Virtual Machine Configurations

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ArcaOS is perfectly at home in a virtualized environment, and in fact, because ArcaOS has such a small memory footprint, works well in high density configurations where one hypervisor must run several guests. The key is in the proper configuration of each, however. These guides should help.

Configuration guides:

Oracle VM VirtualBox
VMware ESXi
VMware Workstation
Limitations due to lack of VMware Tools for OS/2


VMware ESXi

6.5 U2, 6.7 U2

VMware does not officially support ArcaOS under VMware, however, they do recognize IBM OS/2. This is a good starting point (see below), but needs considerable modification, as will be discussed. the major key to success is the proper configuration of the IDE devices, specifically, the virtual hard disk as master on IDE controller 0 and the virtual CD/DVD as master (or slave) on IDE controller 1. In addition, it should be noted that the default (or only) virtualized audio adapter (Ensoniq) under VMware is not compatible with any driver shipped with ArcaOS. At the time of this writing, we have no workaround for this problem. If the Uniaud driver is auto-selected during ArcaOS install, the option to not install any audio adapter should be manually selected to avoid error messages during startup.

VM configuration

The following assumes the use of the vSphere web interface. The concepts are similar when using the vSphere Client, however.

  1. Create new VM. Enter a name for the new VM and select Other for Guest OS family, and IBM OS/2 as the Guest OS version.

Select Guest OS family and version, and name new VM

  1. Set Memory to minimum 256MB (512MB is preferred; 1024MB is recommended) and Hard disk 1 size (additional disks may be added, but for this example, use a single, small drive). Do not select more CPUs or cores than the host server, as these are not supported in the VMware ESXi environment (which actually reflects the host’s installed CPU manufacturer and model in the guest). In general, it is best to wait until after the installation completes to add processors and/or cores. IMPORTANT: Delete SCSI controller 0, as this is unnecessary, and can complicate the install.

Set RAM and HDD; remove SCSI controller

  1. The USB 2.0 controller is essential for proper virtual mouse connectivity. Be sure to keep it (it is also possible to attach a USB device in the local system for use by the VM).
  2. Change the Adapter Type for Network Adapter 1 to E1000. This is essential, as ArcaOS does not ship with a driver for the antiquated default adapter.

Change NIC to E1000

  1. CRITICAL: Change the Controller location for CD/DVD Drive 1 to IDE Controller 1, Master. (Note that Hard disk 1 defaults to IDE Controller 0, Master; these must be on separate controllers for a successful installation.) Mount the ArcaOS installation ISO either from the local DVD drive or upload to the ESXi server’s datastore, as pictured here. Ensure this is connected, so it then becomes the first bootable device.

Change DVD attachment to IDE 1 Master

Click Next to review your settings, and Finish to save the new VM. It is now time to boot into the ArcaOS installer.

ArcaOS Installation

  1. Start the VM, and select the option to boot with default values, which are fine for this environment. Proceed to the Installation type page and select either a Predefined personality or a Custom installation. Here, we’ve selected the latter. Click Next to continue to the Target volume(s) page.

Installation type

  1. At the Target volume(s) page, the Disk Utility will run, and determine that there is no partition table on the disk. Click Fix Problems, and follow the prompts to reboot the VM. Use Ctrl-Alt-Ins to reboot when prompted. Restart the installation exactly as before, and return to this page.

Fix Problems

  1. Note the empty System Volume dropdown. Click Manage Volumes… to start the Installation Volume Manager to create a bootable volume.

Create volume

  1. For the purposes of this example, we will create a single bootable volume, assign drive letter C:, name it, and use all the available space in a primary partition. When done, close the Installation Volume Manager and save your changes.

Volume type Volume letter and name Volume size and partition Volume ready

  1. Leave all ancillary volumes set to Use system volume, and click Next to set the locale and timezone on the Location page. Note that because VMware ESXi currently lacks VMware Tools for OS/2, it may not be possible for the VM clock to be set by the host. Check Enable internet time synchronization here and configure for a local or internet time source after the installation completes. Click Next to proceed to the Software selection and Hardware pages.

Set location and timezone

  1. At the Hardware page, ensure that no extraneous hardware has been selected (e.g., SCSI or audio adapter – see note above concerning lack of compatible audio adapter). Click Next to proceed to the Confirmation page to review your settings. Click Next to begin the installation.


Leave the Reboot automatically checkbox set, and allow the installer to complete Phase 1, count down, and reboot into Phase 2. Allow Phase 2 to boot from the newly-formatted hard disk, and continue copying files. Again, leave the Reboot automatically checkbox set, and allow Phase 2 to complete and reboot into Phase 3.

