How to install VMware Tools on RHEL 8 / CentOS 8

When speaking of virtualization, VMware is a solution that can’t be ignored. While the true power of virtualization lives in the datacenters, we live in the age where anyone can run a virtual machine or two on a desktop or a laptop, given it is equipped with enough resources. These virtual machines are computers running inside a computer, and this setup has countless benefits and use cases. For instance, if you have a new software you’d like to test, you can do so in a virtual machine before installing it directly on a device you use for everyday work.

To work with these virtual machines with ease, we can integrate them with our Hypervisor – in this case, VMware – to enable the operating system running as guest to use the capabilities of the virtualization software. In this tutorial we will install the integration software, called VMware Tools on a virtual machine running RHEL 8 / CentOS 8, that is hosted in VMware Player. The same in-guest steps apply on the datacenter version of VMware regarding the tools installation. Note however, that Red Hat ships the open-vm-tools with the distribution, which is what VMware also recommends to use instead of the tools we’ll now install. Why are the tools shipped with the distribution recommended? They can be updated along with the distribution within the regular update process, while VMware’s tools need to be updated by hand (or automation, but unneeded effort anyway).

While the following steps will result in a working integration, please consider the above when you setting up your virtual systems. Outdated virtualization integration tools are a bad thing, which you will experience when you upgrade your hosts, and hundreds of alerts will appear on the vCenter consoles.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to download VMware tools using VMware Player
  • How to present installation source to the virtual machine
  • How to remove open-vm-tools
  • How to install and configure VMware Tools

Successful installation of VMware Tools.

Successful installation of VMware Tools.

Software Requirements and Conventions Used

Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System RHEL 8 / CentOS 8
Software VMware Tools 10.3.10
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

How to install VMware Tools on RHEL 8 / CentOS 8 step by step instructions

Installing VMware Tools on a virtual machine is rather straightforward. Naturally we’ll need an installed Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 or CentOS 8 running on our VMware Player.

  1. If we haven’t done so, we’ll need to download VMware Tools before we can install them. This step is only necessery if we did not choose the automatic download option on installation of the Player. To download the Tools for various platforms, just click on the File menu, and select Player preferences. Under the Software Updates, click on Download All Components Now. Note that the below screenshots present an already running virtual machine, but it does not need to run for the Player to download the tools.
    Downloading VMware Tools.

    Downloading VMware Tools.

    If none of the tools are downloaded when you start, it may take a while depending on your connection speed. The process may ask for your password when one of the tools are installed, which can be quite annoying.

    Download successful.

    Download successful.

    You’ll need to close the Player, and start it again for the tools to show up.

  2. As the installer would state it if we would start it on RHEL 8 machine with default packages, the open-vm-tools are already present, so we need to remove it, as these two are exclusive. To do so, use dnf:
    # dnf remove open-vm-tools

    Reboot the virtual machine afterwards.

  3. To present the installation media for the virtual machine, we need to start the machine, wait for it to boot up, and login. Then we’ll open the Virtual Machine menu and select Reinstall VMware Tools.... A popup window will appear where we select Install.

    Adding installation media.

    Adding installation media.
  4. Next we’ll open a terminal within the virtual machine, switch to root, and navigate to the virtual CD. This shows up as /run/media/<username>/VMware Tools in the file system.
    Finding installation media.

    Finding installation media.
  5. In this directory we’ll find a compressed tarball that we’ll copy to the /root directory (the exact name of the file may vary):
    # cp VMwareTools-*.tar.gz /root/

    We’ll enter the same directory and extract the archive:

    # cd ~
    # tar -xzf VMwareTools-*.tar.gz
  6. The previous step results in a new directory called vmware-tools-distrib where the installer resides. We’ll enter the directory:
    # cd vmware-tools-distrib

    And run the installer:

    # ./

    The installer presents many questions, for most of them the default answers are safe to accept. On completion the installer asks if it should start the configuration script, which is required for the tools to function.

    Executing the configuration script from the installer.

    Executing the configuration script from the installer.

    The default answer is “no”, so we need to override it by typing “yes”. This configuration script presents even more questions, all of them safely answered with the defaults. With this we completed our task, the VMware Tools service is up and running within the virtual machine’s operating system. We can find the running process by invoking the systemctl status command:

    # systemctl status vmware-tools
    Checking the status of the service with systemd.

    Checking the status of the service with systemd.