Installing VMWare Player on Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric x86 (32 bit)

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I use a netbook for most of my day to day personal computing, an HP mini 311. While i think this netbook is the best ever, it does have one flaw. It comes with the ION chip, but the caveat is the CPU uses a 32 bit instruction set. This means obviously that i am restricted to 32 bit operating system installs. In the past this hasn’t really been much of an issue (i have owned this netbook for quite some time now). But recently 32 bit CPU’s are a bit of a rarity, and support for 32 bit appears to be waning, if not at least with respect to vmware.

I just finished setting a nice new ESXi 5.0.0 U1 server and wanted to start playing around with it. This is when things got complicated. VMWare offers an i386 installer for Player 4.0.2 but contrary to what you’d think, this installer is not supported on a 32 bit CPU. this installer is available for those who install i386 arch onto a 64 bit CPU. If you, like me, don’t have a 64 bit CPU then you have to live with 3.1.5 (VMware-Player-3.1.5-491717.i386.bundle at the time of posting, sorry i can’t find a live link). This installs as you would expect, by running sudo sh VMware-Player-3.1.5-491717.i386.bundle and following the GUI installer. You may remember from earlier vmware installs that you need to compile kernel modules in order for things to work “smooth” and this install is no different. Where this install differs is when you are using a 3.x linux kernel, such as the one that comes with Oneiric. For whatever reason, vmware assumes that nobody upgrades their linux kernel regularly and left us to patch the module sources ourselves. Fortunately, someone has done the heavy work for everyone already (my source for this info is here: http://ved-antani.com/2011/10/vmplayer-not-compiling-for-latest-linux-kernel/ ) so that you can quickly build the modules manually.

the instructions at the original source are not quite perfect, so here is what i did to compile my modules.
# you need to do this stuff as root
sudo su

# make a directory to build the modules and cd to it
mkdir /tmp/vmware-build
cd /tmp/vmware-build

# extra the module sources to our build directory
find /usr/lib/vmware/modules/source -name "*.tar" -exec tar xf '{}' \;

# get the patch archive and extract it
wget http://weltall.heliohost.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/vmware2.6.39patchv3.tar.bz2
tar -xf vmware2.6.39patchv3.tar.bz2

# update the patch for 3.1.5 (it is designed for 3.1.4)
sed -i -e 's/plreqver=3\.1\.4/plreqver=3.1.5/' patch-modules_2.6.39.sh

# patch the source and start the build
./patch-modules_2.6.39.sh

# after the build is finished the modules will be installed

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