPT or MBR
Create MBR

We are not going to use GPT, but MBR instead. So select “No” like the default and press “Return” once more.

Create New Partition
Create a new partition

Use the “Right Arrow” key to select “New” and press Return.

Create Primary Partition
Create a Primary Partition

The partition wizard wants to know if you want to create a Primary or a Logical Partition. Choose the default (Primary) and press return.
After that it asks how big that partition should be. It will default to the whole disk. Which is correct.

size: 21467.98

Press Return again.

Make bootable
Make partition bootable

We need to make the partition bootable in order to be able to start up. So with “Bootable” selected as above press “return”. The “Boot” flag should show up, just as in the screenshot above.
Arrow right a few times to go to “Write”
Press “return”

Write New partition
Write partition to disk

You are asked if you are sure as it is a potentially data destroying operation. This is a new virtual machine, so yes we are sure. Type “yes” -without typing the parentheses- and press return. As you can see in the above screenshot, the letter “s” fell off the screen. Don’t worry about that.

Select partition
Select new partition

Once we have a partition, we can select it.
Select “OK” and return once more.

Create file system
Create ext4 file system

Our partition needs a file system, select ext4 and continue.

Confirm write ext4
Write out ext4 file system

Yep, format as ext4, Select Yes and continue.

Install a boot loader

Install Grub
Install boot loader

Choose to install the GRUB boot loader.
Select Yes and continue.

Copy the installation files to the VM

Install system as read/write
keep system read only

We do not need system read-write so keep it read only. Select “No” and continue. The installer will copy all the files to your virtual disk and once that completes, the following screen appears.

Android is installed
Android installed

Fix the problems

You can try the “Run Android-x86”, but it won’t work. You’ll get a blinking cursor, so you might just save yourself the trouble of having to press reset in the toolbar and go straight for a “Reboot”.

Grub boot menu options
Grub boot menu options

Android is now installed on your virtual disk. However trying the first options gives you a black screen and all the other “Debug” options give you a screen with text scrolling by that all stops at “USB video class driver”

Boot into LVDS
Booting into debug

Not exactly great.
But it can be fixed.

Adjust boot options

So reset the VM, get back to the “Grub options” screen from above.
Select “debug mode” and press the letter “e”, the on line “kernel” press “e” again to edit.

edit grub kernel line
Edit grub kernel line

At the end of the line add “vga=834 nomodeset xforcevesa” like above. Press return to get back in the previous screen and press “b” to boot with the new changed kernel parameters.

boot into debug
Booted into debug

Let it boot. Android might appear to hang at the end, but if you press “return” then you will get a prompt.

edit grub menu.lst
remount read-write, edit grub menu.lst

Remount the disk as read/write

At the prompt do the following

Now remount the partition so you can make changes:
mount -o remount,rw /mnt
Then edit the default menu file for grub in vi:
vi /mnt/grub/menu.lst

Edit in vi
Edit boot option in vi

Use the cursor keys to navigate to the first line that has “kernel” at the front. Press “Shift+a” to move the cursor behind “/android-9.0-r1” then press space and add:
vga=834 nomodeset xforcevesa
at the end of the line.
Save your changes in vi by pressing the Escape key, the type the letters :wq
which should save your changes to the menu.lst file if all went well.
Reboot the system:
cd /
reboot -f

and the system should reboot into the graphical Android environment.

Android welcome
Android welcome screen

Success

That’s it.
From here it is a matter of following normal Android steps except for the network settings.
For networking select “Virtual WiFi” and it should work OK.

android 9
Android 9 in a VM

All the steps above have been reported to work equally well in Workstation Professional 15.5.1

The following links have helped a lot while I had the initial issues getting this to work:
https://www.itsmdaily.com/install-android-on-vmware-fusion-osx/
and this one (in particular the steps from stack exchange user ajira:
https://android.stackexchange.com/questions/144535/android-x86-marshmallow-not-booting-on-virtualbox-and-vmware-workstation#155950


Now that you are here. Please check out our product “Vimalin“. It has been designed for making your life easier to get good backups of your VMs. We support VM’s running in VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and VMware Player.

More info at our main page


Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrade

Now might be the right time to update to Windows 10 if you have a virtual machine running Windows 7. You don’t really want to keep on running with a VM that is no longer receiving Windows Updates.

