VMware/Installing Arch as a guest

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This article will explain how to install Arch Linux inside a virtual machine (e.g. in VMware Workstation on Windows or VMware Fusion on Mac OS X).

If using systemd, see: Installing Arch Linux in VMware (systemd).

You may also be interested in installing VMware in Arch.

VMware Tools

The VMware Tools improve networking capability, cut and paste between the host and the guest under X, or access of the directories on host from the guest (called shared folders by VMware). They also provide a set of tools to access advanced options of the Virtual Machine, including shrinking and freeing unnecessary space in the virtual hard drives

Install the open-vm-tools package from [community]:

pacman -S open-vm-tools

and start VMware tools with:

/etc/rc.d/open-vm-tools start

To start them automatically at boot, add the daemon to the DAEMONS array in rc.conf.

DAEMONS=( ... open-vm-tools ... )

To start the vmware toolbox (allows you to configure time synchronization, connect or disconnect devices, shrink the hard disk freeing unnecessary space, etc), run the following command:

# vmware-toolbox
Note: In previous versions, starting this daemon was not strictly necessary; mouse integration, copy/paste and drag/drop under X would still work, as long as vmware-user was executed. This is no longer the case. Starting with version 2010.07.25 of open-vm-tools, vmware-user is no longer available and its functionality is implemented as a plugin managed by a new daemon (vmtoolsd).
Note: You may find get the following error when starting open-vm-tools:
ERROR: could not insert 'vmhgfs': Invalid argument
In this case, the solution is to build the open-vm-tools-modules package with ABS against the currently installed kernel. This is discussed here.

Installing X

The necessary Xorg packages can be installed with:

# pacman -S xorg-server xf86-input-vmmouse xf86-video-vmware svga-dri

and the fallback X driver:

# pacman -S xf86-video-vesa

Add de vmwgfx module to the MODULES array in rc.conf.

# MODULES = (... vmwgfx ...)

Please notice: the virtual machine should have at least 32MB VGA memory !

Enable Unity

Unity is installed by default, but needs a bit of work to get it running. First, make sure that open-vm-tools is installed and loaded on startup. If needed, add open-vm-tools to the DAEMONS list.

Log out and restart. Unity will work. Unfortunately at the moment, menus may not display properly, so launch a terminal, switch to Unity and use the terminal to launch whatever you want. If you get an error like:

error while loading shared libraries: libgtkmm-2.4.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Install gtkmm:

pacman -S gtkmm

Shared Folders with the Host

Create a new Shared Folder by selecting VM -> Settings... from the VMware Workstation menu. Select the Options tab and then Shared Folder. Check the Always enabled option and create a new share. For Windows XP you can create a share with the Name C and the Host Path C:\.

Then add a line like the following to your /etc/fstab file (changing uid/gid as needed) for each shared folder:

.host:/shared_folder /mnt/shared vmhgfs defaults,user,ttl=5,uid=root,gid=root,fmask=0133,dmask=0022 0 0

Make the mount directories and mount the Shared Folders:

mkdir /mnt/shared
mount /mnt/shared

Final touch

Prune mlocate DB

It is useless to add the shared directories to the locate DB. Add the shared directories to PRUNEPATHS in /etc/updatedb.

Paravirtualization

Description

Paravirtualization (PV) is a virtualization feature\technique that allows some of the processing, which in an ideal virtualized environment happens inside the virtualization to be done outside of the virtualized context. This will, in most cases, greatly improve the base line performance of a virtual machine. Although in some cases, depending on many variables, it will not.

With the to-date distributions of Arch, PV works out of the box.

On newer x86 and x86-64 CPU models (Both AMD and Intel) PV is implemented as a hardware feature and no additional configuration is required. For older CPU models, You must enable the deprecated VMI protocol that introduces modifications to the guest kernel that makes it aware of the fact that it is virtualized. (Microsoft refers to this as an Enlightened Guest OS)

VMI Retired

VMWare PV was once implemented as the VMI (Virtual Machine Interface) standard.

In 2009, VMware announced they would stop supporting VMI in 2011. The Linux kernel should remove the VMI code around version 2.6.37. VMI still remains useful since it allows for PV on older CPUs and Arch Linux is well built for a Linux VM Guest on hosts with low resources. VMI offers a tremendous impact on the VM performance under these circumstances.

In updated vmware products (Workstation 7+ and ESX 4+) VMI is retired. The functionality that was implemented in VMI and not covered by the improvements in modern CPUs is now implemented by the newer VMCI standard. Again, on to-date Arch Linux and open-vm-tools installations, VMCI works OOB and should not pose any problems. If you do encounter issues then the Vmware Community forums will offer all the aid you need.

On Vmware Workstation products VMCI is enabled by default. On Vmware ESX products VMCI is disabled by default on the basis that it COULD pose a security risk. You can enable or disable VMCI through the VM settings screen. VMCI provides extra features, as well as a generic platform, for the area of Guest-To-Host communication.

VMI Installation

You must install the open-vm-tools before enabling VMI.

To enable VMI click on Settings... from the VM menu. Select the Processors device and enable VMWare kernel paravirtualization.

Once Arch is up and running you can check if you have VMI enabled or not by running the following command:

$ dmesg | grep vmi

If VMI is enabled you should see an output such as:

Booting paravirtualized kernel on vmi [deprecated]
vmi: registering clock event vmi-timer. mult=9202214 shift=22
vmi: registering clock event vmi-timer. mult=9202214 shift=22
vmi: registering clock source khz=2193979
Switching to clocksource vmi-timer

VMCI Installation

To verify that VMCI is up and running, run the following command:

$ dmesg | grep vmci

If VMCI is enabled you should see an output such as:

Probing for vmci/PCI.
vmci 0000:00:07.7: PCI INT A -> GSI (level, low) -> IRQ 16
Found vmci/PCI at 0x1080, irq 16.
Registered vmci device.

Troubleshooting

Networking

If there is a problem with networking, it is possible that the module pcnet32 steals the network interface from VMware, disabling it works:

MODULES=(!pcnet32 ...)

Keyboard/Mouse not working in X

If you have no keyboard or mouse in X make sure you don't have the following line in the ServerFlags section of your Xorg configuration. Consult Xorg#InputClasses for further assistance:

Remove Option "AutoAddDevices" "False"