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October 13, 2010

12minutes: Chromium OS FAQ: VMware ESX is not supported by default kernel ?

Filed under: 12minutes, best_practices, ChromeOS — Tags: , — natiku @ 8:50 am

12 Minutes: Chromium OS Based on discussion in chromium-os-discuss looks like there is not all needed drivers included in default x86 board.

Issue:

I was hoping to run it directly on ESXi 4.1. I’m sure I can start with any VM format that works and convert it with vCenter Converter as needed.

Answer:

I was preparing some OpenSolaris JeOS based images for variety of formats including ESX 3.5 so here is my 2 cents:

First issue (if I remember it correctly and is still valid for ESX4.x). ESX don’t support IDE based disks as VM storage and virtual ide controller is only used for CD, so I think then main issue here will be then vCenter Converter will convert disk to SCSI type, but Chromium OS don’t have needed SCSI driver (drivers are reduced to get smaller and faster images).

Second issue can be change in changed CHS mapping, I saw past sometimes during IDE – SCSI conversion changes in CHS geometry so some Linux VMware player images with GRUB legacy don’t boot after conversion due this.

Yes, true is Chromium OS use as legacy loader Syslinux 3.x and GPT which protective partition by definition ignore CHS (and partition boot flag), but on some BIOSes this combination make strange thinks from simple not booting to even system just hang right after you plug drive in !

Here is all needed VMware drivers in Linux(Gentoo) Gentoo VMware Guest

VMware LSILOGIC need Fusion MPT driver in Linux

I see in todays default Chronium X86 kernel
“CONFIG_FUSION is not set”
See Linux kernel fusion

So there is SCSI disks support needed by USB disks anyway, but not needed LSI driver.

Trick is then Chromium OS today don’t use initrd, all drivers need to be in kernel so kernel size is limited by amount of included drivers, may be this is design decision because Chrome OS is to be produced per “device” ?

It can be easily tested in Desktop products when LSI (FUSION) driver is included:

1. Start original ide image in VMware Workstation in IDE mode, check if boot OK
2. Convert disk to SCSI and move it to LSILOGIC SCSI adapter
3. Start converted SCSI image in VMware Workstation or Player

Is ESX 4.x finally supporting booting OS from IDE disks ?

Yes, IDE controler is there in ESX and you can connect Virtual CD-ROM there.

Unless is specially stated somewhere is ESX 4.x release notes as new feature, IDE disks are not supported in ESX due to poor IDE perfomance and scalability, but it can work for it.

From VMware vCenter Converter Standalone 4.0.1 Release notes:

What’t new
– IDE support
— Support for vSphere 4.0 as source and destination targets:

From ESX 4.0 release notes:

An IDE hard disk added to a hardware version 7 virtual machine is defined as Hard Disk 1 even if a SCSI hard disk is already present
If you have a hardware version 7 virtual machine with a SCSI disk already attached as Hard Disk 1 and you add an IDE disk, the virtual machine alters the disk numbering. The IDE disk is defined as Hard Disk 1 and the SCSI disk is changed to Hard Disk 2.

Sou you can try change disk type on converted disk manually back to IDE, reattach it as IDE and try it.

Converting a virtual IDE disk to a virtual SCSI disk

PS: I am working on x86 Chromium OS DEMO prototype where one image can be used for various IDE disk based virtualizations and direct usb boot with GRUB2 loaded and GPT protective partition converted to comply also CHS mode.
I will use as legacy boot loader GRUB2 because in will allow better debug various issues and it has better old BIOSes compatibility.

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