Kernel Version Confusion for VMWareWorkstation 12.5.7

I am currently running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (I’m the other person on the planet who likes Unity), and just upgraded the kernel over the weekend.  The upgrade was from v4.10 to 4.13.  As suspected, this broke my VMWare Workstation 12.5.7 installation (it is only good up to kernel v4.12), and I ended up regressing the kernel back to 4.10 (my VMs are critical) via grub2.  My only concern with this is whether the other updates that came at the same time were dependent on v4.13, and if the regression broke them.  In any case, I was reading up on the new kernel releases over the week in response to Meltdown/Spectre, and the kernel versions mentioned are 4.4.0.108 and 4.4.0.109.  So, why am I at v4.10 (or even 4.13)...?!?  Am I confusing the version numbers?

I sent the following to VMWare Support:

I am currently using Workstation 12.5.7, which is currently broken under kernel versions >= 4.13.  From a security perspective, the inability to upgrade kernels makes me extremely nervous (I am currently sitting at v4.10).  I understand that general support for this flavor of Workstation ends next month, so I was hoping for a timeline that this security vulnerability is hopefully being addressed.  I am not in the position to upgrade to version 14 at the current time, both from a financial and temporal standpoint.  Please advise as to my options, and thank you for your time.
volleyballjerrySr. Software EngineerAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Consider upgrading VMware Workstation V14.1.1 and that should alleviate your problem.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I sent the following to VMWare Support:

I am currently using Workstation 12.5.7, which is currently broken under kernel versions >= 4.13.  From a security perspective, the inability to upgrade kernels makes me extremely nervous (I am currently sitting at v4.10).  I understand that general support for this flavor of Workstation ends next month, so I was hoping for a timeline that this security vulnerability is hopefully being addressed.  I am not in the position to upgrade to version 14 at the current time, both from a financial and temporal standpoint.  Please advise as to my options, and thank you for your time.

I would be interested to see the response from VMware - probably don't care, as they sacked most of the VMware Workstation development team years ago at about the time 12.x was released. VMware Workstatioin is losing them money, and after the recent round of redundancies at VMware, not too sure what the future holds for VMware Workstation.

But if the product is End of Life, it's End of Life and out of support! What makes it interesting is VMware Workstation 12.5.7 Pro for Windows is still available for download!

VMware Workstation 12.x: update to version 12.5.9.

12.5.9 download here:-

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/desktop_end_user_computing/vmware_workstation_pro/12_0


Security

This update of VMware Workstation Pro exposes hardware support for branch target injection mitigation to VMware guests.   This hardware is used by some guest operating systems to mitigate CVE-2018-5715 (also called by the name "Spectre").

For a guest operating system to use hardware support for branch target injection mitigation, the following steps must be taken:

Install this update of VMware Workstation Pro

Ensure that your VM is using Hardware Version 9 or higher.  For best performance, Hardware Version 11 or higher is recommended.

Update your guest operating system with fixes for CVE-2018-5715 (consult the operating system vendor for these updates).

Update the host firmware (or CPU microcode, if host firmware cannot be updated).

Please see VMware knowledge base article 52085 for more details.

Source
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Workstation-Pro/12.0/rn/workstation-1259-release-notes.html
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
I am currently running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS ...

workstation 12 isn't even supported on 16.04

Supported host operating systems for Workstation Pro 12.x and 14.x
https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2129859
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I have Unbuntu 16 on my Windows 10 Host machine with VMware Workstation 14 - works fine.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Works and Supported are very different things!
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Ubuntu 16 is (so far as I know) as supported Guest inside Workstation 14
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Hang on some confusion here, these are supported Guest VMs, in Workstation....

2018-01-22-17_55_41-VMware-Compatibi.png
But this is a Ubuntu 16.04 Host running 12.5.x.  but the table is a bit weird.... Ubuntu 16.04 is listed twice and shows support for both 12.5 and 14.x see here

2018-01-22-18_00_24-Supported-host-o.png
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Good point, but still, VMWare V12 is too old for this and should be upgraded.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
VMware released a patch on 10 Jan - 12.5.9, they could have told everyone upgrade and pay for v14, but they fixed the code and issues a security patch. Like any good vendor!
John HubbardCommented:
@Anrdew Hancock: Except VMWare didn't fix things.  VMWare workstation 12.5.9 still fails to compile/run on Ubuntu 16.04.3.  What ever was changed in 12.5.9 does not include supporting *buntu 16.04 when running the 4.13 kernel.  Being that Vmware Workstation 12 is not yet out of General Support [1], they really should fix it.  The cynic in me says that they'll spend the next month 'working' on a fix but it just won't happen before the 2018/02/25 end of general support.  

[1] https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/support/product-lifecycle-matrix.pdf

Edit: I missed OPs original question (and therefore didn't answer it).  Ubuntu 16.04 was originally released with the 4.4 kernel.  This is known as the General Availability (GA) kernel.  For LTS releases in addition to the GA kernel Ubuntu provide what they call the Hardware Enablement Stack HWE [2] kernel.  The HWE kernels are the kernels from the non-LTS Ubuntu versions.
 They come out ~ 3 months after a non-LTS release and then receive 6 months of updates (which means they EOL at the same time as the non-LTS Ubuntu version that they ship with).  See the chart on the ubuntu wiki [2]; a picture really is worth a thousand words in this case.

One can end up on the HWE track by either explicitly enabling it or by installing from Ubuntu 16.04.2 (or later) installation media.  If OP was was running 4.10 then they were on the HWE; when the HWE kernel was bumped from 4.10 to 4.13 a regular upgrade would have picked up the new kernel.  The 4.13 HWE kernel was released a few weeks early [3] I suspect to avoid the added work of patching the 4.10 kernel which would have been EOL in less than a month.

If op doesn't need/want features from kernels newer than 4.4 then he can uninstall the HWE kernel, and/or just boot to a 4.4 kernel.  If meltdown mitigation is important to you then booting to 4.4 is the safest option.  

[2] https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel/LTSEnablementStack
[3] https://wiki.ubuntu.com/SecurityTeam/KnowledgeBase/SpectreAndMeltdown

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volleyballjerrySr. Software EngineerAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone who helped on this. I am all set.
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