December 6, 2011

VMware Removes Some Functionality


I happen to use quit a diversity of VMware products both for personal use and work. On my work laptop I have been using VMware Workstation now for a few years. When working with ESX(i) or VMware virtualization technologies in general I used to love some of the great lesser documented utilities which comes with Workstation. Two utilities that I have used rather extensively were vmware-mount and vmware-vdiskmanager. After upgrading to the latest VMware Worstation v8 I was super impressed with some of the great new features. However, when trying to convert a virtual disk (vmdk) using vmware-vdiskmanager I was awfully disappointed to see some functionality left out on this version.

Short History of vmware-vdiskmanager

So for those who have never used it before (I’m not shocked because it isn’t really advertised much) vmware-vdiskmanager was a command line utility which comes bundled with some VMware products which can convert VMware virtual disk files (files with the extension vmdk) to six different formats:

0: single growable virtual disk
1: growable virtual disk split in 2GB files
2: preallocated virtual disk
3: preallocated virtual disk split in 2GB files
4: preallocated ESX-type virtual disk
5: compressed disk optimized for streaming
6: thin provisioned virtual disk – ESX 3.x and above

I found this final disk type (type 6) to be rather useful and on the previous version of vmware-vdiskmanager which came with Workstation 7 (build 227600) you could specify username, password, and hostname information to convert this disk directly onto an ESX server. However, on the latest Workstation 8 (build 528992) it appears that this functionality has been removed.

The odd thing is that the help file removed the “Options for remote disk” section but the options are still shown later on in the help file under the ‘examples’ section. — Almost like it was unintentionally cut out or cut out in a rather sloppy fashion.

Understandably it isn’t the most popular nor important feature but I for one used to use it for a variety of use cases. I searched online and over at the VMware community forums to find some sort of announcement regarding the change but so far have uncovered nothing.

Work Around

Well as it turns out there don’t seem to be any dependencies for the vmware-vdiskmanager binary itself. So I extracted the old Linux binary for Workstation 7 using to -x option and copied the binary out for portable use. Not sure why they removed this functionality, and I know there are other command line tools such as ovftool but this isn’t quite the same.

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