Installing VMware Server on Gentoo Linux (Version 3)

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sun, 07/09/2006 - 21:49.

[This article is now somewhat obsolete because vmware-server have been included the official portage tree. There is no need for a separate overlay. The bug reports still apply. This is an updated version of a two previous article on the subject.]

The new VMware Server is going to replace VMware's GSX Server product. And it's more than just a new name: VMware will supposedly release it free of charge. Being still in beta testing, there are currently no stable ebuilds available for it on Gentoo Linux. Fortunately, Mike Auty and others are working on one and they are doing a fine job. They also seem to be streamlining and consolidating other related VMware ebuilds. You can keep track of their progress on these Bugzilla bugs:

  • Problems regarding the vmware-module ebuild: 137422.
  • Problems regarding the vmware-player ebuild: 137423.
  • Problems regarding the vmware-server ebuild: 137424.
  • Problems regarding the vmware-server-console ebuild: 137425.
  • Problems regarding the vmware-workstation ebuild: 137426.
  • Problems regarding the vmware-workstation-tools ebuild: 137428.
  • Problems regarding the vmware overlay in general: 122500.

The VMware Server ebuilds are not part of the official stable Gentoo portage tree so if you want to install them on your system you will have to jump through a few extra hoops. Fortunately this process has become very convenient and straight-forward thanks to Gunnar Wrobel's layman. This article sums up the procedure.

Install Layman

Layman is a Python script that makes additional portage overlays available on your box. The vmware overlay is one of them but before we can use it we obviously need to install layman:

# emerge layman
# echo "source /usr/portage/local/layman/make.conf" >> /etc/make.conf

You may want to browse layman's list of available overlays. It should include the vmware overlay:

# layman -L
* vmware [Subversion] (source:

Remove older VMware Server ebuilds

If you are frequent reader of Diary Products you may have followed this recipe's predecessors. In that case you'll need to unmerge the VMware Server ebuilds:

# emerge -Cavt vmware-server-console
# emerge -Cavt vmware-server-modules
# emerge -Cavt vmware-server

You may also have to remove the ebuilds from your Portage overlay. Assuming it's located at /usr/local/portage this will do:

# rm -r /usr/local/portage/app-emulation/vmware-server
# rm -r /usr/local/portage/app-emulation/vmware-server-console
# rm -r /usr/local/portage/app-emulation/vmware-server-modules

Install VMware Server

Add the vmware overlay to your system:

# layman -a vmware
Checked out revision 76.
* Successfully added overlay "vmware".

Add the following thre lines to you package.keywords file:

# vi /etc/portage/package.keywords
app-emulation/vmware-server ~amd64
app-emulation/vmware-modules ~amd64
app-emulation/vmware-server-console ~amd64

People using Intel architecture should use ~x86 instead of ~amd64. Also note that if you used earlier VMware Server ebuilds, your package.keywords will already contain those three lines with one tiny but important difference: vmware-server-modules is now called vmware-modules - I guess because it's shared by other VMware ebuilds like Workstation and Player. Please adjust your package.keywords accordingly.

Install VMware Server and its dependencies:

# emerge -avt vmware-server

Configure VMware Server

Follow the instructions displayed at the end of the installation. In particular, add yourself to the the vmware group and run the script.

# usermod -aG vmware root
# /opt/vmware/server/bin/

This is where many people run into trouble because it seems to be the most complex part of the installation. When posting questions to the above Bugzilla bugs keep in mind that the configuration script is maintained by VMware and not by the folks who provide the VMware ebuilds. They can only get so far patching the config script. In the long run they plan to get rid of the configuration script completely.

( categories: Unix | VMware | Administrator )
Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 19:10.
Ran into trouble with the layman -a vmware command as subversion was core dumping due to a broken pipe.. I ended up running the svn command on another machine, tarring up the vmware dir, and making a script in place of 'svn' that just untar'd the previously fetched vmware package. Worked after that :D Thanks!
Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 09/04/2006 - 06:07.

I tried by downloading from vmware, but did not get it to work..

Help needed :-)

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 07/28/2006 - 19:22.

Edit /etc/portage/package.keywords on your guest Gentoo system and add
app-emulation/vmware-server-tools -*


echo "app-emulation/vmware-server-tools -*" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords

Then simply do

emerge vmware-server-tools

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Mon, 07/24/2006 - 02:11.

I didn't see that vmware-server-tools ebuild before but that doesn't change my point. The VMware tools are for the guest, not the host. That warning you are seeing in the console window status bar means that the tools aren't installed on the guest. You can install them by following the instructions in the VMware documentation. If you do that, VMware will preform certain steps behind the scenes: it will mount an ISO image in the VM's virtual CDROM drive. If the guest is Windows, it will auto-start the VMware Tools installer on that virtual CD. If the guest is any flavour of Unix you may have to start the installation manually as explained in the VMware documentation. The aforementioned ISO image is part of VMware Server and it is copied to the host into /opt/vmware/server/lib/isoimages/ as part of the vmware-server ebuild. The ebuilds vmware-workstation-tools and vmware-server-tools are alternative ways of installing the VMware tools on a Gentoo guest, i.e. in the rare case that you're running Gentoo inside a VM. They have nothing to do with the host!

-- Hannes

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 07/23/2006 - 16:22.

When I run vware-server-console on the host operating system, it has the warning that VMWare Tools aren't installed in the lower left of the window. Are you sure they're part of the vmware-server ebuild? Because there's the vmware-server-tools ebuild that's missing a keyword.

Submitted by Hannes Schmidt on Sun, 07/16/2006 - 23:41.

The VMware tools ISO images are part of the vmware-server ebuild so you don't need to install any additional ebuilds on the host running VMware Server. If your guest is Gentoo as well you might be able to install the vmware-workstation-tools ebuild on it. Maybe the workstation tools are compatible with a VMware Server host but I wouldn't bet my life on it. HTH

-- Hannes

Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 07/16/2006 - 16:38.

When I've worked with VMWare before, you usually install VMWare tools, too. Their ebuild has no keyword and I don't see it mentioned here on in the gentoo-wiki.