How to start VMware server remote console without web interface

In VMware Server, console access for virtual machines (VMs) is obtained by using VM remote console plug-in of web browsers. However, as VMware Server is no longer supported by VMware, its remote console plug-in has not been usable in the latest web browsers. For example, VM remote console plug-in is broken for Firefox version 3.6 and higher. When you attempt to launch VM console window on the latest Firefox via console plugin, you will get an error saying:

Cannot access virtual machine console. The request timed out.

Given this situation, if you would like to have console access to your VM created by VMware Server, there are two ways to do it. The first option is to install an old version (e.g., 3.5.x) of Firefox, to be able to use VM remote console plug-in on it. The other method is to run a remote console access program, standalone, without going through web browser. In the following, I'll describe the second method.

First, connect to a VMware Server host via ssh with X11 tunneling option. This is to launch VM console access program on the VMware Server host remotely. Note that the remote host must have X11 forwarding enabled first (i.e., "X11Forwarding yes" in /etc/ssh/sshd_config).

$ ssh -X user@vmware_server_ip_address

Now, check the names of VMs located on the VMware Server host, using vmrun. You need to know the name of your VM in order to launch console access program for the VM. In this example, there are a total of three VMs on the host as follows.

$ vmrun -T server -h https://127.0.0.1:8333/sdk -u [login_user] -p [login_pass] list
Total running VMs: 3
[standard] vm1/vm1.vmx
[standard] vm2/vm2.vmx
[standard] vm3/vm3.vmx

In the above, [login_user] and [login_pass] are login credentials for VMware Server. Now, extract remote console program from local VMware Server installation as follows.

$ mkdir vmx
$ cd vmx
$ unzip /usr/lib/vmware/webAccess/tomcat/apache-tomcat-6.0.16/webapps/ui/plugins/vmware-vmrc-linux-x64.xpi

In the above, I assume that VMware Server is installed on 64-bit machine. For 32-bit system, use "vmware-vmrc-linux-x86.xpi" instead.

$ ls
components install.js install.rdf plugins

Once you unzip vmware-vmrc-linux-x64.xpi, you will see "plugins" directory, in which remote console program (i.e., vmware-vmrc) exists. Run the remote console program as follows.

$ cd plugins
$ ./vmware-vmrc -h 127.0.0.1:8333 -u [login_user] -p [login_pass] "[standard] vm1/vm1.vmx"

Note that the last argument ("[standard] vm1/vm1.vmx") is the name of VM that you would like to access, which you find out earlier.

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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.

3 thoughts on “How to start VMware server remote console without web interface

  1. I did everything in this post, but when I run o ./vmware-vmrc, I got the following message:

    Configuring libraries for first use
    Configured ./libconf/etc/pango/pangox.aliases
    Configured ./libconf/etc/pango/pango.modules
    Configured ./libconf/etc/pango/pangorc
    Configured ./libconf/etc/fonts/fonts.dtd
    Configured ./libconf/etc/fonts/fonts.conf
    Configured ./libconf/etc/fonts/local.conf
    Configured ./libconf/etc/gtk-2.0/gtkrc
    Configured ./libconf/etc/gtk-2.0/gtk.immodules
    Configured ./libconf/etc/gtk-2.0/Clearlooks.gtkrc
    Configured ./libconf/etc/gtk-2.0/gdk-pixbuf.loaders
    ./lib/wrapper-gtk24.sh: 26: 0: not found
    Configuration successful

    (vmware-vmrc:22415): Gtk-WARNING **: cannot open display:

    What's wrong?

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