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Before you start using VMware Tools, knowing a thing or two about what VMware is would be wise. Based in California, VMware is a virtualization and cloud-computing company noted for being the first commercially successful company to virtualize the x86 architecture. There are many good business reasons to leverage the power of VMware.

VMware Tools is a set of services the company has designed to enhance the manageability of virtual machines in its various virtualization environments. These environments include vSphere, Workstation, Fusion, and others.

VMware Tools has many features to help you better performance. For example, you can use VMware Tools to exchange messages and files between the host and guest operating systems, customize guest operating systems, run scripts to automate management of guest operating systems, synchronize time between the host and guest operating systems, and more. Read on to learn how to install VMware Tools on Ubuntu.

Tutorial Requirements

To complete this tutorial, you will first need to ensure that you meet the following requirements.

If one or more of the listed requirements are unmet, you should address them first and then proceed.

3 Methods to Install VMware Tools on Ubuntu

You can install VMware Tools on a machine running Ubuntu in three different ways:

  1. Using the Open VM Tools Package to install the VMware Tools software.
  2. Installing the set of services known as VMware Tools via the graphical user interface (GUI).
  3. Making use of the terminal to install VMware Tools.

Here are the instructions for all three methods in a step-by-step fashion.

Method #1: Use the Open VM Tools Package to Install VMware Tools

Step #1a: Open the Terminal

If running a GUI version of Ubuntu, use the sidebar or search bar to navigate to the Linux terminal.

You can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T as another alternative. However, you can skip this step if you are running a terminal version of Ubuntu.

Step #1b: Update Package Information

Before you install VMware Tools on Ubuntu, it is important to ensure that your operating system has the latest package information. To do this, you need to use the below apt-get update command, which will automatically update any outdated package information:

sudo apt-get update

Once this process is complete, you will see the following message: Done.

Step #1c: Install VMware Tools on GUI-Based Ubuntu

Now, you are ready to install the Open VM Tools package. Use the following command to install it to a GUI-based version of Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools-desktop

Step #1d: Install VMware Tools on Terminal-Based Ubuntu

If you are using a terminal-based version of Ubuntu, you should use the following command instead:

sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools

Step #1e: Reboot the Machine

Finally, reboot the system to complete the installation process with the below command:

sudo reboot

Method #2: Use the Graphical User Interface (GUI) to Install VMware Tools

This method requires the use of a VMware Workstation virtual machine (VM) to install VMware Tools on a GUI-based version of Ubuntu.

Step #2a: Download VMware Workstation

For this method, you will use VMware Workstation. If you don’t have it installed, you can download it from its official website. See the image below for reference:

For this method, you will use VMware Workstation. If you don’t have it installed, you can download it from its official website.


Step #2b: Run the Installation

Run the installation file by opening the terminal and using the following command. Make sure to replace the $username and other directories with the correct path to your downloads directory:

sudo bash /home/$username/Downloads/VMware-Player-Full-17.0.2-21581411.x86_64.bundle

See the image below for reference:

Run the installation file by opening the terminal and using the following command. Make sure to replace the $username and other directories with the correct path to your downloads directory.


Step #2c: Install VMware Workstation

Install the software by clicking the Next button in the installation wizard until the process is complete. You will also have the option of choosing a free trial version. See the image below for reference:

Install the software by clicking the Next button in the installation wizard until the process is complete. You will also have the option of choosing a free trial version.


Step #2d: Open the VMware Workstation

Use the sidebar or search bar to open VMware Workstation. See the image below for reference:

Use the sidebar or search bar to open VMware Workstation.


Step 2#e: Use VMware Workstation to Create a New Ubuntu Virtual Machine

After you open the application, select the first option titled Create a New Virtual Machine. You will then need to provide an Ubuntu image to complete the setup wizard for the new machine. See the image below for reference:

After you open the application, select the first option titled Create a New Virtual Machine. You will then need to provide an Ubuntu image to complete the setup wizard for the new machine.


Step #2f: Download an Ubuntu Image

To create a virtual machine, you need an Ubuntu image. If you don’t have one, download it from the official website. See the image below for reference:

To create a virtual machine, you need an Ubuntu image. If you don’t have one, download it from the official website.


Step #2g: Start the Installation Process for VMware Tools

Now that you have a virtual Ubuntu machine running in VMware Workstation, you can install VMware Tools. Click the Virtual Machine menu item in Workstation’s upper left menu and then Install VMware Tools. This action will mount a new virtual drive to your Ubuntu virtual machine. See the image below for reference:

Now that you have a virtual Ubuntu machine running in VMware Workstation, you can install VMware Tools. Click the Virtual Machine menu item in Workstation’s upper left menu and then Install VMware Tools. This action will mount a new virtual drive to your Ubuntu virtual machine.


Step #2h: Extract the Archive

Next up, you should extract the VMware Tools archive located on the new virtual disk. To do this, navigate to the archive using the file explorer, right-click, and select Extract To. See the image below for reference:

Next up, you should extract the VMware Tools archive located on the new virtual disk. To do this, navigate to the archive using the file explorer, right-click, and select Extract To.


Step 2i#: Install VMware Tools

Navigate to the directory where you have extracted the installation files and run the vmware-install.pl script:

sudo ./vmware-install.pl -f

See the image below for reference:

Navigate to the directory where you have extracted the installation files and run the vmware-install.pl script.


Step 2j#: Reboot the Machine

Finally, reboot your system to complete the installation process with the below command:

sudo reboot

See the image below for reference:

Finally, reboot your system to complete the installation process with the below command.


Method #3: Use the Terminal to Install VMware Tools

This method requires the use of a VMware Workstation VM to install VMware Tools on a terminal-based version of Ubuntu. If you don’t currently have VMware Workstation installed, you first need to follow steps from the second method presented above for its installation.

Step #3a: Mount the Image Manually

Use the following two commands to create a new mount point directory and mount the image:

sudo mkdir -p /mnt/cdrom
sudo mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom

Step #3b: Open the Image

Then, open the image directory and find the archive:

cd /mnt/cdrom

Step #3c: Extract the Archive

Extract the archive from the image using the following command. Make sure to replace $VMwareTools with its full file name and $destination with your desired destination for the extracted files:

sudo tar -xf $VMwareTools.tar.gz -C /$destination

Step #3d: Run the VMware Tools Installation

You can now navigate to the script file and run the installation with the below:

sudo ./vmware-install.pl –f

Step #3e: Reboot the Machine

Finally, reboot your system with the below command to complete the installation process:

sudo reboot

Wrapping Up

VMware brings many benefits to the world of virtualization and cloud infrastructure. As mentioned, among other things, VMware Tools enables better management of guest virtual machines and extends the communication capabilities between guest and host machines.

There are three different ways to install VMware Tools on your Ubuntu machine, which have been covered above. The first involves using the Open VM Tools package, while the second and third methods take advantage of VMware’s Workstation software.

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