ESXi VM – The CPU has been disabled by the guest operating system

For some weeks now, a couple of my virtual machines on ESXi would stop working out of nowhere. They were completely unresponsive (including via the ESXi VM Console). Nothing would help, except a shutdown / start of the VM. Just to find out later that, randomly, the VM would become unresponsive again.

The only human readable information about these failures was in the ESXi host Events and was saying something like this (among other things):

 The CPU has been disabled by the guest operating system

One other thing which I should mention is that all my VM encountering this issue where Linux based, mainly Ubuntu 20.04 as OS distribution.

Not much to work with, but I gave it a try and searching for the error did point me to this VMware KB: https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2000542

The KB is clearly accurate, just that it didn’t help me at all to resolve my problem. The troubleshooting process explain in the KB lead me to a dead end.

Other web resources (for the above error) pointed to articles which explained a procedure for VMware Workstation / Player. Not my case, since I’m using ESXi.

More research done, which took a while – that’s why I’m writing this article, hopefully others with this problem will find it easier – pointed to a BUG. Seems this BUG is a particular case between my VM Linux kernel and the version of the ESXi I’m using currently.

I’ve arrived to this VMware KB https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2151480 which was a game changer. In my case this KB was hard to find, because the title – Linux VM fails with the error “kernel BUG at drivers/net/vmxnet3/vmxnet3_drv.c:1413!” (2151480) – is completely different than the error I was seeing and which I used searching the web.

Skipping the long output at the beginning of the KB, I saw something interesting in lower part of the page:

This issue occurs due to a bug in VMXNET3 vNIC backend which is part of the vmkernel. This issue occurs if the following conditions are met:

    Linux VM is running kernel >= 4.8
    HW version of VM is >=13
    ESXi version is 6.5

All the above fits my scenario, VMXNET3 as vNIC, Kernel 5.4, VM HW version 13 and ESXi 6.5

Like in most of BUG cases, the obvious solution is upgrade. Same here:

This issue is resolved in VMware ESXi 6.5 U1

Just that I cannot upgrade now for various reasons.

So, I’ve decide to look into the workarounds.

Second workaround on the page seems to be more simple and I don’t even have to restart the VM:

ethtool -G ethX rx-mini 0

Of course replace the ethX with your interface name.

Worked like a charm without any visible side-effects.

The other workaround is also doable, but I didn’t want to modify the .vmx file

Power off the virtual machine
         
Edit the vmx file and add the below parameter:
vmxnet3.rev.30 = FALSE
         
Power on the virtual machine

Now I’m just curious if I would encounter the same issues using another vNIC adapter type, like E1000 or E1000E instead of VMXNET3. Maybe I’ll give it a try…

VCSA, 503 Service Unavailable – possible fix

My ESXi hosting the VCSA crashed for whatever reason and after reboot the VCSA was displaying a “503 Service Unavailable” error.

What I was seeing actually was a blabbering long line:

503 Service Unavailable (Failed to connect to endpoint: [N7Vmacore4Http20NamedPipeServiceSpecE:0x00007fa69401a900] _serverNamespace = / action = Allow _pipeName =/var/run/vmware/vpxd-webserver-pipe)

The ESXi hosting my VCSA is not the fastest in the world, so I’ve waited a while, but the error was still there. Searching the Interne returned a lot of possible root causes for this errors, ranging from simple to complex one (like duplicate database table entry where you have to manually touch the postgresql instance).

I didn’t want to jump directly into touching things like the database, so I started with something more simple.

Below is what worked for me, maybe you’ll find it useful and can try before going into advanced troubleshooting.

I’ve connected to the VCSA CLI using the root credentials.

[email protected]'s password:
Connected to service

* List APIs: "help api list"
* List Plugins: "help pi list"
* Launch BASH: "shell"

Command>

Launched BASH by typing shell at the Command> prompt.

Now I have a Linux like CLI terminal.

Next step I’ve ran

service-control --status --all

which resulted in the following output:

[email protected] [ ~ ]# service-control --status --all
Running:
 lwsmd vmafdd vmcad vmdird vmdnsd vmonapi vmware-cis-license vmware-cm vmware-eam vmware-rhttpproxy vmware-sca vmware-sts-idmd vmware-stsd vmware-vapi-endpoint vmware-vmon vmware-vpostgres vmware-vpxd-svcs vsphere-client
Stopped:
 applmgmt pschealth vmcam vmware-content-library vmware-imagebuilder vmware-mbcs vmware-netdumper vmware-perfcharts vmware-psc-client vmware-rbd-watchdog vmware-sps vmware-statsmonitor vmware-updatemgr vmware-vcha vmware-vpxd vmware-vsan-health vmware-vsm vsphere-ui

I’m not a certified expert in VCSA, but this doesn’t look good. Too many stopped services.

