Posted by: reformedmusings | August 15, 2008

What does VMWare Tools do?

I noticed that a few folks have done Internet searches on exactly this question. VMWare answers this in their manual for WMWorkstation 6.x (page 113-115):

VMware Tools is a suite of utilities that enhances the performance of the virtual
machine’s guest operating system and improves management of the virtual machine.
Installing VMware Tools in the guest operating system is vital. Although the guest
operating system can run without VMware Tools, you lose important functionality and

When you install VMware Tools, you install:

VMware Tools service. The program file is called VMwareService.exe on
Windows guests and vmware-guestd on Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris guests.
This service performs various duties within the guest operating system:

-Passes messages from the host operating system to the guest operating
-Executes commands in the operating system to cleanly shut down or restart a
Linux, FreeBSD, or Solaris system when you select power operations in
-Sends a heartbeat to a VMware Server, if you use the virtual machine with
VMware Server.
-On Windows guests, grabs and releases the mouse cursor.
-On Windows guests, fits the guest’s screen resolution to the host’s and vice
-Synchronizes the time in the guest operating system with the time in the host
operating system.
-Runs scripts that help automate guest operating system operations. The
scripts run when the virtual machine’s power state changes.

The service starts when the guest operating system boots.

NOTE: The VMware Tools service is not installed on NetWare operating systems.
Instead, the vmwtool program is installed. It synchronizes time and allows you to
turn the CPU idler on or off. See “Using the System Console to Configure VMware
Tools in a NetWare Guest Operating System” on page 139.

A set of VMware device drivers. These drivers include:

-SVGA display driver that provides high display resolution and significantly
faster overall graphics performance.
-The vmxnet networking driver for some guest operating systems.
-BusLogic SCSI driver for some guest operating systems.
-VMware mouse driver.
-A kernel module for handling shared folders, called hgfs.sys on Windows
and vmhgfs on Linux and Solaris.

VMware user process. The program file is called VMwareUser.exe on Windows
guests and vmware-user on Linux and Solaris guests.
This service performs the following tasks within the guest operating system:

-Enables you to copy and paste text between the guest and host operating
systems, and copy and paste files between the host operating systems and
Windows, Linux, and Solaris guest operating systems.
-Enables you to drag and drop files between the host operating systems and
Windows, Linux, and Solaris guest operating systems.
-On Linux and Solaris guests, grabs and releases the mouse cursor when the
SVGA driver is not installed.
-On Linux and Solaris guests, fits the guest’s screen resolution to the host’s.

NOTE: The VMware Tools user process is not installed on NetWare operating
systems. Instead, the vmwtool program is installed. It controls the grabbing and
releasing of the mouse cursor. It also allows you copy and paste text. You cannot
drag and drop or copy and paste files between hosts and NetWare guest operating

VMware Tools control panel. The Tools control panel lets you modify settings,
shrink virtual disks, and connect and disconnect virtual devices.

So, in short, it significantly enhances the speed and efficiency of your guest machine. It also adds capabilities. VMWare strongly recommends that you install VMWare Tools in all of your virtual machines, and I fully agree with this recommendation.

Lastly, note that you must have the guest operating system installed and running in the virtual machine in order to install VMWare Tools. It literally installs itself into the guest operating system.

I hope that this helps some folks.


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