More than 20 years as a VMware customer, I’m moving to KVM now. Bye.
Yes, I mean VMware 1.0 (released in 1999) in the subject line, not VMware Server or so. That’s the first version of VMware I ever purchased, I remember it was a Linux version back then and I remember what a revelation it was (and how sluggish it was without hardware features supporting virtualization … and during the days when building the Linux kernel took hours). The price point was a bit steep for me as a student, but it seemed to be one of those technologies to define the coming decades. Given the capabilities of virtualization it’s been improvements ever since, but also some setbacks regarding VMware features (Replay Debugging being the one hardest to stomach, I’m still puzzled by this one). But in terms of customer support it’s been a downward spiral for the last decade or so. So no thanks for the latter.
Being a VMware Workstation Pro customer, I was about to open a support ticket when I was reminded that for a few years now it’s impossible to report even defects of the software. Being a software developer I prefer to know about defects in the software I produce, but I reckon simply not providing the means for feedback is a way to keep down the number of defect tickets. And sorry to say, but even if there’s a policy that I get reimbursed if something turns out a defect (which I am not aware of it means that 1. I have to shell out – e.g. per support incident – up front and 2. I’ll be at the mercy of some support person (i.e. a company staffer) to judge whether it’s a defect or not.
As for the defects I encountered with VMware Workstation 15.5.6 on Ubuntu 20.04, running a Windows 10 2004:
- Whenever I activate 3D acceleration I get the strangest artifacts. I am attaching a screenshot (I’ll blur a few details only). However, just being artifacts isn’t the worst part, if I open the start menu or similar, it flickers like crazy when hovering anywhere and it’s impossible to make out on which menu item my mouse pointer rests at any given point.
- This above issue, as annoying as it is, can be worked around by disabling 3D acceleration altogether for the VM in question. So everything seemed fine.
- I can no longer reliably use certain keyboard shortcuts outside of the VM (no matter whether the VM is in full screen or windowed mode). In particular the effect of Ctrl seems to vanish completely and so far I have only found a reboot a viable solution to get it back functioning.
Well, that second defect is a deal breaker. I need no virtualization if it means I am no longer able to work on the host and guest in parallel. Sure, there are many aspects of VMware Workstation Pro that are slicker than virt-manager (and the underlying packages), but the one functionality that lets me work on host and guest in parallel not functioning? Well, that’s a big deal. All those nice features VMware has pioneered are great, but defects like these combined with a support policy that could not be clearer in conveying indifference about defects really make it impossible to continue to use otherwise slick products.
Could it be caused by the custom xkb layout I am using? Surely. Could it be the use of Wayland as opposed to Xorg? Possibly. But I have no way of finding out and VMware (the company) is evidently not interested either, so as for virtualization on Linux I am migrating away from VMware. In the midterm this also means migrating away from VMware entirely, as 1. I don’t want to support a company any longer, which is treating long term customers this way and 2. I’m moving away from Windows as my host system anyway, so any virtualization solution has to be viable on Linux.
Farewell, it was nice while it lasted.