VMs freezing intermittently

Discussions related to using VirtualBox on Linux hosts.

VMs freezing intermittently

Postby thuerrschmidt » 7. Nov 2008, 23:29

After upgrading my Core 2 Duo machine (a MacBook 4,1, to be specific) from Ubuntu 8.04 (amd64) to Ubuntu 8.10 with VirtualBox 2.04 my Windows XP virtual machine, which ran just fine until then, has become virtually (no pun intended) unusable due to a strange phenomenon: Every few seconds the VM will freeze for about just as many seconds.

I can move the mouse pointer while the VM is in its frozen state, but otherwise everything comes to a standstill. No input is possible, and the display isn't being updated so that things like animated cursors, the analog clock in Date and Time properties or Task Manager's CPU meter won't move.

After the VM unfreezes, it looks like it's trying to make good for the lost seconds by running faster for a few moments. Animated cursors, the analog clock etc. will run noticeably faster during this re-sync period, which lasts for about a couple of seconds. A few seconds after that, the VM will freeze again. And so on and so forth.

This behavior becomes the more pronouned the longer the VM has been running. First there are only the slightest of delays, but within half an hour or so it becomes impossible to do anything inside the VM. Pausing and resuming, saving and restoring, or rebooting the VM, quitting and restarting VirtualBox or restaring the VirtualBox daemon make no difference at all. Only rebooting the host machine helps for a short while.

I tried everything I could think of: I created a new Windows XP VM, based on the existing disk image, same thing. I created a new disk image and restored the existing Windows XP setup to it, same thing. I set up a separate Windows XP VM on a new disk image, same thing. I set up a third VM, this time with Ubuntu as guest OS, same thing. I even did a fresh install of Ubuntu x64 on the host machine, this time using VirtualBox OSE rather than the proprietary version, same thing.

However, when I copied my complete ~/.VirtualBox directory to my old Pentium IV machine with Ubuntu 8.10 (i386) and started the affected VM here, the problem did not appear.

Any ideas? Anybody experiencing similar difficulties? Any help would be much appreciated.
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Postby Sasquatch » 9. Nov 2008, 16:48

What happens with the Linux Guest if you disable ACPI? Does that fix the freezes? There are a few topics about this behaviour and they have various suggestions. You might want to check the Forum Posting Guide for the best way to find information here on the forums. You don't have to read the whole guide, it should be somewhere at the bottom.
Read the Forum Posting Guide before opening a topic.
VirtualBox FAQ: Check this before asking questions.
Online User Manual: A must read if you want to know what we're talking about.
Howto: Install Linux Guest Additions
Howto: Use Shared Folders on Linux Guest
See the Tutorials and FAQ section at the top of the Forum for more guides.
Try searching the forums first with Google and add the site filter for this forum.
E.g. install guest additions site:forums.virtualbox.org

Retired from this Forum since OSSO introduction.
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Postby thuerrschmidt » 11. Nov 2008, 02:55

Sasquatch, thanks for your feedback.

Running a Ubuntu guest with ACPI disabled seems to avoid the problem. However this is not a solution for my Windows XP host, which has been set up with ACPI enabled (as per VirtualBox's default settings for this guest OS) and won't boot without it. Also, it does not explain why everything worked fine in Hardy but does not in Intrepid.

Could you please point me to one of those other topics with possible solutions that you mention? Of course I researched the forums extensively before posting, but I couldn't find anything more than vaguely similar to my problem. This topic, for example, is about strange freezes too, but those seem to be related to mouse movements and they affect the host system too. This is different from my case.
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Postby Sasquatch » 11. Nov 2008, 23:25

You can use Google too to search on the forums. You just need to set a site filter for the results. To do that, use <search term> site:forums.virtualbox.org. I'm sorry I can't be of more help, I'm quite busy with school, and when I get home, I have just a few hours for the forum before I go to bed.
Read the Forum Posting Guide before opening a topic.
VirtualBox FAQ: Check this before asking questions.
Online User Manual: A must read if you want to know what we're talking about.
Howto: Install Linux Guest Additions
Howto: Use Shared Folders on Linux Guest
See the Tutorials and FAQ section at the top of the Forum for more guides.
Try searching the forums first with Google and add the site filter for this forum.
E.g. install guest additions site:forums.virtualbox.org

Retired from this Forum since OSSO introduction.
Sasquatch
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Posts: 17800
Joined: 17. Mar 2008, 13:41
Location: /dev/random
Primary OS: Debian other
VBox Version: PUEL
Guest OSses: Windows XP, Windows 7, Linux

Postby thuerrschmidt » 13. Nov 2008, 02:49

I dived into the forums once more and found this recent thread that describes a similar problem. It links to a variety of potential solutions that the author tried unsuccessfully.

These solutions don't work for me either. I booted with the nohz=off option, inserted force_async_tsc=1 into /etc/init.d/vboxdrv, yet nothing has changed and the freezes are still there. Also, according to the FAQ, both of these measures should't be necessary anymore.

To me this looks like a regression in recent versions of VirtualBox in that earlier issues with tickless kernels reappear under certain (rare, it seems, or there would be more on this in the forums) circumstances. Somebody should definitely look into this. Should I file a bug report? If yes, what information should go into it?
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Postby Ringo » 15. Nov 2008, 18:13

Have you tried reinstalling VB?

I kind got the same problem, an in my case, I discovered that VB has this effect if any other windows are open.

