Installing Fedora 18 (RTM) to VMWare Fusion 5 or VMWare Workstation 9

I always live in hope that just one day, the folks over at Fedora will actually have a pain free VMWare installation. Not to be. Here’s how to do it with the minimal gnashing of teeth.

Bugs that get you before anything else

On VMWare Fusion 5, currently Fedora 18 x86_64 Live DVD’s graphical installer will boot and then gets stuck at a blue GUI screen if you have 3D acceleration turned on (which is the default if you choose Linux / Fedora 64 bit).

  • Virtual Machine -> Settings -> Display -> disable 3D acceleration.

We’ll come back to this after the installation of VMWare Tools

Installing Fedora 18 in VMWare Fusion / VMWare Workstation 8

The installation is pretty straight forward … as long as you can see it.

The only non-default choice I’d like you to change is to set your standard user up to be in the administrators group (it’s a checkbox during installation). Being in the administrators group allows sudo to run. If you don’t want to do this, drop sudo from the beginning of all of the commands below, and use “su -” to get a root shell instead. 

The new graphical installer still has a few bugs:

  • Non-fatal – On the text error message screen (Control-Alt-F2) there’s an error message from grub2 (still!) about grub2 file not found /boot/grub2/locale/ This will not prevent installation, so just ignore it for now (which the Fedora folks have for a couple of releases!). Go back to the live desktop screen by using Control-Alt-F1
  • PITA – Try not to move the installer window offscreen as it’s difficult to finish the installation if even a little off screen. If you get stuck, press tab until you hit the “Next” button – or just reboot and start again
Update Fedora 18

Once you have Fedora installed, login and open a terminal window (Activities -> type in “Terminal”)

sudo yum update
sudo reboot
sudo yum install kernel-devel kernel-headers gcc make
sudo reboot

Fix missing kernel headers

At least for now, VMware Tools 9.2.2 build-893683 will moan about a path not found error for the kernel headers. Let’s go ahead and fix that for you:

sudo cp /usr/include/linux/version.h /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build/include/linux/

NB: The backtick (`) executes the command “uname -r” to make the above work no matter what your kernel version is.

NB: Some highly ranked and well meaning instructions want you to install the x86_64 or PAE versions of kernel devel or kernel headers when trying to locate the correct header files. This is not necessary for the x86_64 kernel on Fedora 18, which I am assuming you’re using as nearly everything released by AMD or Intel for the last six years is 64 bit capable. Those instructions might be relevant to your interests if you are using the 32 bit i686 version or PAE version of Fedora 18.

Mount VMWare Tools

Make sure you have the latest updates installed in VMWare before proceeding!

  • Virtual Machine -> Install VMWare Tools

Fedora 18 mounts removable media in a per-user specific location (/run/media/<username>/<volume name>), so you need to know your username and the volume name

Build VMWare Tools

Click on Activities, and type Terminal

tar zxf /run/media/`whoami`/VMware\ Tools/VMw*.tar.gz
cd vmware-tools-distrib
sudo ./

Make sure everything compiled okay, and if so, restart:

sudo reboot

NB: The backtick (`) executes the command “whoami” to make the above work no matter what your username is.

No 3D Acceleration oh noes!1!! Install Cinnamon or Mate

Now, all the normal VMWare Tools will work. Unfortunately, after all the faffing about, I didn’t manage working 3D acceleration. I ended up installing something a bit lighter than Gnome 3.6, which requires hardware 3D acceleration.

  • Activities -> Software -> Packages -> Cinnamon for a more modern desktop appearance or 
  • Activities -> Software -> Packages -> MATE for old school Gnome 2 desktop appearance
  • Apply 
  • Logout 
  • From the session pull down, change across to Cinnamon or Mate and log back in
When VMWare updates support Tools to support Fedora 18 or vice versa, I’d still suggest Cinnamon over Gnome 3.6. Gnome 3.6 sucks way less than earlier Gnome 3.x releases, but that’s no great compliment. YMMV and you may really like Gnome 3.6, but without 3D support, it’s going to be painful. 

Published by vanderaj

Just another security geek

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  1. Nice! You covered most of the issues I was having. The big remaining one is that installing kernel-devel and kernel-headers actually installs 3.7.2-201.fc18 whereas the the operating kernel is 3.6.10-4.fc18. The repo versions don’t match the running kernel. Did you manually upgrade your kernel or did you happen to get the correct kernel headers from the repo when you wrote this?

