We have VMware Server 2 running under a 32 bit OS (Ubuntu Hardy) installed by our provider. PAE is enabled, so we could exceed the 32 bit 4G limit.

However, when we let install 4G more RAM to a total of 8G, the system crashes very soon (about 30 seconds after a virtual machine starts). It's running fine with 4G RAM. I know, I know, this whole setup is stupid. But...

Does someone have an idea why this happens? Our provider tells us that the RAM is fine. And sorry, we don't have information from the kernel message buffer. So let's make wild guesses...

  • PAE is an ugly hack; every level of the system has to specifically support it or else something crashes. Sounds like something doesn't fully support PAE or something has a bug. I know that's really vague, but without any error messages it's going to be very hard to help.
    – Chris S
    Jun 26 '10 at 17:27

in your wiki link to PAE: "regular application ... is limited to 4 gigabytes of virtual address space". in other words, PAE cannot give your app more than 4G. but since it allows kernel to use up to 64G, apps in total can go over the 4G limit. about the crash: if vmware server tries to allocate more than 4G to a single vm, it would go over the limit and do something funky. theoretically kernel should just deny allocating so much, but when has the theory ever worked ...

  • No, we don't have processes needing more than 2G RAM.
    – nalply
    Dec 17 '09 at 13:46
  • Just to be clear, a Virtual Machine would be a process using more than 4G of ram if you gave a single VM >4G.
    – Kyle Smith
    Jun 26 '10 at 17:58
  • No, we don't have processes needing more than 2G RAM.
    – nalply
    Sep 15 '10 at 11:38

It has been a long time ago.

We just gave up the whole server and migrated everything to a 64bit system. It has been stupid from our provider to start with a 32bit system in the first place.

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