Install VMware Tools on Linux, Manual Install on a Linux VM

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Here is an easy method to install VMware Tools on Linux virtual machines via the Linux terminal.

Installing VMware Tools on a virtual machine improves a virtual machine’s usability. VMware Tools also enhances guest shutdown and suspend features. VMware Tools include all necessary virtual hardware drivers for your virtual machines. Think of VMware Tools as the interface between the VSphere host and the virtual machine.

The Linux open-source variant of VMware Tools is known as Open VM Tools (OVT). Both VMware Tools and Open VM Tools provides the same basic features for a Linux virtual machine. The difference is that the vSphere update manager can easily manage VMware Tools via vCenter, whereas Open VM tools cannot be.

The primary benefit of Open VM Tools is that we can incorporate it within the Linux installation ISO. We can then allow Open VM Tools to update along with the rest of the Linux patches.

As described below, there are multiple benefits to installing VMware Tools on a Linux virtual machine.

  • Vmware Tools enhances video resolution & Colors of a Linux virtual machine.
  • Vmware Tools provide guest screen resolution resizing (a very handy feature).
  • Vmware Tools enhances Network Interface Adapter (NIC) performance of a Linux virtual machine.
  • Vmware Tools enhances the audio functionality of the Linux virtual machine.
  • Vmware Tools improve mouse response of a Linux virtual machine.
  • Vmware Tools allow for copy & paste functionality into Linux virtual machines via the remote console.
  • Vmware Tools allows us to quiesce the guest file system in preparation for a backup of the guest VM.
  • Vmware Tools allow for time synchronization

In this article, we will primarily focus on how to manually install VMware Tools on Linux. If you would like to install Open VM Tools instead, please check out the linked article.

How to Manually Install VMware Tools on Linux

It is easy to install VMware Tools on Linux via the command line manually. 

First, we will need to mount the ISO for VMware Tools under a virtual machine, as shown below.

Actions > Guest OS > Install VMware Tools

Open VM Tools Linux

Once we have done that, we can SSH into our virtual machine or use the Linux terminal to mount the ISO file.

Change the working directory to

cd /mnt

Create a directory called “cdrom” by issuing the following command.

mkdir cdrom

Mount the “cdrom” directory by issuing the following command.

 mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom

Issue the ls command to list all of the files under the cdrom directory.

 ls 

copy or note the filename of your VMware Tools tar.gz file, you will need the file name in the steps below.

Unzip & Install VMware Tools on Linux

Please switch to the Linux temp directory, where we will unzip the contents of VMware Tools.

 cd /tmp

Unzip the VMwareTools tar.gz file by issuing the following command, replace VMwareTools-x.x.x-zzzz.tar.gz with your version of VMware Tools you have copier earlier.

tar zxf /mnt/cdrom/VMwareTools-x.x.x-zzzz.tar.gz 

You can now unmount the cdrom directory by issuing the following command.

umount /dev/cdrom

Finally, we can install VMware tools by changing the directory once again and issuing the commands below.

cd vmware-tools-distrib
./vmware-install.pl

You have completed the installation of VMware tools on a Linux virtual machine. If you would like to remove any of the leftover setup files, you can do so by issuing the following commands.

Switch back to the Linux temp directory.

 cd /tmp 

Remove VMware Tools files.

 rm -rf vmware-tools-distrib 

If you would like to verify VMware Tools’ installation, please look at the details under the virtual machine. The Linux virtual machine should show a successful installation, as shown below.

install VMware Tools on Linux

You may be wondering if a reboot is required after installing VMware Tools; the answer is NO. You do not have to restart your Linux virtual machine for the changes to take effect.

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