Yes, I know running a virtual machine inside of a virtual machine is a bad idea. Yes, I know it will be very slow. However, our production system required VMs in VMWare server and I do not want to setup a real server for each of our developers for testing. I would like to be able to setup all of the VMWare servers (that mimic our production environment) on one ESXi server.

I have found as much info as I can about this topic and I have tried what was suggested here and here. I have not been able to get any of these suggestions to work, I still get the VM cannot run inside of a VM error. If there are any other suggestions that anybody else have that would be great thanks.

  • Are you sure you're using the right versions of ESXi and VMWare Server to support this scenario, as well as enabling hardware virtualization? Some versions support it, some versions specifically do not, so version is very important.
    – Jaxidian
    Mar 29 '10 at 1:36

If it is an option, I would suggest that you convert your VMWare Server images into ESXi images and allow the devs to test them that way.


Could you not just run a single instance of vmware server and control who can see what vm's (ie create a pool of virtual machines for each developer) via access permissions?

Unless they are developing things to run on the vmware server host and interact with the vmware server system this should provide a decent approximation of each dev having his own vmware server.

Obviously if you need to stop Vmware server they will all go down but that should be a rare case.

I realise this was not the answer you were hoping for, but this should have the same affect assuming you're products are going to run inside the vm's.

Another option (which I strongly disrecommend for obvious reasons) to get vmware server to run inside a vm would be to swap esxi for a stripped down version of linux and a headless virtualbox install. Being a different product it may trick it into thinking its running on real hardware.

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