VMWare is Dead. Long Live Virtualbox (updated)

Updated for audio choice and snapshot recommendation.

I use VMWare for virtual machines on my Mac to do the things only PSOC Creator can do. Modus Toolbox does not support schematic design of internals for PSOC processors. To get that functionality on the Mac, you need to use PSOC Creator. Infineon could fix that by porting that part of the system to Mono, but their heads are in the “Ugh! My processor is Me Too! Ugh!” environment like the other MCU designer cavemen in the marketing world.

Broadcom purchased VMWare and has nuked all of my logins and keys and licenses. I contacted their tech support (after recreating an account) through the website and was sent an email that said I had to contact their tech support through the website. Many links on Broad Com relating to VMWare are now broken, giving you a “404.”

After creating my account I went to download a free tool from VMWare, but since I did not have the right login, (??) access to the web pages for those tools were now denied to me. Or maybe it was a lack of licenses. I could not honestly tell.

Virtualbox to the Rescue

I have been watching Virtualbox on and off. At version 7, the abuser interface is fairly mature. It is functional. Virtualbox works, mostly. It is now good enough to replace VMWare on my Mac running Monterey. Fortunately, it will run side by side with VMWare, so the transition is not extra painful.

Virtualbox requires you to add the USB devices you will eventually connect to the virtual machine into a listbox. This list is under “Settings” (the gear icon), Ports, USB. The USB Plug icon with a green check is what you will use to add the available USB items so Virtualbox can attach them to your VM. Mac will ask you to give Virtualbox Permission to do that.

USB is more clunky on Virtualbox, but since VMWare desktop is being destroyed by The Broad’s actions, you may not have a choice in the future.

Version 7.0.19 and USB

If you download Virtualbox, get at least version 7.0.19, latest. (In my case, it is a bleeding edge engineering release. It worked quite well.)

7.0.19 is the first release that supports USB on Monterey without launching as root. If you have previous versions, you may have to launch Virtualbox as root from a terminal.

Be aware that the root user does not share information on VMS with your real self, but it will change the owner and permissions on all the files, so you have to use chmod and chown again after root uses those files (if you wish to manipulate them).

Faster Than A Speeding VMWare

I was more than surprised to find that Virtualbox runs Windows 10 much faster than VMware. However, setting a VirtualBox machine up the first time is annoyingly painful. You need to do a manual install, and tell Windows you don’t have a Product Key. Do that later after windows is running. VBoxSVGA is recommended by Virtualbox, with a warning icon if you ignore that recommendation.

Windows 10 cannot recover from a hiccup, in my experience. Once you get it working, take a snapshot to recover from win 10 boot loop automatic repair failure mode. The second time, it saved me hours of work. The first time, no snapshot. Win 7 recovers from hiccups quire well.

Windows 7

Windows 7 needs to be selected as the OS type. Also, do not use EFI for windows 7. The other suggestions are the same.

Install Suggestions Windows 10

If possible, make sure you install without an internet connection. In addition, beg, borrow, or steal a copy of VMwareHorizonOSOptimizationTool-x86_64. That was a free optimization tool that gets rid of MS Bloatware and internet polling that drags your machine’s performance into the dirt. It only affects settings in Windows 10 and 11.

In addition, Windows 10 requires an EFI bios. That is not selected by default.

For windows 7 and 10 use the Intel HD audio adapter choice. ACPI doesn’t work on my machine.

Finally, pre-select the SATA connection (in the settings) to be the Virtualbox Additions ISO file. That is similar to VMWare’s Tools CD. Once installed, add the VBox additions, then run the Optimization tool, then work on authorization.

For some good information on windows 10 authorization, see https://msguides.com/windows-10. Trust me, you will be happy to visit that site and read the *whole* article. It worked for me. Advertisements (and there are a lot on that site) are the payment for the service.

Snapshot the machine once working. You are welcome.

VMWare ovftool

Uninstall VMWare tools before running ovftool. They will not uninstall unless being run on a Vmware VM.

The ovftool will fail if there are any “Snapshots” on the virtual machine. Remove all snapshots before running the tool.

Inside the VMWare application (on the Mac “Show Package Contents”) you will find the “Vmware OVFTool” directory. Run the ovftool program in that directory. To use it, the format is:

ovftool /dest/to/vmware-virt-machine/virtmachine.vmx /dest/to/ovf_store_directory

Where virtmachine.vmx is the exact file name of the VMWare vmx file for that machine. It is in human readable xml format. That will convert the virtual machine to the OVF format that Virtualbox can use the “import appliance” menu item with.

If you get an error that says ovftool could not open the virtual machine directory, go into the virtmachine.vmx file and look for “sata0.” That is your CDROM drive. Set the stata0:1.fileName to “” and set the sata0:1.present from “TRUE” to “FALSE”

Again, unless the sata0 entry in the .vmx file is FALSE, then ovftool fails with the “can’t open the vm directory” message.

Note that Virtualbox command line interface is extensive, so the tool is easily scriptable.

Fini

VMware is, from my point of view, no more. Broadcom is stripping them of their advertising stance (the almost free desktop vm’s) because there is no profit in that. They also canceled the ESXI free download. Reduces support costs.

VMWare had the idea of allowing people to use their product and become product champions. As a user, I personally introduced Weatherford International R&D to VMWare and they bought quite a few licenses. Cheap advertising. Broadcom is interested in this quarter, not in the future.

Virtualbox is now at that point I can use it. I would also suggest looking at Parallels. In addition, there is a new kid on the block, Pomox. I don’t know exactly how their model works. I think you can download the apps, and sign up for “service” if you want support. That is what makes open source palatable for companies, the support side.

I hope this post helps you. The hints given allowed me to move from VMWare to Virtualbox, but painfully. Hours of research went into these recommendations.

Enjoy!

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