vmxmr
Expert
Expert

Tricks to Install a New Ubuntu Linux (or other Linux) in VMware Fusion

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS was recently released, and I ran into the same installation problems that I have seen in earlier versions of various Linux distros (including Ubuntu). I don't remember when the problem first appeared. Who knows? (Who cares?) See below for a description of the installation problem I encountered, and the simple fix. I have tried it with Ubuntu 64-bit and Ubuntu-MATE 64-bit 16.04 LTS versions.

Please note: The problems, fixes, and tricks discussed here will not apply to all Linux distros, but I suspect it applies to many distros that are derived from Ubuntu or Debian.

Problem Description:

When you install Ubuntu Linux (and probably other versions of Linux that use a similar GUI installer) from the downloaded .iso file, part of the installer window is hidden beyond the edge of the virtual machine display. You cannot see some of the installer interface, including critical "OK" or "Continue" buttons. Enlarging the virtual machine display window doesn't help, because everything gets larger, but the hidden part of the installer remains hidden.

In the past, I would get around this problem by guessing the hidden OK button and using tab to "highlight" it unseen, then press the return key to take action. This did not work very well for me with Ubuntu 16.04. Perhaps I was impatient. Instead, I found a better way.

Solution:

When you create a new Linux virtual machine, the next step is to boot from the downloaded .iso file, which includes the installer.

  • DO NOT click the "Install Ubuntu" (or "Install xyz") button. This leads to the installer interface with buttons that hide beyond the edge of the virtual machine's display.
  • Instead, click the "Try Ubuntu" button. A trial version of Linux appears in the virtual machine window. You will also see an installer application on the Desktop, ready for you to use.
  • Double-click the installer application on the Desktop. For my copy of Ubuntu Linux, it is called, "Install Ubuntu 16.04 LTS".
  • The installer will open in a separate window in the desktop.
  • Follow the prompts.
  • When you encounter an installer window with user interface elements that are hidden (e.g, a missing OK or Continue button), click and drag the window to the left using the top bar of the window. Be sure you click high enough in the window. If you click and you do not see a "hand", then you are not clicking high enough in the installer window to move it. (For my Ubuntu installer, the upper content "frame" of the installer matches the top bar of its window. It is hard to know where the installer frame ends and the top bar begins.)


VMware Tools and Open VM Tools:
Some versions of Linux (including recent releases of Ubuntu) prefer you to use "open-vm-tools" instead of the VMware Tools that is included with VMware Fusion. If your Linux distro uses Open VM Tools instead of VMware Tools (e.g., Ubuntu Linux), here is what you should do:

  • If you have not done so already, reboot into your newly installed Linux.
    • You may be required to disconnect the virtual CD ROM drive. Do it from the CD icon in the "expanded" toolbar in VMware Fusion, or go to your virtual machine's Settings -> CD/DVD (SATA).
  • Login using an administrator account (the first account you created).
  • Open a Terminal window.
    • In Ubuntu, you can click on the top left Dash icon in the Launcher and type "Terminal".  (The Launcher is like the Mac Dock for Ubuntu, and the Dash icon is a "Spotlight"-like search tool.) Click on the Terminal icon that appears to open a terminal window.
  • In the terminal window, type the command:

sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools

  • After you have installed the latest version of open-vm-tools and you see the "$" prompt, type the command:

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

  • This will allow you to resize your Linux virtual machine window, or run it in full screen mode. After the open-vm-tools-desktop installation is complete and you see the "$" prompt, type "exit" to close the terminal window.

I hope this helps!

19 Replies
khuffmanjr
Contributor
Contributor

open-vm-tools and open-vm-tools-desktop has not enabled desktop resizing for me in Ubuntu 16.04.

I am using latest esxi 6.0u2 with integrated webclient from Windows 10 and Chrome.  I have used the embedded console from Chrome and the VMRC application for Windows.  Neither situation has allowed fullscreen nor desktop resizing in console.  If anyone knows how to get this working, then please let me know.

Thanks!

Ken

EDIT:  ...and yes, I understand this post was for Fusion.  I am not using Fusion, but would still appreciate some help.

