Install vmware-tools from ESXi/vSphere 5 on Ubuntu 12.04

Let me clarify this: if it wasn’t required by our client, I would not touch VMware with a 3 meters pole.

Since VMware is a bloated and obsolete product, by default it won’t support your Ubuntu 12.04 virtual machines. VMware tools won’t compile there: too old and outdated to support kernel 3.x that exists since last year. Yep, it’s shit like this that makes our life miserable.

Luckly, some fellow sysadmin from elsewhere patched the old, outdated, crappy VMware tools and another one ported the patches so they could compile on modern systems.

Of course, none of this has been addressed by the vendor (VMware? I’m looking at you), so you need to get your patched kernel modules from a stranger in the forums. That’s exactly why you pay thousands of euros in VMware licenses: zero support and a tgz with (third-party) patched kernel modules on a forum.

Enough with the rant, how do we proceed? First thing first, you need to (try to) install the VMware Tools in the usual manner: select your VM, right click, select Guest -> Install VMware Tools, mount the CD-Rom, run the installer.

After the installer fails miserably to compile the kernel modules (did you install build-essential and linux-kernel-headers?), you need to download this file (it’s the tgz linked in the previous article: don’t worry, you’re only downloading kernel modules from a web forum, it’s safe!), then:

$ sudo -i
# cd /usr/lib/vmware-tools/lib/modules/sources/
# tar zxvf ~/patched-esxi*.tgz 

At this point you should be set, try to run again and see if the modules are compiled properly. If they are, rejoice! If not, blame VMware for they lazyness.


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