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VMware Tools are a set of utilities installed in the guest operating system that improve the control of the virtual machine making the administration easier, can increase the overall performance providing paravirtualized drivers and add also new features and capabilities (for example the snapshots with quiesciencing).

Usually VMware Tools are included with ESXi deployment, but starting with November 2nd, 2015 there are also a standalone version of VMware Tools that can be downloaded as a VMware Tools packages ZIP or TAR.GZ file (or also a VIB file). Downloads are available at this link.

But starting with vSphere 6.5, VMware Tools introduce some enhancements that improve the manageability experience:

  • Signed ISO images – VMware Tools are distributed as ISO images to be mounted to individual virtual machines to install or upgrade. To increase the security, in ESXi 6.5 the ISO images are cryptographically verified each time they are read. Additional files with appropriate signatures have been included in the VMware Tools distributions to help this verification.
  • Bifurcation of VMware Tools for Legacy and Current Guests – vSphere 6.5 delivers two versions of VMware Tools 10.1 and 10.0.12:
    • version 10.1, available for OEM-supported guest OS only.
    • version 10.0.12, offered as frozen VMware Tools that won’t receive further enhancements for guests no longer supported by their vendors.
  • Bundling of Tools for Most Popular Guests Only – ESXi 6.5 includes VMware Tools for the most widely used guest OSs but VMware provides also tools for other guests (download at https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware).

For more information see also: What Every vSphere Admin Must Know About VMware Tools.

Although a guest OS can run without VMware Tools, the management of power controls and other features are not available until you install VMware Tools. Shutdown or restart options, for example, are not available without VMware Tools. An improved graphic interface, a better mouse control and the ability to copy and paste files are some of main benefits you notice at first sight after the installation.

VMware Tools bundled with ESXi

VMware ESXi includes VMware Tools for supported Windows and Linux guest operating systems,and starting with vSphere 6.5 there are a “current” version and a legacy version (for old OS) as described before.

To quickly determine the version of Tools (and the build number printed in the UI) that was included with an ESXi release or patch, use this link: https://packages.vmware.com/tools/versions

For example, for latest distribution:

VMware vSphere version VMware Tools version VMware Tools build
6.5 10.1.0 10252
6.5U1 10.1.7 10279
6.5U2 10.2.1 10305
6.7 10.2.0 10304
6.7U1 10.3.5 10338

Note that signature verification for VMware Tools ISO images are enforced from ESXi 6.5. Signatures are present in VMware Tools version 10.1.0 and 10.0.12 which is bundled with ESXi 6.5.
VMware Tools version older than 10.1.0 or 10.0.12 do not have signatures. Using VMware Tools without signatures on ProductLocker will lead to VMware Tools version status being reported as guestToolsSupportedOld or guestToolsTooOld in vSphere APIs and UI.

For more information see the VMware KB 2147440 (Version status of older VMware Tools on ESXi 6.5)

Standalone VMware Tools

As announced during the VMworld session “INF5123 – Managing vSphere Deployments and Upgrades – Part 2”, VMware Tools 10.0.0 have been released, and (starting from 3rd September) are available in the MyVMware download page as a separated package. Separated and independent from VMware Fusion, Workstation and ESXi virtualization solutions!

For more information see: VMware Tools is now an independed package.

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 distribuite quickly as possible.

You can download the standalone version of VMware Tools as ZIP or TAR.GZ file or also MSI or VIB file packages.

Note that some version have been retired: Issues with VMware Tools Version 10.3.0 and vmxnet NIC

For Linux, there are three different distribution formats for VMware Tools:

  • TAR Tools are provided by VMware and installed via script
  • Operating System Specific Packages are binary packages created and hosted by VMware at packages.vmware.com
  • Open VM Tools are binary packages compiled by individual Linux vendors and included in almost all current distributions.

VMware Tools OSP

VMware Tools Operating System Specific Packages (OSP) are a packaging and distribution mechanism for VMware Tools that uses the native package formats and standards, such as rpm and deb, of the supported guest operating systems.

Offering an alternative to standard VMware Tools installation mechanisms, OSPs leverage your operating system’s native update mechanisms to automatically download, install, and manage VMware Tools as appropriate for that operating system. With OSPs, you manage VMware Tools from within the guest in the same way you would other standard software.

To install Open VM Tools in a CentOS virtual machine, access the system console and run the following command:

# yum install open-vm-tools

Open VM Tools

Open VM Tools (OVT, also referred as open-vm-tools) is an open source implementation of VMware Tools specific for Linux that allows to bundle the tools into the guest OS avoiding the management of VMware Tools lifecycle. Open VM Tools are delivered with rpm packages or with yum or apt.

When Linux distributions offer Open VM Tools, VMware recommends using those instead of installing the TAR version that is included with ESXi, especially now that paravirtualized Linux drivers are present in the upstream kernel

There are open-vm-tools (or OSP) available for the following operating systems:

  • Fedora 19 and later releases
  • Debian 7.x and later releases
  • openSUSE 11.x and later releases
  • Recent Ubuntu releases (12.04 LTS, 13.10 and later)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0 and later releases
  • CentOS 7.0 and later releases
  • Oracle Linux 7.0 and later releases
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP4, 12 and later releases
Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2904 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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