Installing VMware Server 2.0 on Linux Systems

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An Overview of Virtualization and VMware Server 2.0Installing VMware Server 2.0 on Windows Systems

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The first step in deploying VMware Server based virtualization involves obtaining and installing the software. The installation process differs considerably depending on the particular operating system running on the host computer. The goal of this chapter is to cover the steps necessary to download and install VMware Server 2.0 on a Linux host. Installation on the Microsoft Windows family of operating systems is covered in the chapter entitled Installing VMware Server 2.0 on Windows Systems.

Supported Linux Distributions

Whilst VMware Server 2.0 is capable of running on a variety of different Linux distributions, only a subset of these are officially supported at time of writing. The currently supported host Linux distributions are outlined in the following table:

Operating System


Red Hat Enterprise Linux

5.0, 5.1

Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS 4.5
Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES 4.5
Red Hat Enterprise Linux WS 4.5
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1, 10, 9 SP4
Ubuntu Linux 8.04, 7.10, 7.04, 6.10, 6.06
Mandriva Corporate Server 4
Mandriva Linux (32-bit only) 10.1

Although not officially listed as a supported operating system, VMware Server 2.0 will also run on CentOS Linux 5.0 and 5.1 since these are essentially re-branded versions of the corresponding Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions.

Note that unless otherwise stated, the above operating systems are supported in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. One other key issue to be aware of is that VMware Server 2.0 will only support 64-bit guest operating systems (in other words the operating systems running inside VMware Server virtual machines) on host computers with either Intel EM64T VT or AMD64 D or newer processors.

VMware Server 2.0 and Unsupported Linux Distributions

Although many Linux distributions are not included in the list of those supported by VMware, Inc, this only means that VMware Server is not officially supported in such environments. It does not, however, necessarily mean that VMware Server will not run on these systems. In fact, when the VMware Server 2.0 installer encounters a Linux kernel for which it does not already have a pre-built kernel module ready to load, it will prompt for the location of the kernel sources and a GNU C compiler so that it can attempt to build a compatible module. For this reason, it is important that the GNU C compiler (gcc) package and the kernel sources necessary for building kernel modules are installed on unsupported Linux distributions prior to beginning the VMware Server 2.0 installation process. The steps to achieve this depend on the package management system in use and should be performed with reference to the official documentation for the Linux distribution in question.

Even if the installer is able to build and load a module for an unsupported Linux distribution it is important to note that this is no guarantee that the software will subsequently run. If problems are encountered it is worth searching on the internet or visiting VMware Server or Linux distribution specific online forums to find out if others have encountered similar problems and to identify whether workarounds are available.

Downloading VMware Server 2.0

VMware Server 2.0 for Linux may be downloaded free of charge from the VMware web site located at The download process involves locating VMware Server 2.0 from the products page and submitting a moderately detailed form. Once the form has been submitted and the subsequent license agreement agreed to, the VMware Server 2.0 download page is presented.

VMware, Inc. provides the VMware Server software distribution in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions so it will be important to identify the CPU architecture of the host computer before downloading the software. The VMware software is also distributed as either a compressed (gzipped) tar or Red Hat Package Management (RPM) archive. The archive type to select is as much about personal preference as anything else, although users with non-Red Hat derived Linux distributions may be more inclined to opt for the compressed tar archive. The archives are approximately 500Mb in size so may take some time to download depending on internet connection speed.

Also displayed on the download page will be serial numbers for both Linux and Windows installations. These will be required to unlock the VMware Server software during the installation process so be sure to make a careful note of them before dismissing the browser window.

Installing VMware Server 2.0

Once the VMware Server 2.0 archive has been downloaded in either compressed tar or RPM format the next step is to unpack the software so that the installation process may begin. In the case of the tar archive, this may be unpacked in a terminal window by changing directory to a suitable sub-directory and using the following command (keeping in mind that the file name may differ from that used below):

tar xvfz VMware-server-2.0.0-110949.i386.tar.gz

The above command will unpack the VMware Server 2.0.0 files into a sub-directory named vmware-server-distrib. Change to this directory and run the script as follows as super-user:


Prior to performing the installation, the above command will prompt for the locations where the software is to be installed. In each case, a default location will be suggested enclosed in square brackets. The default locations are recommended unless there is a compelling need to install elsewhere. Once the files have been copied, the script will then prompt to start the script to configure VMware Server ready for use. At this point proceed to the section below entitled Configuring VMware Server 2.0.

