VMWare, BSODs, and video drivers

I had a customer who upgraded to an SSD in his MacBook Pro, and had heard about VMware Fusion. Not by name, but by feature, from a friend. “He can run his Windows right along side his Mac.” He had a Boot Camp installation and VMware Fusion helpfully can import that. However, after VMware Tools were installed, the VM would BSOD on boot with a SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION, error code 0x0000003b. Oh joy.

Much testing later revealed that it seemed to be the VMware SVGA driver that was causing these issues, which made little sense as its one of the most tested parts of the VMware tools, being so critical. It turns out the client had a specific external video device that clearly VMware never tested with. In this case it was the Tritton SEE2 Xtreme USB to DVI adapter unit. While the unit wasn’t attached and hadn’t been used in ages, the drivers were still installed, and when these two drivers were initialized, we’d see that BSOD exception.

The solution was clearly to find and remove the driver for that video unit. Once that was done everything was aces. The moral is search very closely in the driver set of your guest OS if you’re having errors like this. I let VMware support know the details of this particular driver so they can test against it, and presumably devices like it.

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