vmware tools for ESX Server 3.5

John Nielsen lists at jnielsen.net
Thu Sep 4 15:25:32 UTC 2008

On Thursday 04 September 2008, B. Cook wrote:
> On Sep 3, 2008, at 12:11 PM, John Nielsen wrote:
> > On Wednesday 03 September 2008, B. Cook wrote:
> >> I am setting up FreeBSD 7.0 and he is asking about the vmware-tools.
> >>
> >> Ports has some things, but I am not sure what I need, and neither
> >> is he.
> >>
> >> Can anyone tell me what it needs?
> >
> > I usually create VM's with the Intel gigabit vNIC's which can use
> > FreeBSD's "em" driver. Since Xorg includes the vmmouse and vmware
> > video
> > drivers already, the main things you should be looking for are the
> > memory "balloon" driver and the guestd service. In the past I have
> > gotten
> > these to work by using the supplied tools (on the CD image that
> > is "inserted" when you select "Install VMware tools" from the host).
> > However it is much easier nowadays to use the free version in
> > ports/emulators/open-vm-tools (or open-vm-tools-nox11).
> >
> > JN
> Well this is the other way..
> FreeBSD is the guest not the host.

What I said applies to FreeBSD running as a guest VM. (You don't install 
VMware tools on a host.)

> This is what the owner of the cluster is telling me:
> The tools aren't absolutely necessary but if we can we always install
> them in guest machines.
> They allow the VMWare server to gracefully shutdown the guest

That's guestd. The VMware-supplied version actually does a "shutdown -h" for 
power-down. On Linux that works but on FreeBSD it simply halts the OS so 
you have to power down the VM yourself. The open-vm-tools power down 

> improve 
> memory management

That's the "balloon" memctl driver. It actually improves memory management 
for the host by asking the guest (where it is running) to feed it available 
memory, which the host can then allocate to other VM's if needed.

> replace the virtual NIC with a higher performance 
> one

That applies to the vmxnet/lance type of virtual NIC. I've heard of people 
getting the VMware-supplied driver running under FreeBSD, but I've never 
messed with it. The le(4) driver does fine. Or you can do as I suggested 
and switch your virtual NIC to an intel one (which is the default for 
64-bit VM's, may require editing the .vmx file for 32-bit VM's) which will 
use the em(4) driver.

> replace the video driver (if you are running a GUI which we 
> aren't in this case.)

The "vmware" video driver is already included in current versions of Xorg, 
as is the "vmmouse" input driver which will synch the mouse pointer with 
the viewer's external session and release the cursor when it reaches the 

> etc 

I think he covered just about everything. :)

> But this machine is running fine, including the nightly snapshots.

I would still advise you to install some form of VMware tools. Again my 
preferences is for open-vm-tools.

> Below is the dmesg from the guest:
> le0: <AMD PCnet-PCI> port 0x1400-0x147f irq 18 at device 17.0 on pci0
> le0: 16 receive buffers, 4 transmit buffers
> le0: Ethernet address: 00:50:56:83:49:9d

You may want to look at switching to the Intel virtual nic in the VM's 
configuration. (You would then also need to change any ifconfig_le0 entries 
in the guest's /etc/rc.conf to ifconfig_em0). For Workstation (and IIRC 
it's the same for Server and ESX) you do this by changing (or adding) a 
line like this:
	ethernet0.virtualDev = "e1000"
in the config (.vmx) file for the VM.


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