VMware Tools for Linux guests and desktop integration

If you installed a recent Linux guest recently then you might have noticed that things are changing. See also this blog post “Open-VM-Tools The Future of VMware Tools for Linux“. Trying to install the normal VMware Tools will tell you that it can’t and that you should use open-vm-tools instead. But there are numerous complaints about screen and desktop integration in the forums. So what is going on? Sven found the answer and I will tell you what it is if you read on below.

VMware decided to upstream VMware Tools into the Linux community and have the drivers available for the mainline kernel. That’s REALLY a good thing as it means that upgrading your kernel is much less likely to break your VMware Tools install. But it also means other things have changed a bit.

On a server without any desktop integration, installing open-vm-tools should do.

However if you want to be able to resize your screen or be able to use copy&paste or drag and drop between your host OS and your new Linux guest OS then you now need to install an additional package!

This is NEW and not very known at this stage.

You have to also install the package: open-vm-tools-desktop

See the following Knowledge base article for details: http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2073803

As a final note, in some recent release notes from VMware Fusion 8.0.2 there’s an additional note on problems with VMware Tools and Ubuntu 15.10. This might be fixed in Fusion 8.1, but as it has not been mentioned at the release notes, I will quote the details from the release note above and list the workaround here as well.

  • On the Ubuntu 15.10 guest operating system, replacing open-vm-tools with the bundled VMware Tools version, might cause VMware Tools to work improperly On the Ubuntu 15.10 guest, when you replace open-vm-tools with the VMware Tools version bundled with VMware Fusion 8.0.2, VMware Tools does not work as expected. After you reboot the system, an Ubuntu crash report might appear and one of the services in VMware Tools might stop working. Workaround: Use either of the following workarounds, depending on which is most appropriate for your situation.

  • Continue to use open-vm-tools. Do not use the bundled VMware Tools.

  • If the bundled VMware Tools are installed, perform the following steps:

    1. As root, edit the /etc/vmware-tools/vmware-user.desktop file by changing this line: Exec=/usr/bin/vmware-user To this line: Exec=env VMWARE_USE_SHIPPED_LIBS=1 /usr/bin/vmware-user

    2. Log out of the guest and log in again. This change can prevent the VMware Tools service (vmtoolsd) from crashing.

    3. To verify that the preceding steps are effective, issue the following command: 'ps -aux | grep vmtools' The appropriate command return shows both of the following vmtoolsd services running:

      • /usr/sbin/vmtoolsd

      • /usr/lib/vmware-tools/sbin64/vmtoolsd


Author: Wil van Antwerpen

Wil van Antwerpen is a software developer who loves to work on Open Source and dabble a bit with VMware products. He likes to help people out as that is a good way to learn more. He is the author of Vimalin Backup (https://vimalin.com) which is virtual machine backup software for VMware Fusion and VMware Workstation Pro.