So, I just give it a try to see if I can start them by running

service-control --start --all

The next output is a long one, but basically it will check what services are up and start the ones which are stopped

[email protected] [ ~ ]# service-control --start --all
Perform start operation. vmon_profile=ALL, svc_names=None, include_coreossvcs=True, include_leafossvcs=True
2020-04-06T17:31:57.180Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'lwsmd']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.185Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.188Z   Service lwsmd does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.188Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'lwsmd', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.213Z   Done running command
Successfully started service lwsmd
2020-04-06T17:31:57.217Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmafdd']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.589Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.593Z   Service vmafdd does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.593Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmafdd', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.617Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmafdd
2020-04-06T17:31:57.621Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmdird']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.627Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.630Z   Service vmdird does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.630Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmdird', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.654Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmdird
2020-04-06T17:31:57.657Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmcad']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.663Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.667Z   Service vmcad does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.667Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmcad', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.690Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmcad
2020-04-06T17:31:57.694Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmware-sts-idmd']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.700Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.703Z   Service vmware-sts-idmd does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.703Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmware-sts-idmd', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.727Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmware-sts-idmd
2020-04-06T17:31:57.730Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmware-stsd']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.736Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.739Z   Service vmware-stsd does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.740Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmware-stsd', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.763Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmware-stsd
2020-04-06T17:31:57.767Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmdnsd']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.773Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.777Z   Service vmdnsd does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.777Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmdnsd', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.801Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmdnsd
2020-04-06T17:31:57.805Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'is-enabled', u'vmware-psc-client']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.812Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.815Z   Service vmware-psc-client does not seem to be registered with vMon. If this is unexpected please make sure your service config is a valid json. Also check vmon logs for warnings.
2020-04-06T17:31:57.815Z   Running command: ['/sbin/service', u'vmware-psc-client', 'status']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.839Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.843Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'daemon-reload']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.927Z   Done running command
2020-04-06T17:31:57.927Z   Running command: ['/usr/bin/systemctl', 'set-property', u'vmware-psc-client.service', 'MemoryAccounting=true', 'CPUAccounting=true', 'BlockIOAccounting=true']
2020-04-06T17:31:57.943Z   Done running command
Successfully started service vmware-psc-client
Service-control failed. Error Failed to start vmon services.vmon-cli RC=1, stderr=Failed to start statsmonitor services. Error: Operation timed out

The last line above is not too encouraging, “failed” keywords is not something to I wanted to see in the output. I was thinking my attempt didn’t work.

However checking the service status again, I’ve seen the following:

[email protected] [ ~ ]# service-control --status --all
Running:
 applmgmt lwsmd pschealth vmafdd vmcad vmdird vmdnsd vmonapi vmware-cis-license vmware-cm vmware-content-library vmware-eam vmware-perfcharts vmware-psc-client vmware-rhttpproxy vmware-sca vmware-sps vmware-sts-idmd vmware-stsd vmware-updatemgr vmware-vapi-endpoint vmware-vmon vmware-vpostgres vmware-vpxd vmware-vpxd-svcs vmware-vsan-health vmware-vsm vsphere-client vsphere-ui
Stopped:
 vmcam vmware-imagebuilder vmware-mbcs vmware-netdumper vmware-rbd-watchdog vmware-statsmonitor vmware-vcha

This was for sure better than before.

I gave it a try by opening the https://vcsa.local.domain and there it was, the webpag working fine.

I’m not sure exactly why the restart of the VCSA resulted in some services not to start properly, but seems that a kick will do the job.

Ubuntu OVF images for download

Lately I’m playing a lot with virtualization features and for this I needed a rapid way to deploy from scratch new instances. First I had the virtual machines converted to templates, but then I had to rebuild from zero the entire ESXi environment and those images were gone.

I realized then it was more easier to have OVF images saved on a distributed storage and deploy them as soon as I need them. I start looking around Internet and I could not find something that suit my needs.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of OVF images around, but mostly have GUI and a lot of packages already installed that I do not need.

I wanted to have OVF files with low-end hardware and only CLI interface. Why should I download and deploy a 20 or 30 GB instance if the only things I need is CLI? From this I could customize it everytime exactly the way I wanted.

I started to create my OVF files and I’m pretty satisfied with them. Then I said why not to share them with the community?

I did chose Sourceforge to host my files because of their CDN and because it is free. On this blog I have to think how to organize them, because I don’t know if “post” format is the best idea. Until then, please find below the first two OVF images for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

All archives contain a text files with details about distro, user/passwd and services enabled. There may be other services enabled like postfix, but the listed ones are mandatory if you want network functionality and remote connection.

Here are the details for the below listed downloads:

Server images 32/64 bits

username: notroot
passwd: 123qweASD!

username: root
passwd: firstdigest
HDD: 8GB, ext4, 1 partition, thin provision
RAM: 256 CPU Core: 1

Services enabled:
SSHd
DHCP client

Downloads

Ubuntu 12.04 Server (i386) OVF

Ubuntu 12.04 Server (x86_64) OVF

If you encounter problems with these images please let me know here in Comments or on Sourceforge Project Discussions page.

In the upcoming days I will add here more images from different distros.