Howto: Install VMware Tools on Windows 2008 Server Core

I had just performed my first Windows 2008 Server Core installation on VMware Workstation, and wanted to install the VMware tools to see if the VMs performance would increase.

Logged in as Administator I started installing the tools the normal way – from inside VMware Workstation I selected VM – Install VMware Tools.

Nothing happened. Since VMTools is a GUI installation, and Server Core has no GUI, I was pretty unsure of how to proceed.

I came across Jeff’s post that pointed me in the right direction. Selecting VM – Install VMware Tools was correct, but I then had to change to D:\ (my DVD drive letter) and type setup to start the installer.

The installer was actually GUI based, which I thought was weird. It was pretty much a Next – Next – Next type installation.

I didn’t have to kill RUNDLL like Jeff did. Maybe this was a bug that was fixed in the RTM version of Windows 2008.

Geert says the syntax for installing the VMware Tools on Server Core on ESX 3.0 is:

msiexec.exe /i “<path to VMware Tools.msi>” /qn

while Michael says by way of Mike’s blog:

โ€œFor those unfamiliar with Server Core it is a command line only version of Windows Server 2008 (formerly Longhorn). I have been trying to install this on ESX 3.0. On the GUI version of Windows 2008 server, VMWare tools must be installed to get the NIC working. Server Core however is command line only. VMWareTools is a GUI installation so this is not an option for Server Core.

The workaround is to transfer VMWareTools (contained in a file called windows.iso) from your ESX server to a local drive. This can be done using Winscp. Use Virtual Center to mount the windows.iso file as a CDROM drive in the Server Core VM. The driver files are located in \Program Files\VMWare\VMWare Tools\Drivers\VMXNet\w2k of the windows.iso file. The command used to install the drivers is

C:\Windows\System32>pnputil -i -a vmxnet.inf
Microsoft PnP Utility
Processing inf : vmxnet.inf
Successfully installed the driver on a device on the system.
Driver package added successfully.
Published name : oem2.inf

Next check the installation of the driver. Vmxnet should be displayed near the end of the list.

C:\Windows\System32>driverquery
ws2ifsl Winsock IFS driver Kernel 18/04/2007 04:52:40
vmxnet VMware Ethernet Adapte Kernel 22/04/2006 23:13:11

Comments [7]

  1. VMware Workstation method:

    Use the usual Install VMware tools menu option. Regardless of what ISO you have mounted, vmware tools will be mounted to your guest machine’s CD-ROM drive letter.

    Use the abovementioned msiexec method, ex:

    msiexec.exe /i d:\”VMware Tools.msi” /qn

    *Minimize your terminal and watch for dialogs to dismiss.* (Or it will be a looooong wait.)

    After reboot – voila!

    P.S. vmxnet is an esx thing. but there are other vmware drivers to watch for:

    driverquery /v | findstr /IC:”vm”

  2. p.p.s. vmbus.sys is a microsoft binary, not vmware. cause someone’s going to point that out if i don’t… ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. Useful tip – this also works on Windows Server 2003, which also does not automatically start the VMWare Tools installation, but does mount the installation files as a ‘CD’. Follow the same instructions to get it to work.

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