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Ubuntu Send Ctrl+Alt+Del command to VMware Server VM

I was surprised to find there is not a “send ctrl+alt+del” menu command in VMware Server 2.0 (updated 01.30.09) when connecting from an Ubuntu desktop. It’s not in the Remote Console menus nor in the Commands section of the Web Interface. Normally that is not a big deal because you can always use “ctrl+alt+ins” to log on to a Windows VM, but it did not work.

I was banging away at my keyboard wondering what was wrong. I had just finished installing Server 2008 remotely from one of my Intrepid desktops and was ready to log back in to run dcpromo but I could not get to the log on prompt. I thought maybe my ins key went bad, but I knew that could not be the case. When I tried to use another Ubuntu desktop I had the same problem. Then I discovered there was not a menu command either! I silently questioned whether the VMware Server team’s parents were married when they were born, and then I did some research.

I quickly found the answer at the following thread on the Ubuntu Forums: vmware server 2.0 in intrepid ibex [Archive] – Ubuntu Forums. Turns out you have to use the Del key from the number pad on your Ubuntu desktop’s keyboard because the keyboard mappings in Ubuntu 8.10 are not correct! The working key combination is therefore “ctrl+alt+[numberpad]del.

updated 4.30.09 – if you do not have a number pad on your keyboard (laptops) then make this quick config change.

add just one line to the file ~/.vmware/config:

xkeymap.nokeycodeMap = true

Close the VM web console and reopen it for the change to take effect.

VMware please add a “send ctrl+alt+del” command to the (update 01.30.09) Linux Remote Console in the next update/version of VMware Server. Ubuntu, why are the keyboard mappings messed up?

updated 01.30.09 – I added the following screen shots to show the menu options when using the Remote Console from my Ubuntu desktops. I should point out I am using Firefox 3.0.5. I also updated the opening sentence of this post by adding “when connecting from an Ubuntu desktop” and the last sentence with “Linux Remote Console”. As Dracolith points out in his comment and screen shot link below, the “send ctrl+alt+del” command exists when connecting from a Windows host. I confirmed The ctrl+alt+ins key combination works as expected too. Continue reading

VMware Tools available via Synaptic for Ubuntu VMs

screenshot-synaptic-package-managerVMware announced specific Linux packages are now available for it’s VM Tools not too long ago. They also introduced the  Operating System Specific Packages (OSP) Home Page where “you will be able to search, browse and download VMware Tools software packaged in the native package format (e.g. rpm, deb etc) for select supported Operating Systems.” At VMworld 2008 I attended a session about VMware’s Roadmap for Linux that promised distribution packages were on the horizon, so it’s great to see them so quickly.

VMware currently has Linux packages for:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (including GA and Update Releases 1 through 7)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (including GA and Update Releases 1 and 2)
  • Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 (including GA and Service Pack releases 1 through 4)
  • Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 (including GA and Service Pack releases 1 and 2)
  • Ubuntu Linux 8.04 (including GA and Update Release 8.04.1)


VMware has created a guide for installing the OSPs (http://www.vmware.com/pdf/osp_install_guide.pdf), but after reading this PDF I was a little disappointed in the complicated process described inside. It made me curious if it could really be that hard, for Ubuntu for example, when so many packages are readily available via the Synaptic Package Manager. So, I decided to check for myself and the result was the screen shot image in this post. Click it for a larger view.

I haven’t actually tried an install from Synaptic yet, but I am definitely excited about the package availability! Let me know if you’ve already used Synaptic, Yum, apt-get, or any other native Linux package management tool to successfully install VMware Tools.

In my opinion, this is a huge advancement in the automation of Linux guest administration, and it will make installing and  keeping VMware Tools updated for Linux operating systems almost as easy as in Windows guests!

Linux scripts to clone and rename VMware Server VMs

If you run the free VMware Server on a Linux host then VMTN Communities user phxrider has created a couple of scripts that can make your life a little easier. Phxrider’s clone and rename scripts automate the process of two administrative tasks that are frankly a burden to do manually. Both VMware Server 1.x or 2.0 do not offer any template or cloning abilities from their respective GUI interfaces, so these scripts are an essential tool to have if you want to duplicate VMs or change the VM’s files to match a renamed directory.

Check out either http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8050 or the VMTN Forum thread at http://communities.vmware.com/thread/168266 to download the scripts. Here’s some brief info from these links:

“The clone script does a straight clone of a VM. It copies the directory, renames the files and tweaks all the text inside the files by using sed to replace the old name with the new one, then sets all the permissions to what they would be if you created a new VM.

