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VMware Fusion, VM Power states, and you

Or, better living through manually editing what should damn well be a toggle box in a GUI

One of the things that I have to do at ${dayjob} is build distributable VMs. And my preferred way of doing this is by using the VMware OVF Tool to convert/sanitize the guest ‘machine’ configuration and produce a clean copy of whatever I build. Today I noticed that VMs which I’ve exported to OVF format and then reimported into VMware Fusion could no longer be soft-powered down; nothing but the virtual equivalent of slamming the power button or unplugging a machine.


But upon digging a little further into that description of default power states, I found the following:

Virtual machines created in other VMware products might default to hard power options.
These commands act on the virtual machine the way the power and reset buttons work
on a physical computer’s power supply.

Well. There’s the problem. But how do we fix it? The doc says that in VMware Fusion we can hold alt while clicking on the Virtual Machine menu option, but that’s just kicking the can down the road.

It turns out that Darren Woollard has already mostly solved this particular problem1. It looks like a few flags need to be added to the VMX file (don’t panic if you’ve never edited one of these things. It’s just a big long ini file with some goofy looking keys. Here’s the Party Line about editing a VMX file, straight from the horses mouth).

Here’s what needs to be added to the VMX file of imported generic OVAs for Soft Power Operations to work on your newly minted Virtual Machine instance:

powerType.powerOff = "soft"
powerType.powerOn = "soft"
powerType.suspend = "soft"
powerType.reset = "soft"

Save your VMX file, and if necessary restart your VMware product (Fusion, Workstation, Player, whatever). You should now see the safer Soft Power options instead of the big hammer of Force Shut Down, etc.

  1. I’d like this to work on import, without a user having to edit anything. I’m investigating using VMware Studio to cut new releases, but I’ve got no data behind that plan yet.