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vmxmr
Expert
Expert

Some people have suggested that removing open-vm-tools and open-vm-desktop and then installing VMware's own VMware Tools will solve the issue. First, take a snapshot of your existing virtual machine, in case it doesn't work. Use apt-get remove. Reboot the virtual machine (maybe between the removes, in an overabundance of caution).

Next install VMware Tools from VMware instead of the "open" version. On Fusion, there is a menu item for "Install VMware Tools", which mounts a virtual CD with the zip installer. You uncompress the installer and run the perl script to install it.

Let us know if that works for you.

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khuffmanjr
Contributor
Contributor

I have tried both, I'm afraid.  open and proprietary. 

I believe it has something to do with Ubuntu and Unity.  Perhaps the open tools need to catch up with the latest Ubuntu display system.

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wila
Leadership
Leadership

Use apt-get remove.

Almost, apt-get remove keeps the configuration files, which in this case is not what you want.

Instead use apt-get purge

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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notMike
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks khuffmanjr,

I also am seeing this behaviour of the screen not resizing in Ubuntu 16.04.

I also am running on an ESXi6.0 update 2 (including the 201605001 update).

I am running the Vsphere client (6.0.0-3562874; 6.0 update2) windows client to connect.

Seems like this is not a VMWare issue, nor a vmware tools one, but an Ubuntu one.

Have you found any fixes or clever workarounds?

Thanks!

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vmxmr
Expert
Expert

I have an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS 64-bit virtual machine. I installed it just as I described above. I normally run in a Full Screen view, which creates a separate Mac "space" (a separate Mac "screen" on the built-in display). I just tried setting it to Single Window view and resizing it to an arbitrary size on my screen. It all seems to work for me. I repeated the test with Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and got the same results. "Unity" view is grayed out in the View menu for both virtual machines.

I am running a mid-2011 21 inch iMac with quad Core i7 and 32 Gbytes RAM. The host operating system is 10.11.5 El Capitan, with VMware Fusion 8.1.1.

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nancyz
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

I repeated the test with Ubuntu MATE 16.04 and got the same results. "Unity" view is grayed out in the View menu for both virtual machines.

Hi vmxmr,

Linux Unity is not supported since Fusion 7. Hope this will help.

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__Thomas__
Contributor
Contributor

In my experience there is a bug in open-vm-tools (16.04) making shared folders not mountable. So I uninstalled these and used the proprietary tools.

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__Thomas__
Contributor
Contributor

nancyz‌: No vendor of VMs say they support Linux at all. It is simply cowardness by them.

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vmxmr
Expert
Expert

nancyznancyz: No vendor of VMs say they support Linux at all. It is simply cowardness by them.

What are those vendors of VMs afraid of? Marauding Linux-on-virtual-machines users? Microsoft? Apple? ISIS? VMware Fusion's less-than-stellar support for Linux may be due to many factors, but I doubt that cowardice is one of them.

nancyz‌ was merely pointing out that Unity View is no longer supported for Linux in Fusion 8. She didn't say that Linux itself is not supported. It is. Admittedly there are known bugs related to Linux virtual machines that have yet to be fixed in VMware Fusion.

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__Thomas__
Contributor
Contributor

It is simply a legal statement to get the back saved. Linux is wide spread and is very heterogeneous but you still get support by vendors of VM if they are capable of answering. So it is easier for them to state it is not supported but in fact it is running.

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wila
Leadership
Leadership

Hi,

Please don't spread FUD,

VMware supports 38 ubuntu versions according to their official supported guest OS lists.

VMware Compatibility Guide - Guest/Host Search canonical guests

The latest versions of ubuntu are not listed, this does not mean it doesn't work, nor does it mean that it isn't supported, the list above just might not be 100% up to date.

For example in the list above you'll see that ubuntu 15.10 is missing, yet they have special notes for it in Fusion 8.0.2 release notes: VMware Fusion 8.0.2 Release Notes

I think they are supported quite a long list of ubuntu (let alone other Linux versions) so your statement is quite off to be frank.

Yes there are things that could be better, but that is an ongoing process and takes time to settle.

Yes more time as we all like too, but that's just life.

