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Three years ago, VMware has decided to make VMware Tools an independent package, with a separate lifecycle and available in the MyVMware download page as a separated package. Separated and independent from VMware Fusion, Workstation and ESXi virtualization solutions!

Seems good, but on vSphere environment, this can make some confusion considering that you have the VMware Tools bundled with ESXi and the standalone VMware Tools usually with a bigger version and independent also by the version of vSphere!

The latest available version of standalone VMware Tools is 10.3.0, released on July 2018 (see the release notes).

But this release of VMware Tools 10.3.0 is deprecated due to a VMXNET3 driver related issue.

VMware KB 57796 (VMware Tools Version 10.3.0 Recall and Workaround Recommendations) describe the issue, the cause, and the cases where you can have big problems.

VMware has been made aware of issues in some vSphere ESXi 6.5 configurations with the VMXNET3 network driver for Windows that was released with VMware Tools 10.3.0.
As a result, VMware has recalled the VMware Tools 10.3.0 release. This release has also been removed from the VMware Downloads page.

In certain configurations, the VMXNET3 driver released with VMware Tools 10.3.0 can result in a Purple Screen of the Death (PSOD) or guest network connectivity loss.

The conditions where the issue can happen are (all are required):

  • vSphere ESXi 6.5 hosts
  • VM Hardware Version 13 (the latest for ESXi 6.5)
  • Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 or higher guest OS
  • VMware Tools 10.3.0 installed in the guest
  • Virtual NIC vmxnet3

So seems that there are no problems with VMware vSphere 6.7 and, at least this is a good new.

But it’s not good to see again several issues with vmxnet3 virtual adapter, really a better code management it’s needed to avoid problems on the most common and most used drivers.

If you have vSphere 6.5 you probably are using virtual hardware 13 and probably also later Windows OS…. in this case, then VMware recommends uninstalling VMware Tools 10.3.0 and then reinstalling VMware Tools 10.2.5. VMware Tools 10.2.5 is available from the VMware Downloads page.

Note (Sep, 12): VMware has released a new version, and recommends upgrading to VMware Tools 10.3.2 immediately.

For other configurations, no immediate action is required.

VMware will be releasing a revised version of the VMware Tools 10.3 family as soon as is feasible. VMware recommends that any VMs running VMware Tools 10.3.0 be upgraded to the new release when applicable.

Apart of the vmxnet3 driver, maybe also the idea to have standalone VMware Tools valid cross versions and cross products it’s not, maybe, the best idea…

VMware has decided that there isn’t any specific reason that VMware Tools builds should be tied to vSphere releases/ESXi builds. In this new way, new key features/updates can be distributed quickly as possible.

But, in my opinion, provide them with the virtualization product, and maybe with version specific only for vSphere, could enforce a better control of specific functions and a better testing phase. Have a vSphere specific VMware Tools branch can also permit a better lifecycle and have ONLY VMware Tools features specifically for a vSphere environment.

Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2838 Posts)

Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-18. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-18. Nutanix NTC 2014-18. PernixPro 2014-16. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.


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