A few VMware Tools facts every vSphere administrator should know

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  • The VMware Tools package for the main guest OS is included with ESXi, but the rest are shipped separately from the platform distributions.
  • Standard VMware Tools that are suitable for most Windows and Linux operating systems can be updated through the VMware Update Manager (VUM). They roll in the form of VIB-packages called “tools light”.
  • The traditional approach to updating VMware Tools on multiple VMware ESXi hosts is to use a common repository for the VMware Update Manager, which rolls updates to the servers. A more modern approach is to use the Auto Deploy mechanism   to deploy stateless hosts that take the actual versions of VMware Tools directly from  the VMware online repository.
  • Versions of VMware Tools consist of two releases VMware Tools 10.1.x and VMware Tools 10.0.x  (these are two different ISO images). Version 10.1.x is an active fork for modern guest systems (now 10.1.15 is relevant), and 10.0.12 is a frozen branch, which is intended for obsolete OSes that are no longer updated. That is, the upgrade from the 10.0.9 version is 10.1.

  • Almost all Linux distributions come with an integrated version of  Open VM Tools.
  • ISO-files VMware Tools are now provided with checksum files, by which you can verify the correspondence of packages to the authenticity of their origin by reconciling hashes. Therefore, you must be careful when unpacking the components of the package, and do not remove anything from it.
  • All new versions of VMware Tools are backward compatible with all versions of VMware ESXi, which are younger than at least one generation. This can be seen by looking at  VMware Interoperability Matrix:

  • For Linux, there are 3 types of VMware Tools (more details here ):
    • Operating System Specific Packages (OSP) – packages that are available  on the VMware website  (you can download / update them without authentication) that contain the same components that are in the ISO images that come with VMware ESXi distributions. This method of supplying VMware Tools for Linux is already somewhat outdated and is used for old guest OSs.
    • Open VM Tools (OVT) are VMware Tools open source packages that integrate into most modern Linux distributions. Accordingly, when installing such a guest OS in a virtual machine, the VMware Tools package will be installed there. The OVT source code is available to everyone  in the repository on GitHub  but only those OVTs that come with Linux distributions are officially supported. If you compiled them yourself note, there will be no support from VMware.
    • TAR Tools – they are provided by VMware and installed through the script. But VMware recommends using OVT.
  • Virtual machines with Windows use paravirtualized storage and network adapter drivers, which improves the interaction between the guest OS and the corresponding resources. That’s why after the update the machine needs to reboot.
  • To unify the deployment of VMware Tools, you need to configure a centralized repository and configure ESXi hosts so that they take the latest versions of the tools from there.
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