--

Wil

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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carrion
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I appear to be missing something basic here. When I try to install Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with Fusion 8.1.1 I don't get either an "Install Ubuntu" button or a "Try Ubuntu" button. After choosing a password and being offered a change to adjust the settings, I get a "Finish" button, and clicking this runs the installer. My installation method is "Install from disc or image". Is there some other method I should use? Thanks for any help.

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vmxmr
Expert
Expert

I appear to be missing something basic here. When I try to install Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with Fusion 8.1.1 I don't get either an "Install Ubuntu" button or a "Try Ubuntu" button. After choosing a password and being offered a change to adjust the settings, I get a "Finish" button, and clicking this runs the installer. My installation method is "Install from disc or image". Is there some other method I should use? Thanks for any help.

Aha! Thank you for finding the flaw in my description.

I missed an important point above: I always do a MANUAL installation when I create virtual machines, for any operating system. In your case, you left the "Easy Install" checked (enabled) in the Linux Easy Install window. I never do, but I failed to mention it above. My sincere apologies for that.

Here is how I do a Linux installation:

  • Download the ISO disk image file for Ubuntu  (or other similar Linux distribution. In case it matters, I installed the 64-bit version. The ISO disk image file for my copy of Ubuntu is "ubuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso".
  • Launch VMware Fusion.
  • From the File menu choose "New...".
  • A window appears, "Select the installation Method." Click the Continue button in the lower right corner.
  • Another window appears, "Create a New Virtual Machine." If your distribution appears on the list, choose it. Otherwise, click the button titled, "Use another disc or disc image..." and navigate to your ISO file in the "Open" dropdown dialog box. Select your ISO and click the Open button. Your selection should now appear in the "Create a New Virtual Machine" list. Click the Continue button in the lower right corner.
  • The "Linux Easy Install" window appears. Uncheck (disable) the "Use Easy Install" feature. (It was enabled by default, but you do not want to use it.)
  • The "Finish" window appears and displays a Virtual Machine Summary. If you want to change a setting on the virtual machine (more memory, more disk, more cores?, etc.) then click "Customize Settings".
  • If you chose "Customize Settings", give your virtual machine a filename in the Save dialog box and then make your settings changes; close the Settings window. Otherwise, click the Finish button and give your virtual machine a filename in the Save dialog box.
  • At this point, you should see the virtual machine window in the Powered Off mode. In the Virtual Machine menu, choose Start Up, or click the large "play" button in the virtual machine window. The virtual machine will boot from the ISO disc image.
  • You are now running Linux from the ISO disc image, but it is not yet installed on the virtual machine's drive.
  • Click the Try Ubuntu (or "Try whatever") button to see the Linux desktop. One of the items on the desktop is an application named "Install Ubuntu 16.04 LTS". (It might say, Install <some other Linux>.)
  • Double-click the Install application. The installer will run. Follow the prompts. If you are not sure, choose the default.
  • If you have not done so already, reboot into your newly installed Linux.
    • You may be required to disconnect the virtual CD ROM drive. Do it from the CD icon in the "expanded" toolbar in VMware Fusion, or go to your virtual machine's Settings -> CD/DVD (SATA).
  • Login using an administrator account (the first account you created).
  • Open a Terminal window.
    • In Ubuntu, you can click on the top left Dash icon in the Launcher and type "Terminal".  (The Launcher is like the Mac Dock for Ubuntu, and the Dash icon is a "Spotlight"-like search tool.) Click on the Terminal icon that appears to open a terminal window.
  • In the terminal window, type the command:
sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools
  • After you have installed the latest version of open-vm-tools and you see the "$" prompt, type the command:
sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools-desktop
  • This will allow you to resize your Linux virtual machine window, or run it in full screen mode. After the open-vm-tools-desktop installation is complete and you see the "$" prompt, type "exit" to close the terminal window.

HINTS:

  • The install window in the (Ubuntu) Linux virtual machine is larger than the virtual machine window itself. Use your mouse to click-hold (grab) the top of the Linux installer window in the virtual machine, and then slide it to the left, so you can uncover the hidden buttons on the lower right that you could not see before. You may have to slide the window back and forth a few times during installation, but at least you can find the buttons and other options.

  • To recapture your mouse for your Mac, press the Control and Command (CTRL-CMD) keys together on your keyboard.

