VMware/Installing Arch as a guest

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This article handles installing Archlinux in a VMware-based virtual environment such as VMware ESX, VMware Workstation/Fusion and VMware Player.

VMware Tools versus Open-VM-Tools

VMware Tools for linux exists in 2 forms: the official VMware Tools and Open-VM-Tools. VMware Tools is based on a stable snapshot of Open-VM-Tools. Open-VM-Tools contains more experimental code and features. The official VMware Tools are not available for Archlinux.

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 adapter en scsi adapter are part of the linux kernel, and VMware Tools is only needed for extra features and support for the "old" vmxnet adapter.

Open-VM-Tools modules

The open-vm-tools-modules package contains the following modules:

  • vmblock: kernel filesystem module, enables drag&drop functionality between the host system and the virtual machine in VMware Workstation/Fusion.
  • vmhgfs: kernel filesystem module, enables file/directory sharing between the host system and the virtual machine in VMware Workstation/Fusion.
  • vmsync: experimental filesystem sync driver, enables filesystem quiescing when creating backups and snapshots.
  • vmci: virtual machine communication interface, high performance interface between virtual machines on the same host and between virtual machines and the host itself.
  • vsock: part of vmci.
  • vmxnet: driver for the old vmxnet netwerk-adapter.

Open-VM-Tools utilities

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

  • vmtoolsd: service responsible for the virtual machine status report.
  • vmware-check-vm: tool to check whether a utility has been started on a physical or virtual machine.
  • vmware-xferlogs: Dumps logging/debugging information to the virtual machine logfile.
  • vmware-toolbox-cmd: tool to obtain virtual machine information of the host such as statistics,...
  • vmware-user-suid-wrapper: tool to enable clipboard sharing (copy/paste) between host and virtual machine.

Installing Open-VM-Tools

Install the open-vm-tools and the open-vm-tools-modules package in the [community] repository.

# pacman -S open-vm-tools open-vm-tools-modules

Start the service and enable it at boot:

# systemctl start vmtoolsd
# systemctl enable vmtoolsd

The open-vm-tools reads the file /etc/arch-release which is empty:

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

Installing the official VMware Tools

Install the ifconfig(1) program for the installer to work properly:

# pacman -S net-tools

Install Linux kernel headers for the installer to work properly:

# pacman -S linux-headers
# cd /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/build/include/linux
# ln -sv ../generated/uapi/linux/version.h

Create bogus init directories for the installer to work properly:

# for x in `seq 0 6`; do mkdir -pv /etc/init.d/rc$x.d; done

Mount the VMware Tools virtual CDROM when offered:

# mount /dev/cdrom /mnt

Extract the tarball:

# cd /root
# tar zxf /mnt/VMwareTools*.tar.gz
# cd vmware-tools-distrib

Make sure you have the development tools installed to build the kernel modules

  1. pacman -S base-devel

Run the installer and use the default answers for all questions:

 # ./vmware-install.pl

You can safely ignore the following build failures:

  • VMNEXT 3 virtual network card
  • "Warning: This script could not find mkinitrd or updatte-initramfs and cannot remake the initrd file!"

Reboot your computer:

# systemctl reboot

Log in and start the VMware Tools:

# /etc/init.d/rc6.d/K99vmware-tools start

Time synchronization

Configuring time synchronization in a virtual machine is important: fluctuations are bound to occur more easily in a virtual machine compared to a physical host. This is mostly due to the fact that the CPU is shared by more than one virtual machine.

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

Host machine as time source

To use the host as a time source (for example in an ESX server), run the following command (one time is enough):

vmware-toolbox-cmd timesync enable

To synchronize your guest clock with the host after your host machine wakes up from sleeping (like a laptop computer):

sudo hwclock --hctosys --localtime

I run the above command every time I wake up my sleeping laptop and resume using Arch Linux inside the VMWare Player.

External server as time source

See NTP.

