Failed Sandbox Peer Launches (or Something)

When it comes to my computers, I’m a pretty paranoid guy. I’ve suffered through enough system instability and crashes due to misbehaving software that I don’t just implicitly trust software package X right out of the box. But sometimes I have to use some certain software package to get some work done. How do you run software on your machine without letting it run on your machine?

The answer? I have a Windows XP sandbox environment running on VMWare. If I don’t trust a certain piece of software, say for example a crazy VPN client that installs drivers into my network stack, I’ll install it onto my sandbox VM.

This morning, I was playing in my sandbox, and VMWare crashed. It does that occaisionally, and I can accept that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not happy when things crash, but when a program is incanting utter black magic in order to run Linux on Windows, I cut it a little slack. I mean, ordinary programs like Word or Firefox or Notepad shouldn’t crash. But as I said: VMWare is just voodoo, and you just have to realize that voodoo doesn’t always do exactly what you expect.

So it crashed and sorta hung there without repainting, so I close the window, and then I tried to restart my VM. No good. It failed with a simple message box containing only the string VMDB_E_LAUNCH_PEER_FAILED. Amazingly, neither Google nor the VMWare Knowledge Base had anything to say about that error.

I was about to despair, when I decided to check my process list. Turns out, the VMWare machine process was still zombied in the background. I killed the process, and the machine started right back up.

This story isn’t really all that interesting. It’s more to get something into Google for the next hapless soul who wonders what the hell that error means.