VMware/Installing Arch as a guest

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This article is about installing Arch Linux in a VMware product, such as Player (Plus), Fusion or Workstation.

In-kernel drivers

  • vmw_balloon - The physical memory management driver. It acts like a "balloon" that can be inflated to reclaim physical pages by reserving them in the guest and invalidating them in the monitor, freeing up the underlying machine pages so they can be allocated to other guests. It can also be deflated to allow the guest to use more physical memory. Deallocated Virtual Machine memory can be reused in the host without terminating the guest.
  • vmw_pvscsi - For VMware's Paravirtual SCSI (PVSCSI) HBA.
  • vmw_vmci - The Virtual Machine Communication Interface. It enables high-speed communication between host and guest in a virtual environment via the VMCI virtual device.
  • vmwgfx - For 3D acceleration. This is a KMS enabled DRM driver for the VMware SVGA2 virtual hardware.
  • vmxnet3 - For VMware's vmxnet3 virtual ethernet NIC.
  • a fuse-based hgfs implementation has been added to open-vm-tools 10.0+ and is supported from kernel version 4.0+.

These drivers are only needed if you are running Arch Linux on a hypervisor like VMware vSphere Hypervisor. Client-server applications can write to the VMCI Sock (vsock) interface to make use of the VMCI virtual device, when communicating between virtual machines.

  • vsock - The Virtual Socket Protocol. It is similar to the TCP/IP socket protocol, allowing communication between Virtual Machines and hypervisor or host.
  • vmw_vsock_vmci_transport - Implements a VMCI transport for Virtual Sockets.
Note: Arch's Udev auto-detects and enables a few of these modules. Additional modules, such as vmw_balloon, may need to be added to your Mkinitcpio's MODULES list. For example:
 # cat /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
MODULES="... vmw_balloon vmw_pvscsi vsock vmw_vsock_vmci_transport ..."

Make sure to rebuild with:

 # mkinitcpio -p linux

Some modules, such as the legacy vmhgfs shared folder module, will require additional work to manually compile and systemd enable in order to function properly.

VMware Tools versus Open-VM-Tools

In 2007, VMware released large partitions of the VMware Tools under the LGPL as Open-VM-Tools. The official Tools are not available separately for Arch Linux.

Originally, VMware Tools provided the best drivers for network and storage, combined with the functionality for other features such as time synchronization. However, for quite a while now the drivers for the network/SCSI adapter are part of the Linux kernel, and VMware Tools is only needed for extra features like Unity mode.



The open-vm-tools package comes namely with the following utilities:

  • vmtoolsd - Service responsible for the Virtual Machine status report.
  • vmware-checkvm - Tool to check whether a program is running in the guest.
  • vmware-toolbox-cmd - Tool to obtain Virtual Machine information of the host.
  • vmware-user-suid-wrapper - Tool to enable clipboard sharing (copy/paste) between host and guest.
  • vmware-vmblock-fuse - Filesystem utility. Enables drag & drop functionality between host and guest through FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace).
  • vmware-xferlogs - Dumps logging/debugging information to the Virtual Machine logfile.
  • vmhgfs-fuse - Utility for mounting vmhgfs shared folders.


The open-vm-tools-dkmsAUR package comes with the following modules:

  • vmhgfs - Legacy filesystem driver. Enables legacy sharing implementation between host and guest.
  • vmxnet - for the old VMXNET network adapter.


Install the open-vm-tools. If you want to use shared folders you also need to install the open-vm-tools-dkmsAUR package.

Open-VM-Tools reads version information from /etc/arch-release, which is empty:

# cat /proc/version > /etc/arch-release

Multi-User Target

If you're booting into the multi-user.target then follow the steps mentioned here. If you're booting into the graphical.target then please skip this section and read the instructions for the graphical.target.

Start vmtoolsd.service and enable it on boot, if desired.

Graphical Target

If you are booting into a graphical environment then follow these steps to enable the VMware tools.

Enable the vmware-vmblock-fuse.service Systemd service. NOTE: as of 2018/01/01 it appears that vmtoolsd (as described in above multi-user section) must also be enabled in order for this to work properly.

If you have installed open-vm-tools-dkmsAUR then you should enable the dkms.service Systemd service which automatically recompiles the kernel modules after a kernel update.

Try to install gtkmm3 manually if it does not work properly. To enable copy&paste between host and guest gtkmm3 is required.

Host/Guest interaction

For automatic resolution update on window resize and in order to enable copy&paste between host and guest start /usr/bin/vmware-user-suid-wrapper from within X. This may throw warnings like "vmware-user: could not open /proc/fs/vmblock/dev" and warnings about GTK which can be ignored.