    I share your frustration.

  2. That’s why I ran “yum update” and rebooted before I installed the headers and devel packages as I know from past experience unless you are doing this on day one or two of a release, there’s going to be a new kernel package.

    Unlike many distros, Fedora does not backport kernel fixes and features, it goes with their favored modern version, which is a good idea for a project designed to be on the bleeding edge, but can be painful for instructions like this.

  3. Thanks so much for this write up! One note: If you run the installer, and then run into the kernel headers issue, and then, like me, realize you forgot the copy step: Don’t just open another terminal and do the copy of the version.h file – it may not work. I had to re-start the installer from the /usr/bin/ step

  4. Thanks for this blog post.

    I notice that vmw_pvscsi.ko is not loaded: lsmod | grep pvscsi
    The VM is running with mptscsi instead.

    This is on Linux (kernel) 3.8.1
    I verified that the vmw_pvscsi.ko module is in the initramfs.
    Using modprobe vmw_pvscsi loads it and puts a message in dmesg.
    Are you seeing this too? Any suggestions about what to do about it?

  5. Thanks for replying. Today I upgraded from VMware Fusion 5.0.2 to 5.0.3 and re-installed vmware-tools into my Fedora 18 VM from scratch. The version of vmware-tools had not changed. I applied the vmci linux-3.8_vmic_hotplug_struct.patch from and turned on the module loading feature. The vmw_pvscsi module was not loaded and LSI Fusion MPT SCSI was still being used.
    I also tried turning on the host-guest module it failed to compile.
    Again I ask: are you seeing this too? Does vmw_pvscsi load for you? Do you feel like disk I/O on a Fedora 18 VM is slower than it was with older versions?


    It appears that the native 3D acceleration has been fixed with the newest stable version of Mesa3D. Now, I am somewhat wet behind the ears when it comes to linux (I use these vmware VMs to “practice”; I can break it without destroying my stable host system lol) This is in regards to the same 3D accel. issue right? The fix is almost 2 months old now so you guys probably already know about it but I’m just making sure I am on the right track before I destroy my VM setup!

  7. Thanks for the great post. It solved all the issues that I had. Just one note, the 3D acceleration is now working for me! Maybe it has to do with the updates to kernel and or Fusion and VMware tools.

  8. Ken,

    I’ve re-installed F18 just to make completely sure my instructions are right. Like you, I recently updated to VMWare Fusion 5.0.3 running with latest VMWare Tools for Linux (9.2.2-893683) on MacOS X 10.8.3.

    I am using the F18 x86 Live DVD (Fedora-18-x86_64-Live-Desktop.iso, about 960.5 MB in size) as the installation media. It only allowed me to install the latest kernel headers, so I had to update the running kernel from 3.6.10-4.fc18 to 3.8.4-202.fc18 to match the installed source and headers. This required a reboot before I could begin compilation.

    I found two patches that are relevant to our interests here:

    I applied the vmware9.k3.8rc4.patch and vmware9.compat_mm.patch to the module source files within vmware-distrib-tools (as described in his post), and things worked out for me completely automatically for both VMCI and HGFS file sharing. Everything seems to work, including cut-n-paste and dynamic screen resizing, other than 3D acceleration. There must have been a window post Fedora 18 release where 3.6 kernels were around as the latest kernels, rather than 3.8.x. The problems with VMCI and HGFS start with 3.8.0 series kernels. Hopefully, a future Linux guest tools will work out of the box with F18.


  9. Quick tip: If you want to avoid the huge yum update, you can update just what you need. Compared to updating just what I needed, yum update made my vm explode in size from 5gb to 8.5gb! These are the minimum updates I needed to replace “yum update”.

    yum install audit glibc kernel

  10. Brian, thanks for the tip, which I am sure will help a few out there who need small VMs, but I am a patch monster – most of my VMs are pets and not cattle, so I keep ’em around for a while.

    Patching insecure apps and insecure OS components is #2 and #3 on the DSD Top 35 Strategic Mitigations, and I practice what I preach.

  11. “Installing Fedora 18 (RTM) to VMWare Fusion 5 or VMWare Workstation 9 | cat slave diary” was a extremely
    good article, . Continue writing and I’ll try to keep following! I appreciate it -Cindy

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