VMware/Installing Arch as a guest

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Revision as of 13:38, 1 December 2013 by Nsmathew (talk | contribs) (Added location for downloading VMWare tools ISO for VMWare player as this does not come with the installation in all cases. Also provide 2 links to the VMWare community pages which is helpful in case vmci and vmhgfs modules fail to build.)
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zh-CN:Installing Arch Linux in VMware Template:Article summary start Template:Article summary text Template:Article summary heading Template:Article summary wiki Template:Article summary wiki Template:Article summary end This article handles installing Archlinux in a VMware-based virtual environment such as VMware ESX, VMware Workstation/Fusion and VMware Player.

Drivers included in the Linux kernel

  • vmw_balloon (VMware Balloon Driver): This is VMware physical memory management driver which 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. The balloon can also be deflated to allow the guest to use more physical memory. If this driver is loaded memory which is deallocated in the virtual machine can be reused in the host machine. Without this driver the memory would be allocated to the guest until the guest is terminated.
  • vmw_pvscsi (VMware PVSCSI driver support): This driver supports VMware's para virtualized SCSI HBA.
  • vmw_vmci (VMware VMCI Driver): This is VMware's Virtual Machine Communication Interface. It enables high-speed communication between host and guest in a virtual environment via the VMCI virtual device.
  • vmw_vsock_vmci_transport (VMware VMCI transport for Virtual Sockets, Alias: vmware_vsock): This module implements a VMCI transport for Virtual Sockets. Enable this transport if your Virtual Machine runs on a VMware hypervisor.
  • vmwgfx (DRM driver for VMware Virtual GPU): Choose this option if you would like to run 3D acceleration in a VMware virtual machine. This is a KMS enabled DRM driver for the VMware SVGA2 virtual hardware.
  • vmxnet3 (VMware VMXNET3 ethernet driver): This driver supports VMware's vmxnet3 virtual ethernet NIC.

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-dkms 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-dkms package from the official repositories.

Build the dkms modules as the post install message suggests. Note that the post install message might not display the 100% correct version.

dkms add open-vm-tools/2013.04.16
dkms install -m open-vm-tools -v 2013.04.16 -k $(uname -r)

Instead of dkms install you can use the following command if you don't mind that only the specific version of open-vm-tools get installed:

 dkms autoinstall -k `uname -r`

If you upgrade to a newer version of open-vm-tools-dkms you can uninstall the old version with:

 dkms remove open-vm-tools/<version> --all 
Note: If the build fails, you can try using the linux-lts kernel instead of the most recent kernel version.

As of September 2013, open-vm-tools doesn't compile against Linux 3.11.

Patches are floating around: here.

Start the service and enable it at boot if you wish:

# 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
Note: There is a bug in vmtoolsd where the service is not able to properly shut down and hangs for 60 seconds. A quick workaround is described here.

Installing the official VMware tools

Install the ifconfig(1) program for the installer to work properly from net-tools.

Install Linux kernel headers (linux-headers) for the installer to work properly:

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

Mount the VMware Tools virtual CDROM when offered:

# mount /dev/cdrom /mnt

For VMware Player, if the installation does not include the ISO then the same can be downloaded from this location

Extract the tarball:

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

Make sure you have the base-devel installed, which provides the development tools to build the kernel modules.

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
Note: In case the vmci and vmhgfs modules fail to build then try the solutions and patches mentioned here and here

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 dependencies xf86-input-vmmouse and 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 Acceleration

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

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


Copy and paste

Install gtkmm since it is required for copy/paste but not listed as a dependency as reported here.

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:

# 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 ic|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

There is an issue with mouse input when running X11 in a VMware host. If you experience one or more of the following:

  • the automatic grab/ungrab feature of VMware will not automatically grab input when the cursor enters the window
  • mouse input lag
  • mouse clicks are not registered in some programs

You may need to disable the catch-all evdev driver in X11: 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].

Back and forward mouse buttons not working

Try to add the following line to your .vmx file:

 mouse.vusb.enable = "TRUE"

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