For example, if I have a VM running, and I open up System Monitor tool, the VM starts freezing up. As soon as I close System Monitor, all goes back to normal. Same thing happens if I open up Firefox.

This is on Ubuntu amd64, running VB 2.0.4 amd64
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Postby thuerrschmidt » 15. Nov 2008, 21:51

Ringo, interesting problem, but this too is a bit different from what I am experiencing. For me it makes no difference at all how many other applications are running. How bad the freezes get seems to depend on just one factor, that is the total time any guest machines have been running since last booting the host.

And yes, I have tried reinstalling VirtualBox. I even reinstalled the whole operating system, as described in my original post. Most recently I switched back from VirtualBox OSE to the proprietary version, once more to no avail.

I am currently experimenting with running my virtual Windows XP environment on my old Pentium machine, where VirtualBox 2.0.4 doesn't show any problems at all, and accessing it remotely via RDP. The works surprisingly well and could serve as a temporary workaround until such fundamental problems with VirtualBox as you and I are experiencing are fixed.
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Postby vim_lx » 15. Nov 2008, 23:54

he thuerrschmidt,

i discovered the same behavior on my system - ubnutu 8.10 and ubuntu 8.04. I also got a macbook 4.1. No problems with VB and mac os x. Well that's not the question. By the way - did your system shows the right memory size ? Mine has 4 GB - only 3 got discovered. I'm using a 32-bit kernel, but there is no special pae-kernel. If you got some hints - email me at vadim dot bulst at gmail dot com
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Postby thuerrschmidt » 16. Nov 2008, 03:42

vim_lx, thanks for your observations. Maybe it's time one of the developers takes a closer look. We really do seem to have a problem here. But we'll need more reports because so far the picture is rather fuzzy: Lots of similar but not quite identical problems.

AFAIK being able to address 4+ GB of RAM is one of the main points of running a 64 bit OS. I upgraded my MacBook to twice the original amount of RAM, and Ubuntu correctly shows a total of 3.8 GB.

I don't currently run Mac OS X, so I can't say anything about that. What I can say is that I never had any of my current problems with Ubuntu 8.04 in combination with VirtualBox up to version 2.0.x. They started right after upgrading to 8.10.
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Same problem here

Postby Beeber » 26. Nov 2008, 00:16

I seem to be having the same problem with virtualBox on Ubuntu 8.10 (intrepid) The virtualbox is running a fresh install of XP and I get system pauses quite often, where the system then tries to catch up (like thuerrschmidt describes) I've only just started using virtualBox so I can't give any report as to if it was working in gutsy or not... but I am on the same spec machine as thuerrschmidt (macbook core 2 duo)... any ideas? I read a different post which said the dhcp client of the virtual machine could be causing the issues, but switched to static ip and still get the same. it seems to be the only thing keeping me from a fantastically quick xp virtual machine... if only it wasn't for the annoying pauses. please help!
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Postby thuerrschmidt » 26. Nov 2008, 12:46

It could be that the problem is specific to Ubuntu 8.10 on MacBooks, which usually run under Mac OS of course. This would explain why are there relatively few reports about this issue that IMO is pretty serious after all.

For me the freezes are still there even after the recent update to VirtualBox 2.0.6. Since disabling ACPI seemed to solve the problem for the Linux VM that I had set up for testing purposes, I did the same for my Windows XP VM. Windows being what it is (expletive deleted) it wouldn't get beyond a bluescreen with a 0x0000007b stop message after that, so I had to install everything, OS plus applications, from scratch That cost me the better part of a day, but now I've got a usable Windows VM again. Everything works fine and just as fast and smoothly as before the trouble began.

The only exception is that SATA doesn't seem to work anymore. As soon as I attach any hard disk image (the main one with the OS on it or any secondary image) to the virtual SATA interface the Windows guest will hang while booting. Intel's current SATA drivers are installed of course, and there were no SATA-related problems in my old Windows guest machine. Well, that's not a big deal, I simply use IDE for the time being.

Beeber, maybe you can try what I did: Set up another XP guest, this time with ACPI disabled. If that makes the freezes disappear, then I guess it's time for a bug report.
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Postby TheGrudge » 26. Nov 2008, 17:57

I can confirm this, too. Running virtualbox 2.0.4 with Archlinux on a Macbook Pro4.
Disabling ACPI works for my UNIX and Linux VMs, but not for Windows, since it was installed with ACPI enabled and will crash when it is disabled now.
I also can confirm these freezes (about 5 seconds) each 20 seconds...
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Postby TheGrudge » 26. Nov 2008, 18:00

Oh forgot to say that I installed the binary version of virtualbox, then the OSE version, and now even compiled it myself. Still it freezes...
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Postby TheGrudge » 26. Nov 2008, 19:38

I fixed it by disabling ACPI, inserting the WinXP CD and doing a "repair installation". Sometimes it boots fast, sometimes slow, but at least the freezes are gone if Windows is up.
Right now I'm only saving the machine state, so Windows has not to be shutdown and I don't have to wait too long when booting it again :-)

But still this is not satisfying, UNIX / Linux will not shutdown properly without ACPI and Windows boots slower.
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Postby TheGrudge » 26. Nov 2008, 20:24

One more note on this: The Windows VM runs better when I do a shutdown, not a reboot (for example when installing drivers).
Reboot will most of the time cause Windows to start very slow, while shutting down and restarting the machine works "perfect".
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