Monthly Archives: October 2012

VMWare ESXi 5.1.0 breaks PCI Passthrough (Update: fixed in ESXi510-201212001)

After I upgraded to VMWare ESXi 5.1.0, my server crashed with a purple screen of death as soon as I fired up a VM that was using a passed-through PCI device (1244:0e00, an AVM GmbH Fritz!Card PCI v2.0 ISDN (rev 01)).I have been running the original version of ESXi 5.0.0 for a year and everything worked fine. In fact, I have never ever seen such a purple screen of death.

VMware ESXi 5.1.0 [Releasebuild-799733 x86_64]
#PF Exception 14 in world 4077:vmx IP 0x418039cf095c addr 0xl4
cr0=0x80010031 cr2=0x14 cr3=0x15c0d6000 cr4=0x42768
Frame=0x41221fb5bc00 ip=0x418039cf095c err=0 rflags=0x10202
rax=0x0 rbx=0x10 rcx=0x417ff9f084d0
rdx=0x41000168e5b0 rbp=0x41221fb5bcd8 rsi=0x41000168ee90
rdi=0x417ff9f084d0 r8=0x0 r9=0x1
r10=0x3ffd81972a9 r11=0x0 r12=0x41221fb5bd58
r13=0x41000168e350 r14=0xB r15=0x0
Code start: 0x418039a00000 VMK uptime: 0:00:06:21.499
0x41221fb5bcd8:[0x418039cf095c]PCI_GetExtCapIdx@vmkernel#nover+0x2b stack: 0x41221fb5bd38
0x41221fb5bd48:[0x418039abadd2]VMKPCIPassthru_GetPCIInfo@vmkernel#nover+0x335 stack: 0x29000030e001
0x41221fb5beb8:[0x418B39ea2c51]UW64VMKSyscallUnpackPCIPassthruGetPCIInfo@<None>#<None>+0x28 stack:
0x41221fb5bef8:[0x4l8039e79791]User_LinuxSyscallHandler@<None>#<None>+0x17c stack: 0x418039a4cc70
0x41221fb5bf18:[0x4l8039aa82be]User_LinuxSyscallHandler@vmkernel#nover+0x19 stack: 0x3ffd8197490
0x41221fb5bf28:[0x418039b10064]gate_entry@vmkernel#nover+0x63 stack: 0x10b
base fs=0x0 gs=0x418040c00000 Kgs=0x0
Coredump to disk. Slot 1 of 1.
Finalized dump header (9/9) DiskDunp: Successful.
Debugger waiting(world 4077) -- no port for remote debugger. "Escape" For local debugger.

Turns out that is a bug in ESXi. Luckily, downgrading an ESXi is simple enough: just hit Shift-R at the boot prompt and tell it to revert to the previous version.

Update: Patch ESXi510-201212401-BG in version ESXi510-201212001 (build 914609), released on December 20th, fixes the PCI passthrough issue (PR924167) according to KB2039030.

Fixing Microsoft Office 2011 SP2 Volume licensing

UPDATE 2012-11-15: The 14.2.5 installer no longer has this weird behavior (it does not include removables.txt files at all, however the postinstall script would still process them if they were there). Since it requires 14.2.3 as a prerequisite, you’ll still need to apply the fix mentioned below to 14.2.3 when chaining updates.

UPDATE 2012-11-30: I just obtained a copy of the 14.2.3 installer ISO from Microsoft VLSC. Copies of Office installed from it (or probably any 14.2.0+ installer ISO) do not exhibit the behavior explained here. The newer installer ships with flat-file Main.nib files that do not get removed by the removables.txt script.

UPDATE 2013-03-13: The 14.3.2 updater again contains a removables.txt which breaks Microsoft Office Setup If you didn’t replace your installer ISO with a newer version, you will again need to apply the fix mentioned below when installing this update.

When you run Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook 2011, it checks /Library/Preferences/ . If that file is not valid (such as after doing a fresh install of Microsoft Office 2011), it launches /Applications/Microsoft Office 2011/Office/Microsoft Office Setup Microsoft Office Setup Assistant checks whether the DVD from which you installed is a volume licensed copy; if it is, it silently populates that plist and quits (allowing the app you initially started to start up); if it is not, it prompts you for a product key and activation.

If you install from the DVD, launch one of the Office apps to activate the license, quit it and then install all the available updates from Microsoft, everything is fine.

If you update to version 14.2.0, 14.2.1, 14.2.2, 14.2.3, 14.2.4 (or possibly future versions) right after installing from the DVD however, Microsoft Office Setup gets corrupted. This is due to ./Office 2011 14.2.X Update.mpkg/Contents/Packages/Office2011_all_core_14.2.X.combo.pkg/Contents/Resources/removables.txt, which gets run by ./Office 2011 14.2.X Update.mpkg/Contents/Packages/Office2011_all_core_14.2.X.combo.pkg/Contents/Resources/postflight. It deletes the contents of /Applications/Microsoft Office 2011/Office/Microsoft Office Setup (which is a bundle-style NIB), however (unlike probably everything else listed in removables.txt) the update does not contain updated versions of them.

If you’re running an individually-licensed copy of Office 2011, that is no big deal: the Office apps themselves are able to prompt for a license key and activation.

If you’re running a volume licensed copy of Office 2011, you’re in trouble: You now get prompted for a product key by every Office app, which you obviously don’t have.

To fix this situation, you have two options:

1. Copying /Library/Preferences/ from a working install. You can do this using your favorite software depolyment tool, such as Munki. Please note that importing it as a Managed Preference (MCX) into Workgroup Manager (and probably Profile Manager) does not help. The file needs to be physically present on the client machine.

2. Move Microsoft Office Setup out of the way before updating. You can do this if your software deployment tool supports adding custom pre- and post-install scripts (Munki allows you to do that).

Here’s my pre-install script:

cd "/Applications/Microsoft Office 2011/Office"
mv "Microsoft Office Setup" ""
exit 0

And my post-install script:

cd "/Applications/Microsoft Office 2011/Office"
mv "" "Microsoft Office Setup"
exit 0

To find out whether you still need to do this on future updates (such as 14.2.5), open the installer package in a tool like Pacifist and check the following: a) Did they remove the  Microsoft Office Setup lines from removables.txt (go to the Resources tab and enter removables.txt into the search box to locate the file)? b) Does the update contain a new version of Microsoft Office Setup (go to the Package Contents tab and enter setup assistant into the search box to check for its existence)? If either one is true, Microsoft decided to fix the problem and you no longer need to use my pre-/post-install scripts.