Installing the free VMware Server is a common but slightly tricky process on some newer Linux systems. Having had to go through it again recently I thought I’d write some of it down. Of course if you are using Ubuntu 7.10 then the simple option is to enable the Canonical Partner repository and just use Synaptic to select and install VMware Server.
For the others in the audience that are installing on Ubuntu 8.04 or another Linux system that doesn’t have packages, you should have a working VMware Server install with web interface and a client console by the bottom of the page.
There are a few things you will need from VMware’s site before we kick off. Download these to your server machine.
VMware Server 1.06 is the latest version of the free product, released in late May 2008.
The web based Management User Interface (MUI) onto your VMware Server install. The files for VMware Server 1.06 are available here.
Your Linux (in this case Ubuntu 8.04) system will require some extra libraries and bits if you haven’t already done so. Run the following on both the server and the client (if you’re installing the VMware console too).
sudo apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-`uname -r` xinetd
As you progress through the install you may find that your system has extra requirements. It all depends on the setup and libraries already installed on each machine. So you have the option of installing these ones on your server now or just keep going and come back if needed.
sudo apt-get install libx11-6 libx11-dev libxtst6 libICE6 libxt6 libxrender1 libxi6 xfsprogs
Extract both the tarballs you’ve download,
tar -xvzf VMware-server-1.0.6-*.tar.gz tar -xvzf VMware-mui-1.0.6-*.tar.gz
switch to the Server install folder,
and run the installation script as root,
You may see errors during the install. If so, run these two commands to cover for a couple of missing libraries for cairo and gcc (tip courtesy of Ubuntu Tutorials)
sudo ln -sf /usr/lib/gcc/i486-linux-gnu/4.2.3/libgcc_s.so /usr/lib/vmware/lib/libgcc_s.so.1/libgcc_s.so.1
sudo ln -sf /usr/lib/libpng12.so.0 /usr/lib/vmware/lib/libpng12.so.0/libpng12.so.0
At the end of the install you’ll be asked for the registration key that you can get from the VMware website. I usually request 10 and copy and paste them to a safe place. Be aware that the Linux and Windows keys are different and can’t be interchanged.
When the key has been accepted the install tidies up and you should see the VMware Server starting and giving the OK message. To double check, just restart it again with,
sudo /etc/init.d/vmware restart
You now have a working VMware Server but no easy way to control it. So we need the MUI and the Console.
Switch folder back to the MUI source folder that you extracted earlier and run the install script,
Once that’s completed, you should be able to connect from your client system’s web browser to https://<server>:8333 as long as you haven’t changed the port.
Again, depending on the state of your system, you may need to run the following if you have connection problems. I’ve found this fixes the SSL generation error (“starting httpd.vmware:-ne failed“) you may have at the end of the MUI install.
sudo ln -s -f /bin/bash /bin/sh
Log on to https://<server>:8333 as your server user and you’ll see you can’t do too much. No options to create new VMs or change too many options. You need to install the VMWare console on your client machine.
Client Console Install
Installing the client console software is pretty easy. If you’re on a Windows machine just grab the client ZIP file from VMware, extract, double-click and you’re done.
For the Linux (specifically Ubuntu 8.04) world, use the links on those VMware MUI pages to download the console tarball and extract to a folder on your client machine. Remember that the rest of these instructions should be run on your Linux client and not your server.
Just follow the instructions through and accept the defaults. Look out for any ominous error messages, but you shouldn’t see any.
Test things out by starting the console with,
and log on as your server username and password. You can now create a VMware guest and start it up – as long as you’ve used a registration key. If you receive errors when starting your guest system via the console, make sure you’ve installed the libraries noted in the System Extras section. If you still have problems, run the following on the server to see if you have anything specific missing,
Hopefully by now you’ve got a smile on your face and if not, keep plugging away and feel free to ask any questions in the comments.