Some Windows users that are trying to use VMware Workstation or VMware Player are reporting that they see the “Operating System not found” error during the bootup sequence of the virtual machine. The error is reported to occur when users try to install an OS from a physical drive or from an ISO file. The issue is not exclusive to a certain Windows version since it’s confirmed to occur on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
What is causing the “Operating System not found” error?
We looked into this particular issue by analyzing various user reports and the repair strategies that are most effective in resolving this particular error. As it turns out, there are multiple culprits that have the potential of triggering the “Operating System not found” error:
- ISO is not bootable – In most cases, this error occurs because the user tries to use an ISO file that is not actually bootable but contains a collection of update. If this scenario is applicable, you can resolve the issue by using a different ISO that is bootable.
- VMware isn’t instructed to use a physical drive – If you’re trying to use a physical disk for your virtual machine installation (an optical drive or flash drive), you’ll need to reflect that change inside VMware’s settings. In this case, you can resolve the issue by making some changes inside the Settings menu associated with the VM.
- Corrupted VM files – In some cases, this error might occur if some files belonging to the virtual machine that you’re trying to launch have become corrupted. If this scenario is applicable, you can resolve the issue by recreating the virtual machine from scratch.
- PXE boot period is too short – It’s also possible that the booting sequence fails because the PXE sequence is over before the screen asking for user interaction is shown. In this case, you can resolve the hte issue by modifying the .vmx file with a boot delay.
If you’re currently to resolve the same error message, this article will provide you with tested solutions that might just fix the issue for you. Down below, you’ll find several methods that other users encountering the “Operating System not found” error have successfully used to fix this particular issue.
Because the methods below are ordered via their efficiency and difficulty, we advise you to follow them in the order that they are presented. One of them is bound to resolve the issue regardless of the culprit that ends up causing it.
Method 1: Verifying that the ISO is bootable
In most cases, this particular issue occurs with users that are mistakenly trying to use an ISO file that actually contains a package with updates instead of a bootable OS. Keep in mind that you need to use a bootable operating system media in order for the mounting to be successful on your virtual machine.
If you are seeing the “Operating System not found” error when attempting to install an OS file on VMware, start by ensuring that the ISO you’re using is actually bootable. In the event that you determine that the ISO that you are using is not bootable, go for a different option or follow the next method below.
Method 2: Specifying that you’re using a physical device (if applicable)
If you’re trying to install the OS from a bootable disk, chances are you get the “Operating System not found” error because you’ve failed to specify the boot drive. In order to boot from a physical CD/DVD without encountering issues, you’ll need to tell VMware (via the Settings menu) that it needs to boot from a physical CD or DVD.
Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:
- Double-click on VMware Workstation or VMware player to open the application.
- From the main menu, right-click on the machine that you’re having issues with and choose Settings.
- Inside the Virtual Machine Settings, select the Hardware tab from the top of the screen.
- Next, scroll down through the list of devices and click on CD/DVD (SATA) once to select it.
- With the CD/DVD (SATA) device selected, move over to the right-hand pane and change the Connection toggle to Use physical drive. Then, use the drop-down menu to select the optical drive that you’re inserting the installation media in.
- Once you instruct VMware to use the right physical optical drive, click Ok to save the changes.
- Launch the virtual machine once again and see if the issue has been resolved.
If you’re still encountering the “Operating System not found” error, move down to the next method below.
Method 3: Recreating the virtual machine
Some affected users have reported that they were able to resolve the issue by recreating the virtual machine and making sure that BIOS is preferred instead of UEFI. Others that we’re using VM Fusion or VMware workstation have reported that unchecking Easy Install has resolved the issue for them.
Here’s a quick guide on recreating the virtual machine:
- Open your VMware application and click on Home from the left-hand menu. Then, move over to the menu on the right and click on Create a New Virtual Machine.
- From the New Virtual Machine Wizard screen, select the source of your installation and click Next.
Note: If you’re using VM Fusion or VMware workstation, make sure that you un-check “Easy Install“.
- From the next screen, set a name for your virtual machine and a location where the virtual machine will be saved.
- At the next screen, set the maximum disk size and decide on the method of storing the virtual disk before clicking on Next again.
- At the next screen, leave the hardware settings to the default values or set them yourself before clicking on Finish.
- Run the newly created virtual machine and see if the issue has been resolved.
If the same “Operating System not found” error is still occurring, move down to the next method below.
Method 4: Ensuring that you get to see the Windows Installer screen
As it turns out, with certain virtual machine configurations the VMware has the potential of attempting to PXE boot and ends up failing because the user is unable to connect with the VM quick enough and press a key at the Press any key to boot into Windows Installer screen quick enough.
If this scenario is applicable, you can resolve the issue by establishing a boot delay of 6 seconds or higher in order to give yourself the time to act during the Press any key to boot into Windows Installer screen.
Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:
- Make sure that any virtual machine and the main VMware application is closed.
- First things first, you’ll need a text editor smart enough to let you edit the .vmx file. You can also do this with notepad, but in order to ensure that you don’t end up overdoing any data, we encourage you to download & install Notepad++ (here).
- Once you have a reliable text editor installed, open File Explorer and navigate to the following location:
Note: Keep in mind that *YourUser* is simply a placeholder for the name of your Windows user account. Replace it with the name applicable in your situation.
- Once you get to the Virtual Machines folder, open the folder associated with the virtual machine that you’re having issues with.
- Inside the folder of the virtual machine look for the .vmx file belonging to this VM.
Note: If you are unable to see the extensions go to the ribbon at the top, click on View tab and make sure that the box associated with File name extensions is enabled.
- Right-click on the .vmx file and choose Edit with Notepad++.
- Inside the Notepad++ windows, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and paste the following line of code:
bios.bootDelay = "6000"
- Go to File from the ribbon bar at the top and click on Save. Then, you can safely close the file opened in Notepad++.
- Open the virtual machine that was previously triggering the “Operating System not found” error and see if the issue has been resolved.