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VMWare Server 2.0.2 Host OS is Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard Guest OS is Windows XP

I am using VMWare VMNet8, the NAT network. The VM guests can't see out to the network around the VM host.

Packet sniffing in the VM host shows that:

  • SYNs are sent to Internet hosts
  • SYN/ACKs are received from them
  • no ACK is sent back to the host
  • eventually the target Internet host times out the incomplete connection and issues RST.

Packet sniffing in the VM guest however shows only that:

  • SYNs are sent to Internet hosts
  • No SYN/ACKs are received
  • No RSTs are received either

so I get connection timeouts.

VMNet8 (and VMNet1) are configured in a completely standard way.

Following a suggestion elsewhere I replaced vmnat.exe in the VM Host with the version from VM Player. No change.

I have another server running an earlier version of VMWare Server, 1.0.6 where exactly the same setup works perfectly. The configuations are identical apart from the NAT subnet numbers. Until I did the packet sniffing I was putting this down to an undiscovered configuration difference or an undiscovered firewall setting in the host but the sniffing makes it clear it's a lower level problem with that, possibly still in VMWare's NAT.

Is this a known problem? With a workaround? Or am I on the wrong track and should be looking elsewhere?

Note: for reasons external to this problem I need to use NAT, not bridging.

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It's a little difficult to prove that nobody knows whether or not this is a bug, but I did a quick search of the VMWare forums for you and found the following:

https://communities.vmware.com/message/1854012#1854012

I can see the SYN packet from the VM go over the vmnet8 adapter. This SYN is then sent over my phisical network adapter. I also receive the ACK,SYN back from the external host over the physical network adapter. I do NOT see the ACK,SYN go back over the vmnet8 to the VM.

https://communities.vmware.com/message/1672902#1672902

I see the second SYN sent from the HOST OS to the GUEST to initiate a new connection, and it get the appropriate SYN/ACK followed by an ACK, but the client never sees any of this from its end.

https://communities.vmware.com/message/2030172#2030172

I can ping any website and I get a response not problem. Howerver if I try and view the website with IE it comes back as can not be found. I've tried changing the DNS servers used by the VM's and it doesnt help.

Not sure if these are all a common misconfiguration or a bug. There's plenty of reports and network captures of goofy things happening with VMWare Server 2 and NAT.

I suppose you could try submitting a bug report...

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    There are plenty of reports of an issue with NAT on VMware Server 2.x, but the fact remains that VMware abandoned the product. It is EOL. So if it's a bug, it won't be fixed. I was a victim of this as well... But I moved on. – ewwhite Dec 19 '13 at 16:01
  • @r.tanner.f Many thanks for some actual information. – Marquis of Lorne Dec 23 '13 at 23:49
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Well... Considering VMware Server 2.02 has been end-of-life since 2011, I don't know that there's any recourse if this is a bug. It's time to move away from this software. Virtualbox is a common alternative, or you could potentially go back to the even older VMware Server 1.x since it does what you want.

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  • Well that's the question. Is it a bug? Or is there some mitigation? – Marquis of Lorne Dec 19 '13 at 8:41
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    Nobody knows. Does it matter if it's a bug? It's not supported by VMware in any way now, so there's no recourse. The VMware Server forums are still archived. See if anyone there has a similar issue. – ewwhite Dec 19 '13 at 8:54
  • The purpose of asking here is to discover whether anybody knows, and whether there is a workaround. Do you have some evidence that nobody does? Not an answer. -1 – Marquis of Lorne Dec 19 '13 at 9:28

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