Posted by: Rick Vanover
Rick Vanover, Virtualization, VMware ESX, Windows Computing
With all of the migration strategies available to the virtualization host administrators, it is easy to overlook the guest operating system details. When it comes to upgrading or installing VMWare Tools, the idea of touching every server interactively is not very appealing. For a Windows guest operating system (OS) on a domain, a group policy object can be one of your quickest options for getting the tools installed.
Some Guidelines for Installing VMWare Tools through Group Policy
The VMWare Tools are available for your guest OS as an .ISO CD-ROM file. Find the file, and get access to it from another system. Open the CD .ISO file or write it to disk and retrieve the files. Be sure to place them in a share accessible to the systems you want to install VMWare Tools with an indicator of the version. For example, \\SERVER1\Applications\VmwareTools\ESX3.02\ would indicate that this path would hold VMWare Tools for guest OSs on ESX server 3.02. Be sure to use the correct version of VMWare Tools with the corresponding guest OS if you have different VMWare host platforms in use. Each version of VMWare tools is optimized with the version provided with the installation.
Making the GPO
To make a new Group Policy Object (GPO) that would install the VMWare tools do the following from the Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc):
-Select the Organizational Unit (OU) you want to install VMWare tools
-Expand Computer Configuration
-Expand Software Configuration
-Click Software Installation
-In the right pane, select “New-Package”
-Browse to the VMWare Tools.msi file in your shared path
-Sending the package to “Assigned” will install the VMWare Tools package on the next refresh of the policy on the systems in the OU to which this GPO is linked.
-Once the package is listed, rename it from “VMWare Tools” to something more clear like “VMWare Tools – Windows – ESX 3.02″
-Once this is complete the VMWare tools will install on the server on the next boot without interaction. The Windows event log will have an entry similar to the following:
The install of application VMWare Tools - Windows - ESX 3.02 from policy Default Domain Policy succeeded.
Changes to software installation settings were applied successfully.
Upgrades to VMWare Tools
In the situation where hosts are upgraded and guest OSs are moved dynamically, upgrading the VMWare Tools through the same fashion can be done as well. Be sure to use the version of the tools again in the package, and remove the old one if needed. Some proper testing is of course due, and a best practice would be to set up a test OU to apply the VMWare tools package before rolling out to more virtual machines.