VMware licensing bug blacks out virtual servers

ESX Server 3i Update 2 won't power up if the date is Aug. 12

A bug in VMware Inc.'s newest software update has blocked corporate users from starting their virtualized servers today, according to reports filed by users in the U.S. and elsewhere.

VMware confirmed the flaw and said its ESX 3.5 Update 2 and ESXi Server 3.5 Update 2 hypervisors were affected.

The flaw, which appears to be only in Update 2, which was released about two and a half weeks ago, prevents virtual servers from powering up, according to user reports. "Starting this morning, we could not power on nor VMotion any of our virtual machines," said someone identified as "mattjk" on a VMware support forum. "The VI Client threw the error 'A general system error occurred: Internal Error.'"

After digging into the virtual server log files, mattjk found notes indicating that VMware's software thought his license had expired. "This product has expired. Be sure that your host machine's date and time are set correctly," the log files read.

The date-related bug is triggered today, Aug. 12, mattjk and other users said. "Also in Australia, and experiencing the same issue just as you have described," noted "McBain."

Mattjk suggested a work-around that involves disabling the Network Time Protocol and manually setting the date of all hosts back several days. "This can be done either through the VI Client (Host -> Configuration -> Time Configuration) or by typing date -s '08/10/2008' at the Service Console command line on the ESX hosts," he said.

VMware has pulled Update 2 from its download site; as of Tuesday morning, the normal location simply read "Temporarily unavailable."

"An issue has been uncovered with ESX 3.5 Update 2 and ESXi 3.5 that causes the product license to expire on August 12," a company spokesman said in an e-mail, and added that VMware was notifying customers who had downloaded and installed the buggy versions.

"Updated product bits with correct licensing will be made available for download as soon as possible," the spokesman said, adding in a follow-up e-mail that VMware expects to have a patch available later today.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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