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Installing VMware Tools

Jan 12th 2010
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This article describes how to install, configure and uninstall VMware Tools for UNIX virtual machines.

What exactly is VMware Tools?
Before we cover how to install VMware Tools, there is a lot of general misconception over what exactly VMware Tools is.  Let’s set the story straight.

Depending on the guest operating system, VMware Tools provides a range of facilities.  VMware Tools remains a packaged bundle of software, including a service, optimised device drivers, control panel, a user process, and scripts.  We’ll cover each, one by one.

  • Service: this is VMwareService.exe on Windows, and vmware-guestd on Linux and Solaris.  This service is responsible for synchronising the time in guest OS with host (ESX/ESXi).  Under Windows, it is this service that also grabs and releases the mouse cursor.
  • Device Drivers: these include the SVGA display driver, the paravirtualised vmxnet networking driver (supported only by some guest OSs), the BusLogic SCSI driver, vmemctld memory control driver (also known as the memory balloon permitting efficient memory reclamation), synchronisation driver to quiesce I/O for VMware Consolidated Backup, and the VMware mouse driver.
  • Control Panel: this simply permits the modification of settings, shrink virtual disks, (dis)connect virtual devices.
  • Scripts: these helps automate guest OS operations; scripts run when VMs power state changes.  Note, under Linux, these require Perl to be installed.
  • User process: this is VMwareUser.exe on Windows, and vmware-user on Linux and Solaris.  Under Linux and Solaris, this process grabs and releases mouse cursor (when SVGA driver is not installed!)  These user processes are NOT installed on NetWare OSs as the vmwtool program is installed instead, which controls grab and release of mouse cursor and controls copy and paste of text.
  • Limitations of VMware Tools:
    • Note that shrink disk is not supported.
    • Default scripts for suspend and resume do not work under Windows NT.
    • Mouse driver installation fails in X Windows versions earlier than 4.2.0.
    • Without VMware Tools installed, VMs cannot use the shutdown or restart options.  Instead, shutdown and restart from within the guest OS before powering off the virtual machine to avoid data loss.

Installing VMware Tools

  • Ensure the virtual machine (VM) is booted and the guest operating environment is operating.
  • Log in as the root user or as a normal user that has access to privileged commands.
  • From VMware Infrastructure Web Access, select “Install VMware Tools”.
  • The guest OS will mount the virtual CD that VMware presents to it.
  • Copy from CDROM:
    # cp /cdrom/vmwaretools/vmware-solaris-tools.tar.gz /tmp
  • Change directory:
    # cd /tmp
  • Extract the install:
    # gunzip vmware-solaris-tools.tar.gz && tar xvf vmware-solaris-tools.tar
  • Run the install script:
    # ./

Solaris note: once VMware Tools is installed, all “pcn” network interfaces are moved to the “vmxnet” driver (thus pcn0 becomes vmxnet0)

Configuring VMware Tools
Once installed, VMware Tools will prompt you to run the configuration utility. If you agree, the configuration utility is ran for you automatically. If at a later date you need to reconfigure something within VMware Tools using the utility, you can access the configuration utility as follows.

  • As root, run the config script:
    # /usr/bin/

Uninstall VMware Tools
To uninstall VMware Tools, just follow the simple procedure below.

  • As root, run the uninstall script:
    # /usr/bin/


  • Automatically Upgrade VMware Tools under VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 and VMware vSphere 4.0:
    • This is not supported for virtual machines running Solaris or NetWare guest OSs.
    • Must have a VMware Tools version shipped with ESX 3.0.1 or greater installed.
    • The virtual machine (VM) must be hosted on ESX 3.0.1 or greater.
    • The virtual machine (VM) must be running Linux or Windows guest OS supported by ESX 3.0.1 or greater and vCenter Server 2.0.1 or greater.
    • The virtual machine (VM) must be powered on.
    • Configure: VM Properaties > Options tab > VMware Tools > select the ‘Check and upgrade Tools before each power-on’ option under Automatic VMware Tools Upgrade.  The next time the VM is powered on, ESX host checks for a newer VMware Tools version and if found, is installed and the guest OS is restarted (if required).

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