VMWare and Upgrading to Fedora Core 6

I upgraded my desktop machine at work from Fedora Core 5 to Fedora Core 6, and since I run the free VMWare Player (the free VMWare Server is also a fine product), I knew I’d have to get it working after the upgrade. It could have been as simple as running ‘vmware-config.pl’, but it wasn’t.

A known issue with Fedora 6 is that on many single processor systems, the
installer loads an i586 kernel instead of an i686 kernel. The workaround for
this, at install boot-time, is to type “linux i686” — except that it only
works for fresh installs — it doesn’t work for upgrades. An i586 kernel was
installed even though I wanted an i686 kernel, and it created problems when I
went to configure VMWare. vmware-config.pl compiles a kernel module against
kernel headers. I had installed the kernel-devel package to get the kernel
headers. It turns out that I had an i686 kernel-devel package, and it didn’t
mesh up well with the i586 kernel that I didn’t know I had.

Run the following command:
rpm -q --queryformat '%{ARCH} %{NAME}-%{VERSION}-%{RELEASE}\n' kernel kernel-devel

This is how I figured out that I had a mismatch. Here’s what I had:

i586 kernel-2.6.18-1.2869.fc6
i686 kernel-devel-2.6.18-1.2869.fc6

Both of those should read ‘i686’. Here are the commands to run (as the ‘root’ user) to resolve the issue:

  1. yum -y upgrade # to get the latest kernel, etc.
  2. Follow the instructions at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Bugs/FC6Common to switch to an i686 kernel.
    • yum -y install yum-utils
    • yumdownloader kernel.i686
    • rpm -ivh --replacefiles --replacepkgs kernel-2*.i686.rpm
  3. reboot
  4. yum -y install kernel-devel
  5. rpm -q --queryformat '%{ARCH} %{NAME}-%{VERSION}-%{RELEASE}\n' kernel kernel-devel # The architecture should be i686
  6. touch /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-1.2869.fc6-i686/include/linux/config.h
  7. vmware-config.pl


I can’t recommend upgrading to Fedora Core 6 from version 5. My screensaver (gnome-screensaver) wouldn’t unlock — it never even gave me the chance to enter a password. I tried switching to xscreensaver, but it wouldn’t accept my password. After several fruitless google searches for a resolution to either problem, I gave up and decided to install from scratch. Now my screensaver behaves correctly.

When I did a fresh install, it installed the xen kernel. VMware and Xen didn’t play well together for me — I got nearly 100% CPU utilization when I tried to load a guest. I installed the non-xen kernel, booted that kernel, and reconfigured vmware. Now VMware runs great. If I remember correctly, here are the commands I ran as root:

  1. yum -y install kernel
  2. reboot into a non-xen kernel
  3. touch /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-1.2869.fc6-i686/include/linux/config.h
  4. vmware-config.pl

KVM is the future of virtualization on Linux, from what I gather, so I’m not going to try Xen.