Xorg configuration

Note: To use Xorg in a virtual machine, a minimum of 32MB VGA memory is needed, and the VMware hardware version has to be > 8, version 7 is no longer functioning correctly.

Install the following dependencies:

pacman -S xf86-input-vmmouse xf86-video-vmware svga-dri

Configure the vmwgfx module to load at boot.

Create the following file:

 Section "Device"
        Identifier "Card0"
        Driver     "vmware"

Afterwards, a reboot is required.

If you're booting into a graphical target you're 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.

If you're booting into multi-user.target then you need to enable the vmtoolsd.service:

 # systemctl enable vmtoolsd.service

Enable 3d accleration

To enable 3d acceleration go to Edit virtual machine settings -> Hardware -> Display and enable the checkbox for Accelerate 3D graphics

Paravirtual SCSI-Adapter

Due to less overhead the paravirtual scsi-adapter can give a substantial performance boost in ESX.

This can be used as follows: open the /etc/mkinitcpio.conf file and add the following to the MODULES array:


Afterwards, run the command:

mkinitcpio -p linux

Shutdown the virtual machine and change the scsi-adapter type to: VMware Paravirtual. It's safe to ignore the warning that'll pop up.


The VMCI interface is enabled by default in VMware Workstation and Fusion. In VMware ESX the interface is restricted, which means that communication is only possible between ESX and the virtual machine, not between virtual machines themselves. This can be changed in the Virtual Machine settings, traffic between ESX and the Virtual Machine can not be disabled.


Drag and Drop from files, from VMware Workstation/Fusion into the Virtual Machines, can be disabled by editing /etc/conf.d/open-vm-tools:



Install the following package (it is required for copy/paste but not listed as a dependency as reported here)

pacman -S gtkmm

Run the following command after starting X (or add it to your ~/.xinitrc file) to automatically synchronize your X clipboard with the host's. This allows you to copy text from your virtual machine and paste it in the host, and vice versa.


If you get the following error (which, in rare cases, you might have to run `strace vmware-user-suid-wrapper` to see it!)

vmware-user: could not open /proc/fs/vmblock/dev

you need to first insert the vmblock module into your kernel.

sudo modprobe vmblock

To have the module loaded at boot, see Kernel Modules#Loading.

Rebuilding the vmblock module

If your kernel already has the vmblock module loaded,

lsmod | grep vmblock

and vmware-user-suid-wrapper still doesn't work, then you'll have to build the open-vm-tools-modules package yourself from the Arch Build System:

sudo abs community/open-vm-tools-modules
cp -R /var/abs/community/open-vm-tools-modules/ .
cd ./open-vm-tools-modules/
makepkg -s
pacman -U open-vm-tools-modules-*.xz

Afterwards, restart your machine for the newly rebuilt & re-installed modules to take effect!

Shared Folders with the Host

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

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

Add the following rule to /etc/fstab (adjust the uid/gid where 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

Create the mount directories and Shared Folders:

mkdir /mnt/shared
mount /mnt/shared

Temporary mounts are also possible:

mount -t -v -o rw .host:/shared_folder /mnt/shared
Note: an alternative way, tested on VMware player
.host:/ /mnt/shared vmhgfs defaults 0 0
mount -t vmhgfs .host:/ /mnt/shared

Enable shared folders at boot

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

Description=Load VMware shared folders


Description=Load VMware shared folders



Make sure that the folder /mnt/hgfs exists:

 # mkdir -p /mnt/hgfs

Enable the mount target with:

 # systemctl enable mnt-hgfs.automount

Prune mlocate DB

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

Trouble shooting

Mouse not working as expected

If you have the problem that mouse clicks are not registered in some programs you can try the following: edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-evdev.conf and comment out the section with the identifier evdev pointer catchall [xf86-input-vmmouse does not work expected]

Network connection not working

Add the following line to your .vmx file:

 ethernet0.virtualDev = "vmxnet3"

More informations about the network adpater types can be found on the following page: Choosing a network adapter for your virtual machine