Upgrading from Windows 7 (or 8) is as simple as downloading and running the installer from https://www.microsoft.com/software-download/windows10 This is still free, even today in Januari 2020.

This week at the VMware Forums there was a few people who had problems upgrading to Windows 10. The error is as follows:

“This device isn’t compatible in Windows 10. Contact the manufacturer for more info.

LSI Adapter, Ultra320 SCSI 2000 series, w/1020/1030″

You would see a similar error if you happen to use a Buslogic scsi adapter. Neither of those adapters have drivers for Windows 10 and as such the update gets stuck in a continuous loop.

Luckily though we are running a VM and changing hardware is therefor relatively easy and comes at a minimum cost (it is free!) But, you can’t just change the adapter as then you will end up with problems booting. There is however an easy way around that issue.

So cancel the upgrade and follow these steps. The screenshots below are for Windows 8, but it will also work for Windows 7. This article is written for VMware Fusion, but the same trick also works for VMware Workstation Professional and VMware Workstation Player.

Prerequisites:

  • Make sure your Windows is activated,
  • that the virtual hardware is up-to-date and
  • that VMware Tools is installed and the most recent version.

Step 1: Shut down your VM and make a backup

You can make a backup by closing VMware Fusion (or VMware Workstation) and make a copy of the complete VM to an external disk.

Step 2: Add the LSI SCSI SAS controller to the VM.

With the VM shut down and the VM window closed, go to Virtual Machine Library in VMware Fusion. Then select the VM, use right click (Ctrl+click) and hold down the option key. In the context menu, the option “Show in Finder” will change into “Open Config File in Editor”

Edit Configuration vmx file in TextEdit
Hold down the option key to edit the config file

In TextEdit, make sure you do not have smart quotes enabled. (File menu -> Preferences, the checkbox should not be ticked)

Smart quotes disabled in TextEdit

With all that out of the way, now look for the following bit of text in your vmx file. Please be aware that the lines do not have to be in this order, they can be anywhere in the .vmx file.

If you have a buslogic scsi adapter you will have this snippet:

scsi0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0.virtualDev = "buslogic"
buslogic.noDriver = "FALSE"

If you have a parallel LSI scsi adapter, then you will have this snippet:

scsi0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0.virtualDev = "lsilogic"

We need to be able to use the LSI Logic SAS scsi driver. We cannot change that here now as Windows will not be able to boot. So instead we are going to let Windows load the new driver for us.

Add the following line to your .vmx file.

scsi1.present = "TRUE"
scsi1.virtualDev = "lsisas1068"

Note that instead of scsi0 it now says scsi1. This is important!

We are adding a new LSI SAS adapter in addition of the scsi adapter we already had.

Now save the file and exit TextEdit.

Step 3: Load the drivers for the new scsi controller.

Boot your VM. If you followed the directions carefully, then the VM should still boot without any issues. Log in and verify that we have indeed loaded a new SCSI adapter. (Start menu -> right click -> Device Manager)

Storage conttrollers now has an LSI SAS Adapter listed
LSI SAS Adapter

That was the tricky part.

Step 4: Remove the old scsi adapter and switch over to use the new one

Now shut down your VM again and go back to editing the .vmx file. (use our earlier steps).

Locate the lines for the old parallel LSI Logic or buslogic adapter and remove those lines. This will remove the adapter that is incompatible with Windows 10.

Then change the lines we added from scsi adapter 1 to scsi adapter 0.

Eg. change from:

scsi1.present = "TRUE"
scsi1.virtualDev = "lsisas1068"

into:

scsi0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0.virtualDev = "lsisas1068"

… and that’s it.

You should now be able to boot your VM with a new LSI SAS controller.

A scsi controller that is compatible with Windows 10.

Beware that changing the scsi controller might trigger the Windows Activation logic. Adding a controller and swapping them appears to be less of an issue. So if you trip up the activation Gods then that is my suggestion to try next.

Another problem you might bump into is:

“VMware SVGA 3D is not compatible with Windows 10.”

