Thursday, May 12, 2016

VMTools Installer Doesn't Appear on a Windows VM

Look. I know what you're thinking.

"Really? A blog post about VMTools? Good lord, man. Write about something interesting already."

Well, the truth is that what many of us consider boring, pedestrian, mundane, and trivial is actually a big deal to the vast majority of vSphere users out there. So shut up already. If you know everything, why are you even here in the first place? Shouldn't you be working on your second VCDX?

(NB: That's awfully defensive, I know. I'm probably sorry, if that makes you feel any better.)

On to the post.

Hey, VM admin! Have you ever encountered a VM that has a VMware Tools status of Not running (Not installed), selected "Install/Upgrade VMware Tools," and then wondered why the installer didn't launch on the VM's desktop? It's weird, right?

I recently ran into a strange configuration problem on three VMs that took me a few minutes to unravel. And because I haven't posted in a month, and because maybe someone else will run into the same issue and can save a minute, I'm sharing this story with you, dear readers.

The Symptom

You're logged in via Remote Desktop to a VM, and although you've initiated the VMTools installer from the vSphere Client (or Web Client, but you know you still use and love the vSphere Client), you don't see the nice little installer pop-up on the VM's desktop. You confirmed that the VMTools install is in progress from vSphere's perspective, and you can see that the ISO is connected and mapped to the image properly. And still, no trace of the installer on your VM.

In my case, it turns out that the virtual optical drive was disabled on these VMs. Further inspection revealed that the template had this configuration, so all VMs deployed from said template inherited this problem. Annoying.

The Fix

The fix is simple.

  1. Open Device Manager on your VM.
  2. Expand the DVD/CD-ROM drives element, and you'll see that the virtual devices is disabled (it's the little downward arrow that indicates a disabled state).
  3. Right-click that MFer and select Enable.
  4. Open Windows Explorer, and you'll see the VMTools image mounted and ready.

VMTools is good stuff. I mean, the drivers and all are great. And who doesn't love a little vmxnet3? But most importantly, you'll never have to CTRL + ALT out of your VM consoles ever again.

Sometimes, it's the little things.