The rename script basically does all but copy it. This is handy for if you tried to rename a directory manually or attempted a manual copy and then found it still shows up under the old name in the web console. Remember this one assumes you have already renamed the directory to the new name and it MUST be the same as what you intend for the new name to be.

Both work the same way… scriptname <old name> <new name>”

I am not aware of equivalent scripts for VMware Server hosted on Windows, but if they exist please leave a comment with a link for VM /ETC readers.

The rest of this post is my example of using the clone_vm.sh script to make a template for future VMware Server 2.0 VM cloning. Continue reading

Linux Strategy and Roadmap #TA3201

I had to miss my 9:30 am scheduled session because I was delayed finishing up the General Session post. Luckily VMworld has different sessions on the top and bottom of each hour this year. I think the staggered availability of sessions is a great idea, and it was perfect for my scenario this morning. I am actually more interested in VMware’s Linux strategy anyways. My power is low on my notebook, so this may start as a live blog but my battery might not make it.

Once again the legal disclaimer about forward technologies, but the presenter tells us he can’t give dates … hmmm.

VMware’s Linux strategy is focused along 2 vectors:

  • Ensure it is the best platform for linux workloads
  • Ensure customers have a wide variety of platform choices to deploy VMware

Here’s the Linux Initiatives at VMware Continue reading

Watching the Georgia Bulldogs in a Virtualbox VM running on Ubuntu

I’m writing this post with a smile from ear to ear. I’m happy because virtualization and Internet streaming video technologiy worked together to allow me to watch the Georgia Bulldogs season opener against Georgia Southern. I’m smiling because I watched the game inside a VirtualBox Windows XP virtual machine (VM) hosted on Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop, and I did not think it would work. Not only does it work, and I mean smooth video with minimal disruptions (I used a wireless connection too), but it worked in Seemless Mode. I’m smiling from ear to ear because the Bulldogs won 45 – 21.

The football game’s broadcast was only available via the pay per view ESPN Gameplan or on ESPN360.com. I was familiar with the Gameplan package through my cable provider but I had never used ESPN360.com to watch a game. After I learned ESPN360.com was free to use for customers with AT&T high speed (and other high speed providers) I decided to give it a try. Although the media player plug in can work with both Internet Explorer and Firefox, it still requires a Windows operating system. Since I run Ubuntu at home I decided I would give it a try with my VirtualBox XP guest.

The image in this post is a screenshot of my Ubuntu desktop and the Internet Exporer 7 window in VirtualBox Seemless mode. Continue reading

VirtualBox Shared Folders Protocol Error in Ubuntu Guest

I was banging my head against my desk trying to make shared folders work in VirtualBox 1.64 on my WinXP notebook inside an Ubuntu 8.04 guest. I kept getting a “protocol error” failure.

Here’s the scenario I was working with:

  • I created a Windows folder on my notebook to share to the guests – f:\shared2vms
  • I added the folder to the shared folders properties of the Ubuntu VM and named it shared2vms
  • I created a folder at /home/username/shared2vms to be the mount point of the VirtualBox shared folder in the Ubuntu guest

For a Linux guest in VirtualBox the command to use the shared folder is “mount -t vboxsf [shared folder name] [mount point]”

So, the command I was using

#sudo mount -t vboxsf shared2vms /home/user/shared2vms

After some creative Google -ing I luckily found this Virtualbox.org forum thread that solved the issue – Continue reading

VMware Server 2.0 RC1 browser plug in not compatible with Firefox 3.0.1

VMware Communities: Vmware-Server, RC1, Firefox 3.0.1, … is a popular thread right now. Here’s the scenario. If you are running VMware Server 2.0 RC1 and using Firefox to administer guest VMs, when you upgrade to Firefox version 3.0.1 the VMware Remote Console plug in is no longer compatible and is disabled. You get a message very similar to “VMware Remote Console Plug-in 2.5.0.100265 could not be installed because it is not compatible with Firefox 3.0.1“.

After reviewing the forum thread linked above and several other sources I have settled on what I think is the easiest work around – Add the Nightly Tester Tools Firefox plug in and force the incompatible Remote Console plug in to run.

I am running Ubuntu 8.0.4 and upgraded Firefox when I was prompted to install the latest distribution updates. Of course, hold off on the Firefox upgrade if you can and wait for the next release of VMware Server 2.0. Let’s assume (and hope) that the Server 2.0 team anticipates the frequent update cycle of Firefox moving forward and designs the plug in to survive upgrades if possible.

You can review the thread for a few other work arounds, but here’s the info on the Nightly Tester Tools plug in from the Firefox Addons web page:

Continue reading

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