Installing VMWare’s ESXi guest tools on Ubuntu 11.10

There seems to be a lot of confusion in the IRC channel about how to install the guest tools on linux – with a lot of people recommending that you install the tools via the tools installer and the script. I really don’t like to do things this way – as I believe things should be installed using the package manager, and creating .debs of the tools means you don’t need to install a compiler on all of your guests.

Most of the information here is actually from VMWares own docs, which I found really hard to track down! Here’s the link to the doc –

Ubuntu supports vmxnet out of the box, so it’s fine to setup your VM with this NIC. Install your guest VM as normal. open-vm-tools is not supported by VMWare, even though it’s their own code that they released to the open source community – so if you want support, follow this guide.

Unfortunatly, at time of writing, oneiric is not supported as such, the latest supported is natty – however… you’ll have no problems following this guide for oneiric too. Add this to your sourcess list (either in /etc/apt/sources.list or in sources.d, whichever you prefer). Notice the use of natty below, even though we’re dealing with oneiric. I know – it’s not nice, but… such is life!

  deb natty main

Next, add VMWare’s keys:

  # wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
  # wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -

Now update apt:

  # apt-get update

Now, install the tools:

  # apt-get install vmware-tools-esx-nox

The fun starts here, lets compile our modules for the running kernel!

  # apt-get install vmware-tools-foundation debhelper

You can see what modules are available by doing:

  # apt-cache search vmware module

I’m just going to install a few of those here:

  # apt-get install vmware-tools-vmxnet3-modules-source vmware-tools-vmxnet3-common vmware-tools-pvscsi-modules-source vmware-tools-pvscsi-common vmware-tools-vmmemctl-modules-source vmware-tools-vmmemctl-common vmware-tools-vmci-modules-source vmware-tools-vmci-common

a few more things to do…

  # module-assistant prepare

Now compile, and install:

# for i in vmware-tools-vmxnet3-modules-source vmware-tools-pvscsi-modules-source vmware-tools-vmmemctl-modules-source vmware-tools-vmci-modules-source; do module-assistant build $i; module-assistant install $i; done

Done! Note that in /usr/src, there’s now a whole load of .deb’s that you can distribute out. Please, still read the VMWare doc listed above, and please do make sure you understand each step listed too.

Let’s just confirm it all:

# ps aux | grep tool
root      1875  0.0  0.3  68684  3808 ?        S    20:32   0:00 /usr/sbin/vmtoolsd

# lsmod | grep vm
vmci                   54487  0
vmw_balloon            12846  0
vmxnet3                45833  0

Easy eh? You should now see in vSphere client a tools status of ‘Running (3rd-party/Independent)’.

8 thoughts on “Installing VMWare’s ESXi guest tools on Ubuntu 11.10”

  1. I’ve tried this procedure with no luck on an Ubuntu server 11.10.

    All the installation process goes fine but there’s no vmtoolsd installed and running at the end (“locate vmtoolsd” returns only configuration files).

    1. That’s strange…

      Did you install vmware-tools-esx-nox, as that should pull in vmware-tools-services – this package provides the vmtoolsd binary.

  2. I followed this procedure exactly, even though my ESXi is 4.1 not 5.0. All seems to work fine, except that vSphere reports the VmTools status as “Unmanaged”. According to the web, “Unmanaged simply means that the hypervisor won’t manage the upgrade of the vmtools and that it is instead the vendor’s responsibility to do so. The tools are working correctly.”

  3. Spent several hours trying to install VMWare Tools on Oneric amd64/ESXi 4.1. Followed this instruction as well, tried oneric main and natty main, 4.1latest and 5.0. Tools are installed successfully, but in vSphere they appear as ‘Unmanaged’ (but should appear as 3rd-party/Independent)’.

    Now I’m giving up. Will use lucid i386 and native VMWare Tools from the host.

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