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A key area where VMware Server differs from many other virtualization solutions is the ability to install a special suite of tools (known as VMware Tools) onto the guest operating system. VMware Tools are available for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Netware guest operating systems and are designed to both improve the functionality of the guest within the virtual machine environment, and to enhance interaction between the guest and the host. VMware Tools, for example, allow the guest operating system to be cleanly powered off or reset from the host system, files to be copied between host and guest and guest programs to be remotely launched and killed from the host.
One of the most important, yet least visible, functions of the VMware Tools Service is to send regular ''heartbeat'' messages to VMware Server so that it can detect (via the lack of heartbeats) when a particular virtual machine, or its respective guest operating system, has failed.
Another responsibility of VMware Tools Service involves the handling of communication between the guest and host operating systems. It is not too unrealistic to make the statement that none of today's popular operating systems have been written specifically to run within a VMware Server virtual machine. As such, none of these guest operating systems are designed to accept and respond to any form of communication from the VMware Server environment. Whilst this isn't generally problem, an issue arises when we consider that the VI Web Access management interface provides the ability to power off, restart and suspend guest operating systems at the press of a tool bar button or menu option, avoiding the need to open a VMware Remote Console session, log into the guest operating system and perform an orderly shutdown or reboot. Since there is no mechanism built into most operating systems that would allow VMware Server to request a clean shutdown or restart, this functionality is instead provided by the VMware Tools Service. When a user, for example, restarts a virtual machine from the VI Web Access management interface, VMware Server notifies the VMware Tools Service running on the guest operating system, which in turn executes the commands necessary to perform a clean and orderly shutdown or restart. In addition, VMware Tools Service also provides a mechanism for administrators to configure custom scripts to be executed within the guest operating system when the power state of the underlying virtual machine changes. This particular topic is covered in greater detail in the [[Working with VMware Tools Scripts and Power States]] chapter of this book.
In another example of communication between host and guest operating systems, VMware Tools Service is also responsible for ensuring that the system time of the host and guest operating systems are synchronized.
=== VMware User Process ===
As with the VMware Tools Service, the VMware User Process (''VMwareUser.exe'' on Windows and ''vmware-user'' on Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris) runs as a background process and is essentially invisible to the user of the guest operating system. On guest operating systems such as Linux which typically use the X11 session manager, the VMware User Process is started automatically when a user's X Window session is started. On X Window based systems which do not use a session manager, the VMware User Process may be manually invoked by running the following command:
Upon completion of the VMware Tools installation process, click on the ''Finish'' button. As the installation included the addition of new drivers to the Windows
opearting system it may be necessary to reboot the virtual machine before the installation will take effect. In the majority of cases, Windows will display a dialog to this effect if a reboot is necessary. A subsequent review of the virtual machine status in VI Web Access should indicate that VMware Tools are now installed and operational.
== Installing VMware Tools on a Linux Guest ==