How to Install VMware Guest Tools on Ubuntu Linux

This post shows students and new users how to install VMware Guest Machines Tools on Ubuntu guest machines to enhance guest machine performance. The VMware Tools offer several useful features, including improved graphics performance, shared folders, shared clipboard, drag and drop operations, and more.

We recently showed you how to install VMware Workstation Pro on Ubuntu Linux. You can read that post here.

Whenever you create a new Ubuntu guest machine, you should always follow up with installing the VMware Guest Tools. Without the Guest Tools, the virtual machine may not work as intended.

The tools are now available as open-source packages called Open VM Tools (OVT) and are available via Ubuntu default package repositories. You can also use the built-in tools that come with VMware host software.

In my test, I found that the built-in tools work better than the open-source versions.

To learn how to install VMware guest tools, follow the steps below:

How to install the Open VM Tools on Ubuntu guest machines

As we mentioned above, Open VM Tools is the open-source implementation of VMware guest tools. The packages are available in Ubuntu default repositories.

The tools are split into two packages: open-VM-tools for headless systems and open-vm-tools-desktop for desktop systems.

To install the opensource version, run the comment below:


sudo apt update
sudo apt install open-vm-tools


sudo apt update
sudo apt install open-vm-tools-desktop

You should then restart the machine for the changes to take effect.

How to install VMware Guest Tools from VMware Host

The tools can also be installed from VMware host software. For desktop machines, this might be a better option.

To install open the VMware host software. Start the guest machine and from the guest machine menu, select VM –> Install VMware Tools.

This will temporarily mount VMware Workstation virtual CD drive with the guest tools content on to Ubuntu guest machine.

While the virtual CD drive is mounted, open the Ubuntu terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T keys on your keyboard.

Then run the commands below to extract the content from the virtual CD drive that you must mount to the /tmp directory. This directory is a temporary location and will be deleted once the system reboots.

tar -xvf /media/$USER/"VMware Tools"/VMwareTools*.gz -C /tmp

Finally, run the commands below to install the tools. Using the -d option with the commands will install all the recommended plugins and modules with the default options.

sudo /tmp/vmware-tools-distrib/ -d

If you want to manually select the options and configuration, then run it without the -d option.

When the installation completes, reboot your machine and you’re all set!


This post showed you how to install the VMware Guest Tools on Ubuntu guest machines. If you find any error above or have anything to add, please use the comment form below.