Official VMware Tools


  • vmblock - Filesystem driver. Enables drag & drop functionality between host and guest (superseded by the vmware-vmblock-fuse utility).
  • vmci - High performance communication interface between host and guest.
  • vmmon - Virtual Machine Monitor.
  • vmnet - Networking driver.
  • vsock - VMCI sockets.
Note: There is no module for vmware-vmblock-fuse, and vmblock has been removed from the kernel unless you disable fuse. Instead, systemd services need to be enabled to allow these functions. See instructions below.

Installation (from guest)

Install the dependencies: base-devel (for building), net-tools (for ifconfig, used by the installer) and linux-headers (for kernel headers).

Then, create bogus init directories for the installer:

# for x in {0..6}; do mkdir -p /etc/init.d/rc${x}.d; done

The installer can then be mounted:

# mount /dev/cdrom /mnt

Extracted (e.g. to /root):

# tar xf /mnt/VMwareTools*.tar.gz -C /root

And started:

# perl /root/vmware-tools-distrib/vmware-install.pl

You can safely ignore the following build failures:

  • VMNEXT 3 virtual network card
  • "Warning: This script could not find mkinitrd or update-initramfs and cannot remake the initrd file!"
  • Fuse components not found on the system.

Enable vmware-vmblock-fuse systemd services:

 # abs community/open-vm-tools
 # cp /var/abs/community/open-vm-tools/vmware-* /usr/lib/systemd/system
 # systemctl enable vmware-vmblock-fuse.service

Reboot the Virtual Machine:

# systemctl reboot

Log in and start the VMware Tools:

# /etc/init.d/rc6.d/K99vmware-tools start
Tip: There is also a project in GitHub trying to automate all this.

Xorg configuration

Note: To use Xorg in a Virtual Machine, a minimum of 32MB VGA memory is needed.

Install the dependencies: xf86-input-vmmouse, xf86-video-vmware, and mesa.

If booting into a graphical target you are almost done. /etc/xdg/autostart/vmware-user.desktop will get started which will setup most of the things needed to work with the Virtual Machine.

However, if booting into multi-user.target or using an uncommon setup (e.g. multiple monitors), then vmtoolsd.service needs to be enabled. In addition to this, edit:


to give permission for loading drivers.

Tips and tricks

Shared Folders with vmhgfs-fuse utility

Note: This functionality is only available with open-vm-tools v.10.x and kernel 4.x onwards and with VMware Workstation and Fusion.

Share a folder by selecting Edit virtual machine settings > Options > Shared Folders > Always enabled, and creating a new share.

You should be able to see the shared folders with:

$ vmware-hgfsclient

Now you can mount the folder:

# mkdir <shared folders root directory>
# vmhgfs-fuse -o allow_other -o auto_unmount .host:/<shared_folder> <shared folders root directory>

Other vmhgfs-fuse mount options can be viewed by using the -h input flag:

# vmhgfs-fuse -h

Add a rule for each share:

.host:/<shared_folder> /home/user1/shares fuse.vmhgfs-fuse defaults 0 0

Create and mount the Shared Folders:

# mkdir /home/user1/shares
# mount /home/user1/shares

Create the following .service:

/etc/systemd/system/<shared folders root directory>-<shared_folder>.service
Description=Load VMware shared folders

ExecStart=/usr/bin/vmhgfs-fuse -o allow_other -o auto_unmount .host:/<shared_folder> <shared folders root directory>


Make sure the <shared folders root directory> folder exists on your system. If this folder does not exist then you have to create it as the systemd service depends on it:

# mkdir -p <shared folders root directory>

Enable the <shared folders root directory>-<shared_folder>.service mount target.

If you want to mount all shared folders automatically then omit <shared_folder>.

Legacy Shared Folders with vmhgfs module

Note: This functionality is only available in VMware Workstation and Fusion

Share a folder by selecting Edit virtual machine settings > Options > Shared Folders > Always enabled, and creating a new share.

Make sure the vmhgfs driver is loaded:

# modprobe vmhgfs

You should be able to see the shared folders with:

$ vmware-hgfsclient

Now you can mount the folder:

# mkdir /home/user1/shares
# mount -n -t vmhgfs .host:/<shared_folder> /home/user1/shares

Enable at boot

Edit your mkinitcpio.conf like this:

 # cat /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
MODULES="... vmhgfs"

and then update your ramdisk:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

Add a rule for each share:

.host:/<shared_folder> /home/user1/shares vmhgfs defaults 0 0

Create and mount the Shared Folders:

# mkdir /home/user1/shares
# mount /home/user1/shares

For shared folders to be working you need to have loaded the vmhgfs driver. Simply create the following .services:

/etc/systemd/system/<shared folders root directory>-<shared_folder>.mount
Description=Load VMware shared folders

Where=<shared folders root directory>/<shared_folder>

/etc/systemd/system/<shared folders root directory>-<shared_folder>.automount
Description=Load VMware shared folders

Where=<shared folders root directory>/<shared_folder>


Make sure the <shared folders root directory> folder exists on your system. If this folder does not exist then you have to create it as the systemd scripts depend on it:

# mkdir -p <shared folders root directory>

Enable the mnt-hgfs.automount mount target.

