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VMware ESX 3.5.x Bug and the solution

August 12th, 2008 Posted in Software

Ok, so there is a really big bug in VMWare ESX 3.5/3.5i Update 2. So if you are running an older version, don’t upgrade! If you try to power on or resume a suspended Virtual Machine, you get the following error:

A general system error occurred: Internal Error
This Product has expired. Be sure that your host machine’s date and time are set correctly.

The products affected are:

  • VMware ESX 3.5.x
  • VMware ESXi 3.5.x Embedded
  • VMware ESXi 3.5.x Installable

There is a knowledge base article about it: Unable to Power On virtual machine with “A General System error occurred: Internal error”

But according to the kb article:

An issue with ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 2 causes the product license to expire on August 12, 2008. VMware engineering has isolated the root cause of this issue and will reissue the various upgrade media including the ESX 3.5 Update 2 ISO, ESXi 3.5 Update 2 ISO, ESX 3.5 Update 2 upgrade tar and zip files by noon, PST on August 13. These will be available from the page: http://www.vmware.com/download/vi. Until then, VMware advises against upgrading to ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 2.

The Update patch bundles will be released separately later in the week

So? What if you’ve already upgraded. Some of you might run your entire infrastructure on ESX, and if “waiting for a patch” doesn’t sound like a suitable solution, there is a workaround!

The Workaround

Note: This is only tested on a ESXi 3.5 machine. If you try it on a ESX machine you might need to change the date format, just give it a try.

1. Log in to the Service Console (its the Command Line Interface).

2. Write date -s “08102008″ and press enter.

You should now be able to power on your Virtual Machines (or resume them).

Note: You are setting back the date, so if you are running critical infrastructure on your virtual machines, you might want to turn of “host time sync”. So your VMs won’t sync the time with the server. And if you are running NTP on your ESX/i-server you should turn it off (if you don’t, there is no point in setting back the time).

You also might want to set the time further back, like a couple of weeks, depending on how long time you think VMWare will use to get the patch ready.

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