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Setup: Ubuntu host, VMware vm, x86-64 kernel

Setup: Ubuntu host, VMware vm, x86-64 kernel

These are the instructions on how to fuzz the x86-64 kernel in VMware Workstation with Ubuntu on the host machine and Debian Bullseye in the virtual machines.

In the instructions below, the $VAR notation (e.g. $GCC, $KERNEL, etc.) is used to denote paths to directories that are either created when executing the instructions (e.g. when unpacking GCC archive, a directory will be created), or that you have to create yourself before running the instructions. Substitute the values for those variables manually.

GCC and Kernel

You can follow the same instructions for obtaining GCC and building the Linux kernel as when using QEMU.


Install debootstrap:

sudo apt-get install debootstrap

To create a Debian Bullseye Linux user space in the $USERSPACE dir do:

sudo mkdir -p $USERSPACE
sudo debootstrap --include=openssh-server,curl,tar,gcc,libc6-dev,time,strace,sudo,less,psmisc,selinux-utils,policycoreutils,checkpolicy,selinux-policy-default,firmware-atheros,open-vm-tools --components=main,contrib,non-free bullseye $USERSPACE

Note: it is important to include the open-vm-tools package in the user space as it provides better VM management.

To create a Debian Bullseye Linux VMDK do:

wget -O
chmod +x
./ $USERSPACE $KERNEL/arch/x86/boot/bzImage
qemu-img convert disk.raw -O vmdk disk.vmdk

The result should be disk.vmdk for the disk image and key for the root SSH key. You can delete disk.raw if you want.

VMware Workstation

Open VMware Workstation and start the New Virtual Machine Wizard. Assuming you want to create the new VM in $VMPATH, complete the wizard as follows:

Virtual Machine Settings

When you complete the wizard, you should have $VMPATH/debian.vmx. From this point onward, you no longer need the Workstation UI.

Starting the Debian VM (headless):

vmrun start $VMPATH/debian.vmx nogui

Getting the IP address of the Debian VM:

vmrun getGuestIPAddress $VMPATH/debian.vmx -wait

SSH into the VM:

ssh -i key root@<vm-ip-address>

Connecting to the serial port of the VM (after it is started):

nc -U $VMPATH/serial

Stopping the VM:

vmrun stop $VMPATH/debian.vmx

If all of the above vmrun commands work, then you can proceed to running syzkaller.


Create a manager config like the following, replacing the environment variables $GOPATH, $KERNEL and $VMPATH with their actual values.

	"target": "linux/amd64",
	"http": "",
	"workdir": "$GOPATH/src/",
	"kernel_obj": "$KERNEL",
	"sshkey": "$IMAGE/key",
	"syzkaller": "$GOPATH/src/",
	"procs": 8,
	"type": "vmware",
	"vm": {
		"count": 4,
		"base_vmx": "$VMPATH/debian.vmx",

Run syzkaller manager:

mkdir workdir
./bin/syz-manager -config=my.cfg

Syzkaller will create full clone VMs from the base_vmx VM and then use ssh to copy and execute programs in them. The base_vmx VM will not be started and its disk will remain unmodified.

If you get issues after syz-manager starts, consider running it with the -debug flag. Also see this page for troubleshooting tips.