Normally that is just a warning with a button next to it that you can use to tell the installer to ignore this warning. After ignoring that you should be able to proceed. If there’s no “ignore this button” then have a look at the following KB article: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2126929

After you completed your upgrade to Windows 10 do not forget to change the guest OS type in VMware Fusion / Workstation from “Windows 7” to “Windows 10” and then re-install VMware Tools.


Now that you are here. Please check out our product “Vimalin“. It has been designed for making your life easier to get good backups of your VMs. We support VM’s running in VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and VMware Player.

More info at our main page


Backup your VMware Fusion VMs, even when they are still running

Making a backup can be problematic

Taking care of the data and time you invested in a virtual machine (VM) is one of the problems. In other words make sure to have good backups. For Time Machine, VMware recommends you to exclude virtual machines as you can’t make good backups with it (see [1] and [2]). The problem is similar with normal backup products on Windows.

You cannot normally make a backup of a machine that is still running. The reason is that the copy of the virtual disk would likely end up being corrupted. This is because there is a high chance that the disk is changed while you are copying the virtual disk file(s). File systems do not like that.

Some alternative solutions

A suggestion is to move your data out of the VM and save it at your host while accessing it via shared folders. This by itself breaks the encapsulation of a VM – have everything in one package. On top of that, shared folders aren’t very performant. Not an ideal solution either.

Of course you can make a manual copy of the VM when it has been shut down, but that means having to set aside time to do so. Now you also have to make sure to not forget doing so on a regular time.

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could make easy backups of your VMs in an automatic way and not having to worry if you left them running or not?

Enter Vimalin

The above got me thinking and work on a product called “Vimalin”.

With Vimalin you can schedule backups of your virtual machines. Vimalin uses VMware automation to detect if the virtual machine is running or not. If the VM is running at a time when the backup is scheduled then Vimalin knows about that. In that scenario it uses VMware snapshot technology to be able to make a consistent virtual disk copy. In that case it also copies the machine state and memory contents from your VM.

As a result when restoring the VM, you end up with a restored machine that looks exactly like it was suspended at the time of the backup. It does this all by using VMware automation and does not require you to install an agent in the VM. Both VMware Fusion as well as VMware Workstation Professional are supported.

You can read more about how to use Vimalin (including screen shots) in the online documentation

or you can download the latest version from our download page and test drive it for yourself.

There is a 60 day trial period. After 60 days it changes into the free version which still allows you to make backups or restore them, but it disables the scheduling and email notifications feature.


Free Vimalin 2.5 license for vExperts

Congratulations with your 2020 VMware vExpert award!

We do appreciate your efforts and contributions to the VMware community and therefor like to give you a free NFR license to Vimalin 2.5.

Whether you use VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation or VMware Player. Vimalin can help you with automatic backups of your virtual machines.

With Vimalin you can run the backups of your VMs automatically without worrying that you forgot to make that manual copy. You don’t even have to stop your VM as it happily makes a backup while the VM is running.

More details can be found at the main site.

Please fill in your details below


    Please use the same email address as for your vExpert communications.

    and after verification of your details we will send a free license to your email ASAP.


    Import backup targets

    One of the main new features of our latest release (version 1.0.298 see download page) is the ability to import backups.

    Normally Vimalin keeps track of all your backups in a database and based on the data in there it will show you an overview of all the backups you currently have. Those backups can be on different disks and/or network locations.

    That works great. But what now if you happen to do a fresh install of macOS and you don’t have that old database available? Then Vimalin would not be able to locate those previously made backups. Until now.

    Another scenario is if you have multiple machines that you backup via Vimalin. Normally you only see your own backups. Vimalin stores the backups per host, and the database is stored locally so normally you do not see backups from other hosts.

    If you want to put back a backup from another host then there was no easy way to do that. This new feature also makes this much easier.

    So how does it work?

    If you add a backup Disk Target then Vimalin will now verify if it has been used by Vimalin before and if it has it displays the following popup:

    If you select “Yes” then it will scan the contents of the Disk target and report back what if found.

    You can then verify what backup have been found in the backup archive screen:

    As you can see in our example it found 2 backups of 2 VMs. The first one is a backup that was made onDemand earlier today while the other one is a backup of Win98 made yesterday.

    Note that it will only add backups not already in your database and that it will verify if all the files that make up the database are available. You can even remove the target and add it back to sync with the disk target.