vt-x problems with MSI ClickBios II and VMWare Workstation
Having decided to have a play with Cisco’s VIRL solution, I’d intended to set it up on an old Laptop that I had laying around, but the requirement for a minimum of 4 CPU Cores, vt-x support (for Hardware assisted Virtualisation) and no less than FIVE Network Interfaces, I decided that I’d be better off using VMWare Workstation instead. VIRL doesn’t run under VirtualBox so VMware it is.. One license purchase later, and I’m merrily installing it on my Core i7 3820 machine, with plenty of RAM, Disk space, under 64-bit Windows 8.1, no problem! or so I thought!
I vaguely remember having issues with VirtualBox and the hosting of 64-bit Guest OS’es before, but since my need at the time wasn’t too specific, I didn’t really spend the time trying to resolve it, but I was surprised to find once installed, that VMWare Workstation 11 was nagging me that a 64-bit guest OS was not supported on my machine. I’d checked the pre-requisites quite carefully.
Of course I Googled, quite extensively, and didn’t find much that described my exact issue. and yes, I checked in my BIOS that the Hardware Virtualisation settings were enabled (they were!); I was definitely running a 64-bit OS, so why would it not work. My CPU, an i7 3820 definitely supported the Virtualisation extensions, but the Intel Processor Identification Utility stubbornly disagreed! My rig is a 2-3 year old custom build from Mesh Computers, based on an MSI X79A-GD45 main board. There should have been no issue with Virtualisation, and there was certainly no issue with running 64-bit Windows on it!
After much research, I stumbled on an article from VMWare dated December 2008 that suggested that VT-X was often unavailable to normal software if “trusted execution” was enabled. That sent me off in to the ClickBIOS once more as I recalled seeing a setting for an “Execute Disabled Bit” which was ON, so I decided to try turning it off and see what happened. I’ve attached the in-windows screenshot of the BIOS simply because it’s easiest to capture, but the setting was found in the same place at boot time.
It was tucked away under Overclocking Settings, and CPU Features, just before the Intel Virtualisation Tech and VT-D Tech options. Sure enough, disabling this caused VMWare to be quite happy with a 64-bit guest OS, and the Intel CPUID tool also now claimed that I was capable of Virtualisation.
PROBLEM #1 Solved!
Next step will be downloading and installing VIRL itself within a Virtual Machine. That’s a story for another day!