Friday, March 07, 2008


Installing VMWare tools under Debian

VMWare tools depend on specific kernel version, and thus upon upgrading the kernel it is necessary to upgrade them as well. This process is a bit painful and not without its caveats, so here is a brief description of steps involved.
  1. Make sure you have correct version of kernel headers installed. Under Debian, this is done with the command:
    # apt-get install linux-headers-2.6.18-6-686
    where version string is reported by "uname -r".
    While traditional location for linux header files was under /usr/src/linux, Debian puts them under /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.18-6-686/include (you will need this directory later in the installation process)
    Note: Aforementioned apt-get command would also create directory /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.18-6 with platform-independent files.
  2. Go to virtual machine settings and specifically enable "shared folders", if not already enabled (you do not need to add any such folders)
  3. Now select in VMWare menus: VM => Install VMware tools.
  4. In a few seconds, VMWare will mount VMWare tool installation "CD" (you will probably see CD image on the desktop and top-level folder opened). Ignore '.rpm' file and unpack '.tar.gz' file under '/tmp':
    # cd /tmp
    # tar -xvzf /media/cdrom0/VMwareTools-6.0.2-59824.tar.gz
  5. Start installation process:
    # cd vmware-tools-distrib
    # ./
    It will proceed for a while before beginning to ask questions about where to install files. Accept all of the suggested defaults.
  6. After all the files are installed, installer asks if you want to launch VMWare configuration tool /usr/bin/ . Say "yes" (the default)
  7. Here comes the only time when you (might) need to override default. When asked about "C header files that match your running kernel", specify directory "/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.18-6-686/include" (or similar) from step 1.
  8. Agree to install "experimental" feature "Virtual Machine Communication Interface".
  9. When selecting graphics mode, you screen might re-size and flicker for a few seconds.
  10. And the end, configuration utility shall start the services and report successful installation. Make sure that status line at the bottom of VMWare application window says "VMware tools installed successfully".
  11. Configuration utility might suggest to switch to vmxnet for network support, like that:
    /etc/init.d/network stop
    /sbin/rmmod pcnet32
    /sbin/rmmod vmxnet
    # /sbin/depmod -a (may be unnecessary)
    /sbin/modprobe vmxnet
    /etc/init.d/network start
  12. As part of the installation, installer overrides your existing configuration file. You have previously configured your scroll mouse, these changes are now lost (though there should be a backup file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.old.0 available).
    To make scroll mouse work again, restore these changes to /etc/X11/xorg.conf :
    Option "Protocol" "ImPS/2"
    Option "Emulate3Buttons" "false"
    Option "Buttons" "5"
    Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
  13. Shut down and them power up viertual machine to enable changes to to take effect and to make sure VMware services are properly restarted (do not just 'reboot')
  14. Upon successful startup, test scroll mouse and copy/paste between host and guest (if enabled in virtual machine properties, of course), and use /usr/bin/vmware-toolbox to make further adjustments to the configuration.
If everything went fine, congratulations! You have successfully installed/upgraded VMware tools. Till next kernel upgrade! IMPORTANT: If something didn't work and you must try again, do not just re-run or . Begin from step 3 !
Update (24-Jun-2008). If when invoking "install VMware tools" you get CD mounted with some garbage (instead of two installer files it is supposed to contain), then: (1) "Eject" this CD (e.g., with desktop CD icon using RMB); (2) Go to VM => "Cancel VMware tools install"; (3) Go to VM => "Install VMware Tools" again. This time it should work.

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