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Gentoo VMWare Fail

According to this bug, VMWare on Gentoo is in a sorry state, with one lone person trying to keep it going. I can't get vmware-modules to compile on my system no matter what I try, which is depressing. Kudos to all of our one-man army Gentoo devs who are keeping various parts of the distro going, but I wonder how many other areas of Gentoo are largely unmaintained nowadays.

KVM was braindead simple to get set up in comparison with VMWare, but I can't get networking to work. This is because I'm an idiot when it comes to TUN/TAP and iptables. I've read wiki articles that suggest setting up my system to NAT-forward traffic into the VM but I couldn't get that working and don't have a lot of time to screw with it.

On one of the Gentoo mailing lists I noticed that a dev has posted some KVM images of Gentoo suitable for testing. But I'm looking to start up an image from scratch and that doesn't help, and it's not going to help me get networking going any easier.

Why do I feel like this'd take 10 minutes to set up on Ubuntu? Look at this, or search for "ubuntu vmware" and see the hundreds of results. Given that it's a VM and it doesn't really matter what the host OS is anyways, I'll probably do that on my laptop, but it's still depressing.

March 30, 2009 @ 5:59 PM PDT
Cateogory: Linux


Quoth Jason on March 31, 2009 @ 12:47 AM PDT

I do occasionally run into various areas of Gentoo that seem to either be poorly or unmaintained, especially with certain long-standing bugs that are still unfixed or even looked at months or years later. (This phenomenon, of course, is not unique to Gentoo.)

I haven't actually used VMware in a while, having replaced all my virtual machine needs with VirtualBox, which does seem to be maintained by an active developer (for the moment), though it definitely has a more desktop bent over things like vmware-server.

Jeremy Olexa
Quoth Jeremy Olexa on March 31, 2009 @ 12:53 AM PDT

That is just the nature of vmware & vbox. They will never work with the bleeding edge kernels until upstream releases something that works with those kernels. So, I'm afraid that it is a choice you have to make there. Of course, kvm will always work with the latest kernel.

A quick howto, I hope it helps. 1) Setup a networking bridge (docs exist elsewhere)

2) Start kvm with the correct options. Here is what I use. kvm gentoo-amd64-stable.img -net nic -net tap,ifname=qtap0 -net nic,model=rtl8139,macaddr=52:54:00:12:34:56 -m 512 -smp 2 -usb -usbdevice tablet

3) See the README here for more help: kvm-tools, github

Quoth numerodix on March 31, 2009 @ 3:27 AM PDT

KVM (and Virtualbox last time I checked) does have that stifling flaw of not setting up networking automagically. I've been using VMWare for close to a decade and it's always "just worked" with respect to networking (even though setting up the vlans in the installer sometimes wasn't so obvious).

Quoth Noah on March 31, 2009 @ 3:31 AM PDT

Hey I've been reading your blog for a while and I can't help but think you might really like Archlinux.

Quoth Brian on March 31, 2009 @ 7:02 AM PDT

@Noah: What advantages does Arch Linux have over Gentoo?

Quoth ph0enix on March 31, 2009 @ 7:48 AM PDT

Arch Linux has source compiled packages for i686 systems (no i386 stuff here).

VMWare is really nice as it allows you to set up virtual switches/lans etc. However, for smaller setups, VirtualBox is another alternative. I am not sure how well supported it is in Gentoo but under Ubuntu, it is as simple as installing the package and running "VirtualBox" (please pay attention to the name of the binary).

Quoth Bleys on March 31, 2009 @ 8:45 AM PDT

It probably would take 10 minutes to set up in Ubuntu. I was skeptical at first, since Gentoo was the first distribution ever that had a decent package management system, but so far I'm finding Ubuntu to be pretty much exactly the same except that "apt-get install" requires more keystrokes than "emerge." That, and it's physically possible to install Ubuntu on my computers, whereas I have tried and failed multiple times via multiple methods to install any non-2006.0 release of Gentoo on 3 different computers.

Ubuntu is now the "hip" distro that has the largest user- and maintainer-base, so it's going to get shit fixed & updated before the other distros do.

Quoth circuit_breaker on March 31, 2009 @ 12:16 PM PDT

I assume you've applied the patch in ??

I've never had a problem getting vmware modules working after patching with his patch... for any 2.6 kernel. hope that helps ..

Quoth Noah on April 01, 2009 @ 1:36 AM PDT


Here's an (incomplete) list:

  • Rolling like Gentoo, binary like the mainstream. This means no monolithic re-installs a la Fedora 6, 7, 8, etc. ad nauseum. This reinforces frequent updating, with the added bonus of not feeling it's a major undertaking (no burning install CDs, no lengthy compile-times).
  • i686-optimized binaries -- this should be faster (YMMV)
  • Flexible package management -- pacman/yaourt give you access to extra and testing repositories, and the AUR.
  • Sensible defaults -- configuration files in clean bash (see: /etc/rc.conf)
  • No bloat -- barebones base system; it's up to you to configure
  • Bleeding edge kernel, and heavy use of kernel modules.
  • A vibrant community (
  • If you like KDE, then you might like kdemod.

This may also be of interest: Arch v. Gentoo

Good luck :)


Quoth Brian on April 01, 2009 @ 7:14 AM PDT

@Noah thanks for the info and the suggestion. I've installed Arch so we'll see what happens.

Quoth stask on April 12, 2009 @ 6:34 PM PDT

You might want to take a look at this forum post: networking kvm (kernel virtual machine)

I'm using this setup for almost 3 moths already and it works very well.


Quoth LesCoke on October 01, 2009 @ 2:20 PM PDT

Sorry to dredge an old topic, but I know why wmware-modules fails to build. I attempted to update my kernel, but failed to make the new kernel stable on my hardware, so i went back to 2.6.23-r9. I broke my vmware installation during the process, so I was attempting to return things to working order and ran into the same failure when emerging vmware-modules.

The issue is: sometime after the 2.6.23-r9 kernel, the /usr/src/linux/arch layout was changed. Back then the x86 stuff was in i386 and there was not an x86 folder as expected by the ebuild. I created a symlink pointing x86 to i386 and the modules built.

however I'm still having problems getting vmware-player functioning. so the verdict is still out on how effective my symlink really was.


Quoth LesCoke on October 01, 2009 @ 3:36 PM PDT

Finally got my player functioning. I reemerged vmware-modules, ran vmware-netcfg, and renamed /etc/vmware/not_configured, among other things trying to get the familiar prompts that used to provide. but now it is now working. Which one did the trick who knows.

Hopefully I will find out when I re-attempt upgrading my kernel.