Phase 3 presents the finished ArcaOS desktop. Once the process completes, access the Clock Synchronization object in the System Setup folder to configure time synchronization. Your ESXi server may be configured to function as an NTP server. In that case, you may choose to add its address or DNS name (if local DNS is available) to the configuration, and select it as the time source. Configure the video resolution and/or color depth from the Screen object in the System Setup folder. Note that the ArcaOS VM must be rebooted in order to apply the new resolution and/or color depth.

Your base ArcaOS installation is now complete. For next steps, see Post-install Tips & Hints.

Note that most configuration options available to bare metal installs are also available here, such as multiple hard disks, multi-volume layouts, static IP vs dynamic, and even multiple network adapters (if so configured for the VM). Avoid multiple CPUs, SCSI, and above all else, do not chain a virtual CD/DVD drive on the same IDE controller as a virtual hard disk.

VMware Workstation


  1. In VMWare Workstation, select File > New Virtual Machine.
  2. You will be prompted to select the type of configuration. Typical is recommended.
    • If you selected Custom, you will be prompted to select Virtual Machine Hardware Compatibility. Workstation 15.x is generally fine. If you require ESXi 6.7 compatibility, select Workstation 14.x. (In practice, most selections should work, although Workstation 11.x or higher is recommended.)
  3. On the Guest Operating System Installation page, select “I will install the operating system later.”
  4. When prompted to select a Guest Operating System, choose Other. (There are no options for ArcaOS or OS/2, so choose either Other or eComStation2.)
  5. On the next page, enter a name for the virtual machine, and either accept the default location (recommended) or select a different directory to store the VM files.
  6. If you selected Custom in step 2, the following applies:
    • You will be asked to confirm the number of virtual processors and cores. Configure this as you like, but you should limit the numbers of processors and cores to no more than those of the host system. In addition, more than 16 total cores is not recommended.
    • You will be prompted to set the VM memory amount. Set it to at least 512 MB (1 GB or more is recommended).
    • You will be asked what type of network to use. Select the type appropriate to your environment (select Use network address translation (NAT) if in doubt).
    • You will be asked to select the SCSI controller type. Leave the default BusLogic selected.
    • You will be asked to select the virtual disk type. IMPORTANT: You must select IDE (not SCSI or SATA).
    • When prompted to select a disk, choose Create a new virtual disk unless you are moving an existing virtual disk from another VM.
  7. On the Specify Disk Capacity page, choose the size of the virtual hard disk. If in doubt, simply accept the default (8 GB). You can choose to store the virtual disk as a single file, or split across multiple files; accept the default if unsure.
    • If you selected Custom in step 2, the Allocate all disk space now checkbox will be shown. It is recommended to leave this un-checked.
    • If you selected Custom in step 2, you will have the opportunity to set the name of the virtual disk (.vmdk) file. You can generally accept the default name.
  8. On the Confirmation page, select the Customize Hardware button.
      1. Select the Add button underneath the hardware list. Select USB Controller and then click Finish.
      2. Now make the following changes to the various hardware devices:
        • Memory: Increase the memory to at least 512 MB (1 GB or more is recommended) if you have not already done so.
        • New CD/DVD (IDE): Check the Connect at power on check box. Select Use ISO image file and select the ArcaOS DVD ISO image.
          • Select Advanced and verify that IDE is selected, and that the drop-down underneath has controller IDE 1:0 selected.
        • Network Adapter: Make sure Connect at power on is checked. Then select the networking type appropriate for your environment (if unsure, select NAT).
        • USB Controller: Change the USB compatibility setting to USB 2.0.
      3. Select Close.
  9. Select Finish to create the virtual machine.
  10. Make sure the new virtual machine tab in VMWare Workstation is selected. Do not start the virtual machine yet.
    1. Select Edit virtual machine settings (or go to the VM menu and select Settings).
    2. Select the Options tab. Under General, make a note of the Working directory path.
    3. Close the Settings window.
  11. Close VMWare Workstation completely.
    1. Next, go into the virtual machine’s working directory (from the previous step) and locate the file <name>.vmx (where <name> is the name of the VM).
    2. Open the file with a text editor and add the following line:
    3. Make sure the file contains no other lines starting with “ethernet0.virtualDev=”.
    4. Save and close the file.

Start VMWare Workstation. Now you can start the new VM and proceed with the installation of ArcaOS.

Limitations due to lack of VMware Tools for OS/2

Due to the current lack of VMware Tools for OS/2, the following issues may be encountered in either VMware environment:

  • Limited range of video resolutions (specifically, standard VESA modes only).
  • No mouse pointer integration.
  • No file drag’n’drop.
  • The mouse may behave erratically from time to time, regardless of which driver has been installed. It may move to the edge of the VM screen and stick in that position. Switching focus out of the VM (Ctrl+Alt) and back typically regains control.
  • In the ESXi web GUI, no mouse control is possible. Use the vSphere Client (available through ESXi 6.5) or Workstation GUI, instead.

This entry last updated: by Lewis Rosenthal