The RPM package may be unpacked using the following command, noting once again that the actual file name may differ from that used below. This task must be performed as super-user by using either the su - or sudo commands:

rpm -Uhv VMware-server-2.0.0-110949.i386.rpm 

This command will install the VMware Server 2.0 files in the appropriate locations on the system (primarily in /etc/vmware, /usr/bin and /usr/lib/vmware).

Configuring VMware Server 2.0

Once the software has been installed from either the tar archive or the RPM package, VMware Server needs to be configured. This is achieved using the script. In the case of installation from tar archive, this may have been invoked already by the script. In the case of an RPM based installation it will need to be launched manually. By default, is installed in /usr/bin so either ensure that this is included in the PATH environment variable, or enter the full path at the command prompt:


When first invoked, will attempt to shut down any currently running VMware Server processes. If VMware Server was not previously running, a number of these attempts will be reported as having failed. Such messages may be safely ignored at this point. The configuration script will subsequently display a lengthy end user license agreement (EULA) which must be agreed to before the configuration can proceed. Press the space bar to page through the agreement, or press 'q' to skip the text and enter 'yes' to accept the terms of the agreement.

Once the license agreement has been accepted the configuration script will attempt to load three pre-built VMware Server 2.0 kernel modules (vmmon, vmci and vsock) into the running kernel. If no pre-built modules are available for the current kernel, the script will prompt for the location of the system's kernel sources and C compiler and attempt to build compatible modules. If suitable pre-built modules are available output similar to the following will be displayed:

The bld-2.6.18-8.el5-i686smp-RHEL5 - vmmon module loads perfectly into the 
running kernel.

The bld-2.6.18-8.el5-i686smp-RHEL5 - vmci module loads perfectly into the 
running kernel.

The bld-2.6.18-8.el5-i686smp-RHEL5 - vsock module loads perfectly into the 
running kernel.

Having identified (or compiled) and loaded the appropriate kernel modules the script proceeds to the network configuration phase.

If the virtual guest systems running within the VMware Server environment are not required to have any form of network connectivity, enter n when prompted, otherwise enter y to configure networking options. VMware Server 2.0 provides support for three types of virtual networking, so before selecting the network options to be made available to guest systems, it is worth taking a little time to understand each of these options:

  • Bridged networking — Although the guest systems use the physical network connections on the host system, each guest is treated as an independent client on the network. As such it will obtain an IP address from the network's DHCP server, or will require a static IP address to be manually configured if DHCP is not used. Guest systems using bridged networking will be able to communicate directly with both the host and other clients on the network to which the host is connected.
  • Network Address Translation (NAT) — Virtual guests share the IP and MAC address of the host system. Guests will be able to communicate with other clients on the network to which the host is connected, but will appear to those clients as the host system, rather than as individual network clients. This approach allows multiple virtual machines to operating using a single IP address.
  • Host‐only networking - Creates a private sub-net within the host for the guest systems. Guests configured with host-only networking can communicate directly only with the host system and other guests which are also members of the host-only network. The guest systems cannot, however, communicate with the network to which the host is connected.

It is important to note that at this point we are simply deciding what networking options will be available to the guest systems. Just because an option is selected now, it does not mean that any of the virtual guests have to be configured to use it. Similarly, if at a later date a networking option is required which was not selected at this point it may be enabled simply by re-running the script and selecting the missing option.

In the case of Bridged network support, the configuration script will prompt for a name for the network and, in the case of hosts with multiple Ethernet adapters, the adapter to be used for the bridge. Note that even though an Ethernet adapter is used for the bridge it will still be available for continued use by the host.

