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Older Windows Virtual Machine Loses Static IP Address When Powered On under Newer VMware Product (1307)

Details

I created a virtual machine under VMware Workstation 3 or GSX Server 2. I configured it with a static IP address. When I power it on under Workstation 4 or GSX Server 3, the virtual machine is reconfigured with a dynamic IP address. This occurs whether or not I upgrade the virtual hardware. Why is this happening and what can I do to prevent this from happening?
42717

Solution

This problem occurs in Windows virtual machines only.

With VMware GSX Server 3.x and VMware Workstation 4.x, changes were made to some of the PCI identifiers reported by the virtual devices. A Windows guest operating system interprets these changes as if there is a new virtual network adapter in the virtual machine. When you power on the virtual machine under the newer VMware product, the Windows guest displays a series of Plug and Play messages regarding the virtual hardware. Windows detects the virtual network adapter as a new device and configures it with default settings, such as an IP address assigned by a DHCP server.

Note: This issue is fixed in GSX 3.1 and later versions.

Windows retains the configuration settings for the adapter that was configured under the older VMware product, however. If you do not upgrade the virtual hardware and later run the virtual machine under the older VMware product, the virtual machine returns to using the static IP address.

If you intend to run the virtual machine under both the older and the current version of GSX Server or Workstation, you can use the following workaround to allow the virtual machine to retain its static IP address when run under the current version of GSX Server or Workstation. You can choose from two strategies, depending upon your circumstances. One affects specific virtual machines while the other affects all virtual machines on the host.

This workaround is needed until you upgrade the virtual hardware of the virtual machine. Once you upgrade the hardware, the option is ignored by GSX Server and Workstation.

Allowing All Older Virtual Machines to Retain Their Static IP Addresses

If you have virtual machines created under GSX Server 2.x or Workstation 3.x but did not upgrade the virtual hardware to the version provided by GSX Server 3.x or Workstation 4.x, you can set an option in the GSX Server or Workstation configuration file that affects all virtual machines running on the host.

On a Windows host, use a text editor to edit the config.ini file stored in C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware GSX Server or C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware Workstation. If the file does not appear here, create the file in a text editor (for more information, see http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1754). On a Linux host, use a text editor to edit /etc/vmware/config.

Add the following line to the file:

vmx.useLegacySubsysID = "TRUE"

Note: If you upgraded the virtual hardware for all the older virtual machines on the host, you can still set the option in case there are other older virtual machines from other systems you want to migrate to this host. When you power on a virtual machine that has already been run under the current version of GSX Server or Workstation, but you have not upgraded its virtual hardware, Plug and Play messages appear. Even though the messages appear, the virtual machine retains its static IP address.

Allowing Specific Older Virtual Machines to Retain Their Static IP Addresses

If you have older virtual machines and you upgraded the virtual hardware for most of them to the version provided by GSX Server 3.x or Workstation 4.x, then you can add the following line to the configuration (.vmx) file for any virtual machine that you did not upgrade.
vmx.useLegacySubsysID = "TRUE"

When you power on this virtual machine under the current VMware product, the virtual machine retains its static IP address.

What to Do After You Set the Option

Once you set the option for a GSX Server or Workstation host, or to a number of older virtual machines, the virtual machines retain their static IP addresses when you power them on. When you upgrade a virtual machine's virtual hardware, the option is no longer needed, and can safely be ignored. Remember, once you upgrade virtual hardware, you cannot run the virtual machine under the older version or GSX Server or Workstation.

Note: If you have already run a virtual machine under a version of GSX Server 3 earlier than 3.1, or a version of Workstation 4 earlier than 4.5.2, you have seen the Plug and Play messages when you powered on under those versions; they appeared because Windows reconfigured the virtual network adapter for a dynamic IP address when it detected a change in the virtual network adapter's PCI identifier. If you add the vmx.useLegacySubsysID option to the host or virtual machine configuration file then power on the virtual machine, you see Plug and Play messages again, as the Windows guest detects the change in the PCI identifier and reconfigures the virtual network adapter with a static IP address.

What to Do After You Upgrade the Virtual Hardware

After you upgrade the virtual hardware, you may see this message:

"The IP address ###.###.###.### … is already assigned to another adapter."

During the virtual hardware upgrade, the Windows guest operating system adds a hidden or ghosted adapter. This adapter appears in the Windows registry but not in the Device Manager. To work around this issue, see www.vmware.com/support/kb/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1179.

Keywords

TCPIP; TCP/IP; TCP-IP; 1307

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