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Resolving Linux boot issues after P2V with VMware Converter

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Recently I had to deal with migrating SuSE Enterprise Linux servers from the old environment to the Vblock. Customer had a number of physical servers and XEN instances that needed to be moved to the new vSphere environment.

While VMware Converter 5 does a good job live-cloning the existing Linux servers, sometimes you have to use the Cold Clone boot CD if the physical server uses software RAID (and then boot VM from the broken mirror side), or sometimes the resulting VM does not boot because of issues with bootloader.

For the most migrations I’ve used VMware Converter 5.0. One thing you need to do right away is to modify the config for VMware Converter to enable the root login and keep the failed helper VM. Enable useSourcePasswordInHelperVm flag and disable powerOffHelperVm. See http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1008209 for details.

Now you should have the result of your failed conversion preserved, and should be able boot the VM to check why the failure have occurred.


There are a few reasons why the conversion can fail at 99% while reconfiguring the OS. It could be because the disk path had changed, kernel modules are missing, or grub is not finding stuff.

Originally my XEN conversions were failing at 99% with FAILED: An error occurred during the conversion: ‘GrubInstaller::InstallGrub: Failed to read GRUB configuration from /mnt/p2v-src-root/boot/grub/menu.lst’. This problem is related to the fact that XEN instances do not have /boot/grub/menu.lst in place.

To fix this and or any other bootloader issues, grab your favorite Linux rescue disk and boot the VM from it. Since I was converting SLES, I’ve used SLES 10 SP2 boot CD, and booted into “Rescue System”. Alternatively, you can attach the converted vmdk to an existing Linux VM.

Once booted into the rescue, check the present disks with “fdisk -l“. Most likely, your devices are now showing up as /dev/sdaX, since the disk controller was changed to VMware LSI Logic Parallel.


Mount your new /dev/sda2 partition as /mnt, add /dev, and chroot into it.

# mount /dev/sda2 /mnt
# mount –bind /dev /mnt/dev
# cd /mnt
# chroot .

Once chrooted into your old environment, fix the /etc/fstab to use /dev/sdaX for your boot and swap, instead of whatever path you have there (XEN instances were booting from /dev/xvda2).

Next step is to make sure that the required kernel modules for VMware virtual machine support are loaded from the ramdisk. If piix and mptspi modules are missing, you will get “Waiting on /dev/sda2 device to appear…” message at boot.

On SLES, the location to define the ramdisk kernel modules is in /etc/sysconfig/kernel file.

The following modules should be present (remove unused stuff like “xenblk”):
INITRD_MODULES=”piix mptspi processor thermal fan jbd ext3 edd”

Once the INITRD_MODULES line is fixed, run “mkinitrd” to re-create the ramdisk.

# mkinitrd

In case the bootloader’s /boot/grub/menu.lst file is missing, you can specify the kernel and initrd parameters at boot time (use TAB to complete the filenames for your smp kernel).

grub> kernel /boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/sda2
grub> initrd /boot/initrd-
grub> boot

Alternatively, use the menu.lst file below.

###YaST update: removed default
default 0
timeout 8
##YaST – generic_mbr
gfxmenu (hd0,1)/boot/message
##YaST – activate

###Don’t change this comment – YaST2 identifier: Original name: linux###
title SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2
kernel (hd0,1)/boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/sda2 repair=1 resume=/dev/sda1 splash=silent showopts vga=0x314
initrd (hd0,1)/boot/initrd-

###Don’t change this comment – YaST2 identifier: Original name: failsafe###
title Failsafe — SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2
kernel (hd0,1)/boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/sda2 showopts ide=nodma apm=off acpi=off noresume edd=off 3 vga=normal
initrd (hd0,1)/boot/initrd-

VM should be able to boot now.

Check 30-net_persistent_names.rules file in /etc/udev/rules.d directory for any network adapter changes that might need to be done. It is likely that udev detected the network hardware change and added eth1 to this file. Remove duplicate entries, leaving only the last one and change eth1 to eth0.

Don’t forget to install VMware Tools once the VM is up and running.

Written by vmsysadmin

February 10, 2012 at 6:06 am

Posted in vSphere

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