As with Bridged network support, the NAT option requires that a name be assigned. The script will subsequently provide the option to probe the network to locate an unused private subnet address range. Either choose the probe option, or enter a known available subnet for the NAT addressing scheme. Once selected, virtual guests will communicate with each other using these private subnet addresses, but will communicate with the external network using the IP address of the host.

Host-only networking will similarly require a name and an unused private subnet which may be entered manually or automatically identified by the configuration script. Once the network configuration process is complete, will load the VMware Server network kernel module (vmnet) into the running kernel of the host operating system.

The next step of the configuration involves defining how the VMware Server management console (also referred to as VMware Infrastructure Web Access) will be accessed, both for local and remote administration purposes. The first option to configure is the port through which the VMware Server environment will be accessed from remote systems using VMware management applications (in other words, non-browser based applications). The default port for this purpose is port 902. The HTTP and secure HTTPS access ports also need to be specified for use when accessing the management console via web browsers. By default these are 8222 and 8333 respectively. Therefore, if the host system has an IP address of, then the management interface would be accessed securely by entering in a browser URL field. Different ports may, of course, be specified if required, although regardless of the ports used, it will be necessary to make sure these ports are open on any firewalls protecting the host if remote administration is to be performed.

Next is the designation of a user to act as the administrator of the VMware Server environment. When prompted, enter 'y' to configure a different administrator and provide the name of the user to be given administrative access to the VMware Server system. This user's name and system password will subsequently be used to gain access to the management console.

Once the administrator has been assigned, specify the location for the virtual machine files and, finally, enter the serial number, of the form XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX recorded at the beginning of this chapter to unlock the VMware Server software.

With VMware Server configured, follow the instructions to install the optional VMware VIX API packages, if required, using the defaults offered.

Finally, will start up the VMware Server 2.0 services, presenting output similar to the following (depending on which network options were selected):

Starting VMware services:
   Virtual machine monitor                                 [  OK  ]
   Virtual machine communication interface                 [  OK  ]
   VM communication interface socket family:               [  OK  ]
   Virtual ethernet                                        [  OK  ]
   Bridged networking on /dev/vmnet0                       [  OK  ]
   Host-only networking on /dev/vmnet1 (background)        [  OK  ]
   DHCP server on /dev/vmnet1                              [  OK  ]
   Host-only networking on /dev/vmnet8 (background)        [  OK  ]
   DHCP server on /dev/vmnet8                              [  OK  ]
   NAT service on /dev/vmnet8                              [  OK  ]
   VMware Server Authentication Daemon (background)        [  OK  ]
   Shared Memory Available                                 [  OK  ]
Starting VMware management services:
   VMware Server Host Agent (background)                   [  OK  ]
   VMware Virtual Infrastructure Web Access
Starting VMware autostart virtual machines:
   Virtual machines                                        [  OK  ]

The configuration of VMware Server 2.0.0 build-110949 for Linux for this 
running kernel completed successfully.

Accessing the VMware Server Management Console

Once the configuration is complete and the VMware Server infrastructure is up and running on the host system the next task is to access the VMware Infrastructure Web Access interface. To achieve this, start a browser either on the local host, or on a client elsewhere on the network (assuming that the ports specified for remote access are not blocked by a firewall) and enter the following into the URL address field of the browser:


In the above example, host is replaced by the hostname or IP address of the VMware Server host machine, for example

Once loaded, the VI Web Access interface will prompt for the administrator user name specified during the configuration process described in the previous section, together with the password that particular user uses to again access to the host system:

Logging in to the VMware Infrastructure Web Access interface

Once valid login and password credentials have been entered, the VI Web Access interface will appear in the browser windows as illustrated in the following figure:

The VMware Server 2.0 Infrastructure Web Acess interface

At this point in the installation and configuration of VMware Server 2.0 on Linux is complete. For a detailed overview of the VI Web Access interface refer to A Guided Tour of the VMware Server 2.0 Infrastructure Web Access Interface. Alternatively, to progress to creating and starting virtual machines read the chapter entitled Creating VMware Server 2.0 Virtual Machines.

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