Although most VMware ESX VM’s I see run VMware Tools there is the occasional one that comes along from time to time that for some unknown reason doesn’t have it installed.
This may be due to an oversight of the person originally installing the VM or could be that the person didn’t know to install it. Even if they did know maybe they weren’t aware of the extra benefits you and your VM receives when it is installed.
Here’s a summary of the benefits received by installing VMware Tools on your Guest OS:
- Time Synchronisation: VMware Tools gives the VM the ability to synchronise its time with the host ESX server. Every second the Guests OS will check with the ESX host that its time matches – if it isn’t it synchronises itself with the host. There is a mixed school of thought on this. Some people select this option within VMTools and others let the VM Synchronise its time against an internal time source such as a domain controller in Windows environments.
- Graphics Performance: VMware Tools installs a SVGA driver that increases video refresh.
- Efficient Memory Allocation: A memory control driver that is installed with VMware Tools provides increased efficiency in memory allocation.
- Accelerated Mouse Driver: For increased mouse responsiveness.
- Optimized SCSI Driver: A BusLogic SCSI driver provides faster I/O performance for some guest OS’s.
- Run Scripts: Scripts can be defined to run after particular events such as the VM starting up or shutting down.
- Shared Folders: such folders provides an “an easy way to share files between two virtual machines and between a virtual machine and the host operating system, regardless of the type of operating systems in the host and virtual machines. “
- Shrink the Virtual Disk: By reducing the amount of disk space a VM’s virtual disk takes up by removing empty unused space will lead to more usable storage on your hosts volume.
- Connect External Devices: You can connect external media devices such as a floppy (who uses those anymore) or CD/DVD drive. These appear as a virtual device when presented within the guest OS. Note: USB drives aren’t able to be shared from the host ESX server to a VM.
- Guest Shutdown without Logging On: With VMware Tools installed you are able to nicely shutdown or reboot a VM without even logging onto the VM’s OS. This is done via the VMware Infrastructure Client (VIC) interface:
Other cool stuff that VMware Tools allows you to do:
From within the VIC you can define an automatic VM Start-up and Shutdown priority order (ie: if and in what order guests will start-up and shut down with the ESX host). If an automatic start-up order is used then instead of relying on the pre-defined elapsed time between VMs starting you can have the next VM start when it is detected that the previous guests VMware Tools has started. This can save time and take some of the guess work out of how long to leave between starting the VMs.
As you can see there is an overwhelming number of reasons to install VMware Tools. If you’re looking at installing VMware Tools on a Linux based guest then it’s worth having a look at David Davis’s guide – linked below.
Hope this brief summary was useful.
Installing VMware Tools on Linux – by David Davis