It’s rude to laugh at other people’s misfortunes – even VMware’s

That was one of my mother's regular sayings when I was young. OK Not the bit about VMware. So I didn't laugh when I saw a thread on VMware's community forum entitled BIG bug in ESX 3.5 Update 2 - If you're using 3.5u2 read this now! - A general system error occurred: Internal Error.

Starting this morning, we could not power on nor VMotion any of our Virtual Machines. The VI Client threw the error "A general system error occurred: Internal Error".
Further digging lead us to messages like this one in /var/log/vmware/hostd.log, and the log file for any virtual machine we tried to power on or VMotion:
Aug 12 10:40:10.792: vmx|
http://msg.License.product.expired This product has expired.

A bit further down another poster comments

Just got off the phone with tech support and they've been inudated by calls about this very problem. It only affects ESX and ESXi 3.5 Update 2. Setting the time back a day in ESXi should be ok because if memory serves, VMware Tools will only reset time forward and not backwards.

and at the bottom of the first page of the thread

Dear VMware customers,
We are actively working on rootcausing the problem. Once we know the appropriate action to take here, we’ll provide an update.
Apologies for any inconvenience.
The ESX Product Team

Obviously laughing heartily at this would mean laughing at the Microsoft customers who are also VMware customers. And before poking fun at other people's bugs one should probably think "there, but for the grace of God go any of us" - and avoid getting into what Steve calls the "Your product sucks" , "No! your product sucks" level of debate. Still, any time I hear someone from VM talk about testing, quality assurance or the like I might just smirk and say "August 12th" under my breath.

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Comments (10)

  1. James ONeill says:

    Like I said there but for the grace of God go any of us…although (Jim) we do tend to find the bugs which stop customers systems dead in their tracks before the customers do.

    And because of the approval lag two people managed to use the word schadenfreude  in less than 2 hours 🙂

    Vijay, I’m waiting for the product group to release availability details of the "Hyper-V server" product. I’ve got an idea which event this will co-incide with but I can’t say "expect it on this date" for obvious reasons.

  2. Anonymous says:

    VMware are a competitor and so when things go wrong for them I’ll point it out (and to answer Nick, a

  3. Anonymous says:

    Am descoperit azi cu stupoare, probabil impreuna cu o gramada de alti "fericiti" posesori de VMware ESX

  4. JimP says:

    When I hear people from Microsoft talking about testing and quality or the like, I might just smirk and say "May 13th", "the second Tuesday of every month" or perhaps just "schadenfreude" under my breath.

  5. Vijay Singh Riyait says:

    It’s interesting that you mention this as I’ve been looking at ESXi and Hyper-V on the HP ML115, which is a cheap 64 bit platform using an AMD 1214 with AMD-V capability. I couldn’t get ESXi to work with this because it didn’t support the inbuilt disk controller. I then installed Server 2008 with Hyper-V and it just works, set up a VM with Server 2003 on it. All I had to do was enable the Secure Virtual Machine Mode in the BIOS. Although, I would be interested to know what the plans are for the bare-metal Hyper-V?



  6. Ian says:

    Just to check I’m fully understanding you, what we should all do is keep a calendar listing all vendor failures.  Then as soon as they make one, we should in future dismiss any claims they make about quality of product or completeness of testing.

    So Norton fails for the update which incorrecly identified system files as infected, then deleted them.

    Apple fails for the Time Machine issues.

    IBM fails for that issue with websphere.

    Borland, well, Borland just failed period.

    Intel, those nasty Pentium floating point bugs.

    But Microsoft, nope, can’t think of any…

    … Oh wait, yes I can; d’ya really want a list?

    Seriously, I can’t believe I took the bait.  But there’s more than enough schadenfreude to go around for the whole IT industry!

    I’m going back to my abacus, you can’t BSOD an abacus 😉

    (Sadly you can’t run Visual Studio on one either!!! 🙁  )

  7. nick says:

    hmmm…negative information on VMware?!  My FUD-sense is tingling!

  8. Bluvg says:

    What scares me about this is the trend towards licensing schemes that have the ability to *prevent the product from working* if not satisfied.  This happened to us with an antivirus product update triggering the Vista WGA feature–no one could log in.  It started with one machine, then spread and spread and spread.  The only option in our case was to uninstall the AV product manually on each machine.  This WGA behavior (preventing login–effectively making the machine useless) changed with SP1, but that didn’t help us since a driver issue prevents SP1 from installing, and the OEM will not release an approved updated version of the driver (despite many requests, which they simply ignore, to put it bluntly).  Extremely frustrating… I hope Microsoft and others steer clear of such measures in the future, as I think they tend to end up hurting their legitimate customers far more than preventing illegitimate use.  This ESX situation is very, very good example why.  I’m not a big open source software fan, but when you’re dealing with these situations, I can assure you that it’s going through your head.

  9. nick says:

    Hi James. Thanks for highlighting the VMWare issue in your post and additionally casting doubt on their ‘testing, quality assurance and the like’.

    FUD as defined by Gene Amdahl who coined the phrase is:

    "the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products".

    Now… try swapping ‘IBM sales people’ for ‘Microsoft’s IT Evangelists’ and ‘Amdahl products’ for ‘VMWare products’ in the phrase above…

  10. sepeck says:


    DST update fiasco:  

    It’s not that it’s rude, it’s that you hope when such happens to you, they will also understand and have the courtesy to not mock you in return.  In large software environments sometimes things go seriously wrong.  

    Karma is a serious pain and on the Internet, your posting live forever.  

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