How to install VMware Player on Ubuntu Desktop

VMware Player is a closed-source multi-platform virtualization software that is freely distributed by VMware. VMware Player has a convenient graphical user interface for virtual machine (VM) management, and with built-in NAT/bridged networking, there is no hassle in configuring VM networking, unlike other hypervisors such as KVM and Xen.

It is straightforward to install VMware Player on Ubuntu Desktop, except that there are some caveats to take care of, which will be described in the following.

To install VMware Player from scratch, you can follow this one-minute step on most Ubuntu Desktop releases.

Download VMware Player for 32-bit or 64-bit Linux systems appropriately. As of this writing, the 32-bit and 64-bit VMware Player binaries are named VMware-Player-5.0.0-812388.i386.bundle, and VMware-Player-5.0.0-812388.x86_64.bundle, respectively.

Once download is completed, it will be saved as VMware-Player-5.0.0-812388.x86_64.txt locally (for 64-bit system). Install the downloaded file simply as follows.

$ sudo sh ./VMware-Player-5.0.0-812388.x86_64.txt

On most Ubuntu Desktop releases, the above step is all it takes to install VMware Player, and you can start deploying VMs right away.

Patch for Ubuntu Desktop 11.10

However, I noticed that on Ubuntu Desktop 11.10, creating a new VM on freshly installed VMware Player results in kernel panic instantly. The kernel panic is apparently due to incompatibility between vmmon kernel module used by VMware Player and Linux kernel 3.5 used by Ubuntu 12.10. If you experience the kernel panic, you can apply this VMware kernel module patch to avoid it. The patch recompiles vmmon kernel module, and so you need to have build environment ready (e.g., by running sudo apt-get install build-essential) prior to running the patch. The patch was originally written by Artem S. Tashkinov, and modified by me (to handle the case when there are other VMware products are installed). The patch is known to work for VMware Player 5 as well as VMware Workstation 9.

To apply the patch:

$ tar xvfvz vmware9_kernel3.5_patch.tgz
$ cd vmware9_kernel3.5_patch
$ ./patch-modules_3.5.0.sh

Disable KVM

Another recommendation when using VMware Player on Ubuntu Desktop is to disable KVM hypervisor. Ubuntu uses KVM as the default virtualization technology. As such, if your host has 64-bit processors with hardware virtualization support (e.g., Intel VT or AMD-V), a fresh installation of Ubuntu Desktop has KVM installed and enabled. VMware Player 4 would not install on a system with KVM enabled. While VMware Player 5 does not have such restriction, it is recommended you disable KVM when using VMware Player.

To check whether KVM is enabled or not on your Ubuntu Desktop, do the following:

$ sudo lsmod|grep kvm
kvm_intel             132759  0
kvm                   414070  1 kvm_intel 

If you see the above kernel modules enabled, it means that KVM is enabled on your system.

In order to permanently disable KVM on Ubuntu, add "kvm-intel" to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf as follows.

$ sudo vi /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
# To use VMware Player
blacklist kvm-intel

After rebooting, verify that KVM is diabled. Now you are ready to use VMware Player on Ubuntu Desktop!

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of Xmodulo.com. He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.

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