Playing Russian Roulette with VMware Workstation

I store all my virtual machines on a small Western Digital Passport, which moves with me between the workplace and home. Recently, I noticed myself repeatedly acknowledging a dialog that I really didn’t understand. It’s quite scary because the verbiage in the dialog leads me to believe if I pick the wrong answer, Something Very Bad™ will happen.

With some clever switching out of .vmx files and some trial and error, I discovered what changes with each choice:

I moved it

Specifying "”I moved it”, will inform VMware that the virtual machine is still unique and was simply moved from what it called home. VMware will fire up the virtual machine and generate a new uuid.location identifier, like informing the post office of your new mailing address. You can read more about the format of the identifier on VMware’s support site.

I copied it

Specifying “I copied it”, will inform VMware that the virtual machine is a clone of a previous virtual machine. VMware will fire up, generate a new uuid.location just like above, but also generate new uuid.bios and ethernet0.generatedAddress values.

The uuid.bios appears to just be yet another unique identifier for identification, more of which you can also read on VMware’s support site. The ethernet0.generatedAddress value, however, is your Ethernet device’s MAC address. Had this not been changed and you started both your original and cloned virtual machines on the same network segment, you would likely start having major, machine-localized, network issues.

Conclusion

For those of you that move virtual machines around on a removable drive, like me, answer “I moved it” when asked. There’s no reason you need to keep individualizing your virtual machines at every invocation.

I learn something new every day.