ESXi build 5572656 breaks Hardware Graphics Acceleration
Updated: May 5, 2020
A customer found a seriously nasty bug with the above mentioned VMware build. When you update to this version, both your vGPU desktops and/or vSGA (Hardware Acceleration) desktops do not work anymore. They fail to boot, reporting that there are no graphics available. Running Nvidia-smi from the command line will not tell you anything, since the drivers are loaded succesfully and they show their normal status.
When you check the status of the Xorg services with /etc/init.d/xorg status, you find your problem, the Xorg services are not started. When you try to start them by using /etc/init.d/xorg start, you are presented with this message: Error: Unknown command or namespace graphics host refresh, still not starting the Xorg services and rendering all possible use of the graphics hardware inoperable.
We have tried a few things, since there were Nvidia drivers used from a while back installed on the host, and updated them to the latest version availble for the K1 and K2 cards, but to no avail. The first post we came across was this one:
Which lead us to the VMware KB that deals with this particular issue:
At present, there is no solution to the issue, just a work around. The workaround consists of actually replacing the xorg file itself with a temporary one, changing the rights on the file and then starting the services. This workaround has to be reapplied after a reboot of the host!!
For now, when you are using either vGPU or vSGA, do not upgrade beyond ESXi 6.0 build 5224934 as we have confirmed that the graphics acceleration still works in this build and older. Testing on ESXi 6.5 hasn't been done... yet.
For a complete list of VMware builds, see Build numbers and versions of VMware ESXi/ESX (2143832).