The strange case of Fixcamera.exe and a broken xpmode vm on windows 7

This particular case was odd as it drew together a number of different problems and clues. The initial problem was a windows 7 64 bit machine running an xpmode vm. The client reported that it had just stopped working and would not start. On checking what really appeared to be happening was that the vm was starting but could not be seen on screen.

I quizzed the user about any hardware or software updates but nothing sprang to mind. A removal of the xpmode components and a “reinstall” appeared to do nothing. I then considered replacing the xpmode with VMware player to see what state the vm was in and thats where the strangeness began.

The install program for VMplayer would not run. No splash screen. Nothing.

Testing the same download on another machine worked fine. So I looked at the process table in task manager and saw two msiexec processes. Upon investigation I found that one appeared to relate to a Skype addin. Upon removing this I rebooted and tried installation again. Still no splash screen but only one MSIexec process running. I also then tried run as administrator for the vmware player and saw a trustedinstaller process.

So the breakthough came after some googling and finding references to an issue with a webcam install which appeared to leave a fixcamera process running which interfered with installations and starting vms. On investigation the process was running on this machine so I killed it and restarted the install which sprang into life. I stopped that install and reinstalled the xpmode components – which ran through perfectly and allowed me to configure the software for use. Five minutes later I had a configured vm on the domain again.

My advice if you come across the problem of vms not starting under XPmode on Windows 7 – take a look for fixcamera.exe in the process table and “fix” that before trying your vms.