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01 January 2010

Installing VMware Tools on Ubuntu 9.10 Server (Guest)

Virtualization continues to amaze me.  It really was not that long ago when thinking of emulating a computer in software sounded great on paper, but simply didn't work in practice -- too slow, too many crashes, the list goes on.

Then cut to 2009/2010: it's all the rage.  Big service providers like Rackspace build entire business models around virtualized systems, and we consumers love it.  At least I do.

I used to have about 3, maybe 4 servers running at home to provide for a number of applications, services, and just isolation in some cases.  It was a noisy, messy affair with KVMs and cabling and switches all over the place.

These days, I have one box, under my desk running all those servers.

I salute VMware for making VMware Server available to the masses.  For that matter I salute all the open source efforts (like virtualbox) for making virtualization available to the world at large -- and not just some anaemic faulty versions, but solid industrial strength virtualization.

Anyway, I've been mucking around with Ubuntu 9.10 Server of late and thought that it would be helpful to post the procedure I used to get it working with VMware Tools.  If you've done this before you already know that it's messier than the Windows install :).

I did this after running "sudo bash" to get me a long-lived privileged session after logging in to the administrator's account in Ubuntu.  Not sure about best practice, but it saves me a whole bunch of sudo's.

This guide assumes that you have a clean, fresh install of Ubuntu.

Step 1: Install Basic Headers, Sources and Dependencies

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install build-essential libproc-dev libdumbnet-dev psmisc linux-headers-`uname -r` libicu-dev libglib2.0-dev libfuse-dev

Step 2: Uninstall any instances of Open VM Tools or VMware Tools

apt-get remove open-vm-tools
perl /usr/bin/vmware-uninstall-tools.pl

Step 3: Get VMware Tools tarball from VMware Virtual CD/ISO

It needs to be made available by selecting "Install VMware Tools" from the VMware Server "Host" menu.  The command chain below will create a build directory, mount the CD-ROM, grab the file, and unmount the CD-ROM.  Yes, I'm anal that way.
mkdir /build && cd /build && mount /media/cdrom && cp /media/cdrom/VMwareTools-*.tar.gz /build && umount /media/cdrom

Step 4: Build VMware tools and configure modules as needed

cd /build
tar xzvf VMwareTools-*.tar.gz
cd vmware-tools*/
perl ./vmware-install.pl

You will be bombarded by configuration questions.  For the most part all the defaults will work just fine.  Building the modules seems to be a problem for me using the VMware Tools tarball from VMware 1.0.8, but you might get better results from a VMware 2+ install, in any case the startup and shutdown controls work fine.

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