I hope this helps.

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carrion
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Thank you for the quick and helpful reply. It looks slightly different in Fusion 8.1.1, but not significantly, and most importantly it worked. Here are the steps I used, based on your description:

Select the "Create a custom virtual machine" installation method.

Select Ubuntu 64-bit as the operating system.

Adjust disk size if desired.

Customize settings if desired. *

Click Finish.

From here it follows your description with clicking "Try Ubuntu".

* At first I had the same problem even with these steps. It turns out that if you turn off 3D graphics in the settings you will still end up with the empty desktop problem.

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thejapanese
Contributor
Contributor

Another question over here...

Using a 2.3 GHz Core i7 with 16GB RAM.

What would be the "best" settings concerning RAM and Processors while using Fusion with Ubuntu 16.10 or Mint 18?

Cannot find any hints.

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vmxmr
Expert
Expert

Unfortunately, the answer is: "It depends." It depends on what you do with your Ubuntu or Mint Linux virtual machine.


CORES:

If you are running a few simple tools, such as LibreOffice, then choose 1 core. If you are running multiple multi-threaded applications simultaneously, then choose two or three cores. The general rule is to avoid assigning more than "n - 1" cores, where n is the number of real cores in your CPU. In your case, with a Core i7 processor that has four cores, your virtual machines should be assigned 3 cores or less. One or two cores is a good choice. Two cores sounds "powerful", but probably one core would be enough for your needs.


MEMORY:

This also depends on how much memory your Linux virtual machine actually uses. You want to leave yourself headroom so that you have plenty of memory for your Linux virtual machine, but you don't want overkill. Too much assigned memory actually slows down your virtual machine. VMware Fusion's suspend and resume operations can take much longer, for example, and the use more disk space, too.


ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS:


I assigned 2 cores and 4096 Mbytes memory to my Ubuntu and other Linux virtual machines. I won't run Linux MINT for personal reasons. My iMac host has a Core i7 (quad core) and 32 Gbytes RAM.


The way I use Linux, it would have been much better if I had assigned only 1 core and 1024 Mbytes of memory, so I can run more of them at the same time for updates, etc. I would also get better VMware performance with less memory assigned, too.


Why not run a few tests for yourself? Linux is free and easy to install. Create a few test Linux virtual machines, install and run the applications that you normally use, and see how they perform and how much memory they use. When you have decided what you want, change your production virtual machines accordingly, and delete the test virtual machines.


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thejapanese
Contributor
Contributor

Thx for your answer. I'm trying around... Just a newbie in that kind of section.

Why no MINT for you? Ubuntu fan?

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vmxmr
Expert
Expert

If you are just "trying" Linux, then I recommend assigning 1 core and 1024 Mbytes of memory. For most activities, it should be very good. Remember that you can always shutdown your virtual machine and then change the cores and memory settings to see what happens.

I feel comfortable with many different operating systems, including various Linux distros, but I am not a "fan" of any of them. They all have their good and bad points. To oversimplify, there are two major "categories" of Linux distros in common use: Debian-based (such as Ubuntu), and RPM/SUSE/RedHat-based (such as Fedora and CentOS). I hate to generalize, but I would guess that most desktop users prefer the Debian-based distros (such as Ubuntu), and server users somewhat prefer the RedHat-based distros.

Why no MINT for you? Ubuntu fan?

NOTE: Feel free to ignore the following text which has no technical value at all, only controversial political comments.

Linux MINT is a good distro, and there is no operational reason to avoid it. I avoid Linux MINT in response to the very public and highly inflammatory political statements made by its developer on the Linux MINT website. The Linux MINT developer said that he does not want certain people to use, donate, or support Linux MINT. For this reason alone, I will not use Linux MINT and urge everyone to avoid it. I believe that all Linux distros should be free for everyone to use, contribute, and support no matter who you are or what your political beliefs. The developer has apologized for posting the statements on the official Linux MINT website and has moved his political comments to a personal blog. If you run Linux MINT, then using the default search engine and other applications bring money to the developer. I prefer to avoid Linux MINT altogether. If you wish to avoid Linux MINT, consider using Ubuntu MATE instead.

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