Enable VT-X on Dell laptop

By , 18/01/2010 14:54

I was playing around with VirtualBox on my Dell laptop and while I usually don’t bother enabling multiple CPU’s I decided to do it this time for some performance testing. What I thought to be a simple move of a slider in the VM settings turned out to be a quest to outwit Dell BIOS writers.

As it turns out, when I tried to start the VM with the new settings, I got a cryptic error code VERR_VMX_NO_VMX which on second thought isn’t very cryptic at all. Basically it is VirtualBox telling you that the Virtual Machine eXtensions are not available. Since my CPU supports Intel’s VT-x I was kind of surprised, especially since I always enable it in my VMs and they always work.

After some research I found out in the logfiles of the Virtual Machine that the VT-x was actually never used. The CPU reports the extensions as being available, but they are not enabled. Check for this line in the logfile:

00:00:02.058 HWACCM: No VT-x or AMD-V CPU extension found. Reason VERR_VMX_MSR_LOCKED_OR_DISABLED

Googling for ideas I found out that you should check your BIOS settings to see if it is actually enabled but upon opening the BIOS I could not find anything even remotely close to virtualization settings (on Dell laptops, you should find it under the Performance tab). After another quick search round it appears that it is not uncommon for Laptop and System manufacturers to actually hide this functionality and disable it by default.

During my quest for answers I came across a person asking for a way to deploy BIOS settings changes on hundreds of PC’s at the same time and apparently Dell has a handy CLI-utility just for this purpose called CCTK. Figuring it couldn’t hurt trying I downloaded and installed it and lo and behold, I could switch the virtualization setting on and off! After shutting down my PC and turning it back on after 10 seconds (recommended way in the many, many related topics) I could finally enjoy full hardware virtualization.

The short and the long of it

  • Download CCTK from here. At the time of writing, there was actually a newer version available through the Older versions link
  • Install it
  • cd "Program FilesDellCCTKX86" (or X86_64 if it applies to you)
  • C:Program FilesDellCCTKX86>cctk --virtualization
    virtualization=disable

    C:Program FilesDellCCTKX86>cctk --virtualization=enable
    virtualization=enable

Disclaimer: I do not take responsibility if this changes your system to a glorified brick sitting on a desk, do this at your own risk. Just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. I also don’t think Dell will provide much support if they find out what you were doing ;-)

PS: If you want a previously single core Windows XP installation to recognize the multiple processors, you can use HALu

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14 Responses to “Enable VT-X on Dell laptop”

  1. iTropics says:

    Thanks for sharing this, even though I don’t have Dell. I bumped into here coz I was googling for VERR_VMX_NO_VMX error…Cheers…

  2. Amir_KR says:

    Thanks for your input , i’ve expirenced the same on my DELL LATITUDE E6400 with VM .
    I’ve rolled back my changes on the VM-OS and it works

    thanks a lot

  3. Emma says:

    Thanks for setting me on the right path – I have a Dell D630 laptop with BIOS revision A12 – eventually found the Virtualization option for my machine in the “POST Behaviour” section of the BIOS settings. I can now use the latest version of ITunes (9.2.0.61) in VirtualBox without it spontaneously quitting on startup :-)

  4. Tyler says:

    thanks for the info mathy.

    you’re right – the newest version (1.1.0.77 4/19/2010) is only available via the “other versions” link.

    the docs are at http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/SOFTWARE/smcctk/1.1/ug/html/cctkugcd.htm#wp1213392 for those curious about what else CCTK can do.

    -tyler

  5. Richard says:

    Thanks for this Mathy.

    Have a Dell D530 and been battling for ages with SP 2010. Was facing sense of humour failure.

    All sorted now.

    Fantastic work.

  6. Pieter says:

    Thanks Mathy, great find! I am now able to use my spare Dell D630 to run VMs on ESXi 4.1. Will keep this in mind for the future.

  7. Michael says:

    You, sir, are a prince amongst men! As somoene who’s only just dipped his toe into virtualization i had no idea what this error meant, but you got me going!

    Thanks!

  8. Egorko says:

    I’ve downloaded cctk and installed, but “cctk –virtualization” gives me:

    C:\Program Files (x86)\Dell\CCTK\X86_64>cctk –virtualization
    This option is not available or cannot be configured through this tool: virtualization

    (DELL L702 with core i7 2670) :(

  9. Henok says:

    I had the same problem and it your solution worked perfectly! Thanks so much!

  10. Sahal says:

    Thanks ,, i tried very long day for this!!!!

  11. Agustin says:

    Thanks a lot! my xps now have VTx =)

  12. Bernard says:

    This steered me in the right direction! Thought my case is a little different.

    For Google: I am working on a Dell Latitude E6410, and my Hardware Virtualization did not work in Oracle VM VirtualBox.

    I did found the Virtualization options in my BIOS and they were enabled.

    When I execute “cctk –virtualization” the system did respond with “virtualization=enable”. But VirtualBox still did not “detect” it.

    So I went and disabled it with cctk, and then enabled it again with cctk, and it worked!

    Just execute “cctk –virtualization=disable” and then “cctk –virtualizaton=enable”. At this point VirtualBox will still not detect the ability. You have to SHUTDOWN the laptop and switch it on again. Then VirtualBox will enable the “Acceleration” tab under “System” in the virtual machines “Settings”.

    Thank you!

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