If you want to mount all shared folders automatically then omit <shared_folder>.

Prune mlocate DB

When using mlocate, it is useless to index the shared directories in the locate DB. Therefore, add the directories to PRUNEPATHS in /etc/updatedb.

3D Acceleration

If not selected at guest creation time, 3D Acceleration can be enabled in: Edit virtual machine settings > Hardware > Display > Accelerate 3D graphics.

Note: Xorg can be very slow with 3D Acceleration enabled. It some cases, llvmpipe software rendering is much faster.

OpenGL and GLSL support

It is possible to update OpenGL and GLSL with new kernel modules, overriding Arch-controlled versions.

At the time of this writing, OpenGL 3.3 and GLSL 3.30 can be supported. See https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=202713 for more details.

Time synchronization

Configuring time synchronization in a Virtual Machine is important; fluctuations are bound to occur more easily in a guest, compared to a physical host. This is mostly due to the CPU being shared by more than one guest.

There are 2 options to set up time synchronization: the host or an external source.

Host machine as time source

To use the host as a time source, ensure vmtoolsd.service is started. Then enable the time synchronization:

# vmware-toolbox-cmd timesync enable

To synchronize the guest after suspending the host:

# hwclock --hctosys --localtime

External server as time source

See NTP.

Performance Tips

Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with VMware.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: Applies to all sort of VMs, particularly the last section (Discuss in Talk:VMware/Installing Arch as a guest#)

You can try the followings tips to improve the performance of your virtual machine.

Paravirtual SCSI adapter

VMware Paravirtual SCSI (PVSCSI) adapters are high-performance storage adapters for VMware ESXi that can result in greater throughput and lower CPU utilization. PVSCSI adapters are best suited for environments, where hardware or applications drive a very high amount of I/O throughput.

The SCSI adapter type VMware Paravirtual is available in the Virtual Machine settings.

If you do not have these settings in your virtual machine configuration you can still use the paravirtual SCSI adapter like this: Make sure that the paravirtual SCSI adapter is included in your kernel image. For this you have to modify your mkinitcpio.conf

 cat /etc/mkinitcpio.conf
MODULES="... vmw_pvscsi"

Rebuild your ramdisk:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

Shutdown your virtual machine and change the SCSI adapter your .vmx to the following:

scsi0.virtualDev = "pvscsi"

Paravirtual Network Adapater

VMware offers multiple network adapters for the guest OS. The default adapter used is usually the e1000 adapter, which emulates an Intel 82545EM Gigabit Ethernet NIC. This Intel adapter is generally compatible with the built-in drivers across most operating systems, include Arch.

For much more performance and additional features (such as multiqueue support), the VMware native vmxnet3 network adapter can be used.

Arch has the vmxnet3 kernel module available with a default install. Once enabled in mkinitcpio (or if it is auto-detected, check by running lsmod | grep vmxnet3 to see if it is loaded), shutdown and change the network adapter type in your .vmx file to the following:

ethernet0.virtualDev = "vmxnet3"

After changing network adapters, you will need to update your network and dhcpcd settings to use the new adapter name and mac address.

# dhcpcd new_interface_name
# systemctl enable dhcpcd@new_interface_name.service

You can get the new interface name by running ip link

Virtual Machine Settings

These settings could help improve the responsiveness of your virtual machine by reducing disk I/O at the expense of using more host memory. Vmware's KB1008885 provides the following optimizations:

mainMem.useNamedFile = "FALSE"
MemTrimRate = "0"
prefvmx.useRecommendedLockedMemSize = "TRUE"
MemAllowAutoScaleDown = "FALSE"
sched.mem.pshare.enable = "FALSE"
  • mainMem.useNamedFile: This will only work for Windows hosts and you can use this parameter if you experience high disk activity on shutting down the virtual machine. This will prevent VMware from creating a .vmem file. Use mainmem.backing = "swap" on Linux hosts instead.
  • MemTrimRate: This setting prevents that memory which was released by the guest is released on the host also.
  • prefvmx.useRecommendedLockedMemSize: Unfortunately there does not seem to exist a proper explanation for this setting. This setting seems to prevent the host system from swapping parts of the guest memory.
  • MemAllowAutoScaleDown: Prevents that VMware adjusts the memory size of the virtual machine in case it cannot allocate enough memory.
  • sched.mem.pshare.enable: If several virtual machines are running simultaneously VMware will try to locate identical pages and share these between the virtual machines. This can be very I/O intensive.

The following settings could also be set in the configuration dialog of VMware Workstation(Edit -> Preferences... -> Memory/Priority).

prefvmx.minVmMemPct = "100"
mainMem.partialLazySave = "FALSE"
mainMem.partialLazyRestore = "FALSE"
  • prefvmx.minVmMemPct: Sets amount of RAM in percent which should be reserved by the virtual machine on the host system. If you set this to a lower value it is possible to assign the virtual machine more memory than available in the host system. Be careful though in this case as this will most likely lead to excessive hard drive usage. If you have enough RAM then leave this value at 100.
  • mainMem.partialLazySave and mainMem.partialLazyRestore: These two parameters will prevent the virtual machine from creating partial snapshots for suspends. When you use these parameters and you suspend your virtual machine it will take a little bit longer, but there should be less hard disk activity from VMware trying to store this information.


Sound problems

If unacceptably loud and annoying sounds occur, then it may be related to the PC speaker. The issue may be resolved by globally disabling the PC speaker within the guest image:

 # echo "blacklist pcspkr" > /etc/modprobe.d/nobeep.conf

Mouse problems

The following problems may occur with mouse:

  • The automatic grab/ungrab feature will not automatically grab input when cursor enters the window
  • Missing buttons
  • Input lag
  • Clicks are not registered in some applications
  • Mouse cursor jumps when entering/leaving virtual machine
  • Mouse position jumps to where it left the guest VM

You can try to Remove the xf86-input-vmmouse package. xf86-input-vmmouse and xf86-input-libinput should be sufficient for handling mouse and keyboard inputs.

You can try to add these settings to your .vmx configuration file (Mouse position jumps to where it left the guest VM):

~/vmware/<Virtual Machine name>/<Virtual Machine name>.vmx
mouse.vusb.enable = "TRUE"
mouse.vusb.useBasicMouse = "FALSE"

VMware also attempts to automatically optimize mouse for gaming. If experiencing problems, disabling it is recommended: Edit > Preferences > Input > Optimize mouse for games: Never

Alternatively, attempting to disable the catchall event in 60-libinput.conf may be needed:

#Section "InputClass"
#        Identifier "libinput pointer catchall"
#        MatchIsPointer "on"
#        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
#        Driver "libinput"

Boot problems

Slow boot time

You may see the following errors if VMWare's memory hot-add feature is enabled.

  • add_memory failed
  • acpi_memory_enable_device() error

Disable the memory hot-add feature by setting mem.hotadd = "FALSE" to the .vmx.

~/vmware/<Virtual Machine name>/<Virtual Machine name>.vmx
mem.hotadd = "FALSE"

Shutdown/Reboot hangs

Adjust the timeout for the vmtoolsd service (defaults to 90 seconds).


Window resolution autofit problems

Autofit means that when you resize the VMWare window in the host, ArchLinux should automatically follow and readjust its resolution to fit the new size of the host window.

Potential solution 1

Make sure you have enabled autofit.

For VMware Worksation you can find the setting in: View -> Autosize -> Autofit Guest

Potential solution 2

For some reason autofit requires packages gtkmm and gtk2, so you should check that you have them installed. If you don't have X windows installed or you are using a non GTK-based desktop environment such as KDE, you might have to install them manually.

Potential solution 3

You may need to add the modules to mkinitcpio.conf.

MODULES="vsock vmw_vsock_vmci_transport vmw_balloon vmw_vmci vmwgfx"

Do not forget to run:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

Potential solution 4

Enable vmtoolsd.service.

Drag and drop, copy/paste

The drag-and-drop (copy/paste) feature requires both open-vm-tools and gtkmm packages to be installed in order to work.

/etc/xdg/autostart/vmware-user.desktop may try to start vmware-user-suid-wrapper properly when you log in, but there is an unspecified relationship between it and gtkmm that causes it to silently fail. This is documented in FS#43159.

Problems when running as a shared VM on Workstation 11

Workstation 11 has a bug where vmware-hostd crashes if an Arch guest is running as a shared VM and vmtoolsd is running in the guest. A patch to open-vm-tools to work around the bug is here.

Shared folder not mounted after system upgrade

Most likely, this should only happen to open-vm-tools. Since the vmhgfs module belongs to open-vm-tools-dkmsAUR, the legacy filesystem driver would not be upgraded by using the command pacman -Syu. Therefor, open-vm-tools-dkmsAUR should be manually upgraded before the official repositories.

If a shared folder is not mounted after a system upgrade, then remove the shared filesystem automount, upgrade open-vm-tools-dkmsAUR, run pacman -Syu, and finally execute mkinitcpio -p linux. Don't forget to restore the filesystem automount.