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VMware Tools Community Module Introduction

VMware Tools is a collection of in-guest drivers and agents that optimize performance and increase the manageability for VMs within vSphere environments. Guess what, PowerCLI provides a way to automate the management of the VMware Tools lifecycle! Even better, a new module was recently entered into the PowerCLI Community Repository to help make those management tasks even easier than before!

The module includes a collection of over 10 different advanced functions! These include the following:

Get-VMByToolsInfo Retrieves the virtual machines with specified VMTools info.
Get-VMToolsGuestInfo Retrieves the guest info of specified virtual machines.
Get-VMToolsInfo Retrieves the VMTools version and build number info of specified virtual machines.
Get-VMToolsInstallLastError Retrieves the error code of last VMTools installation on specified virtual machines.
Get-VMToolsUpgradePolicy Gets the VMTool’s upgrade policy of specified virtual machines.
Invoke-VMToolsListProcessInVM Lists the running processes in the virtual machine.
Invoke-VMToolsUpgradeInVMs Upgrades VMTools to the version bundled by ESXi host.
Invoke-VMToolsVIBInstall Installs VMTool VIB in specified ESXi hosts.
Set-VMToolsUpgradePolicy Sets the VMTool’s upgrade policy to either “manual” or “upgradeAtPowerCycle” of specified virtual machines.
Update-VMToolsConfInVM Updates the tools.conf content in guest OS.
Update-VMToolsImageLocation Updates the /productLocker link in an ESXi host directly

Let’s take a look at how to get started using this great module.

Accessing the Module

There are a couple ways to get access to this great module, all of which go through the PowerCLI Community Repository. One of the easiest ways is to load up the repository’s page, click on the green ‘Clone or download’ button, then clicking on ‘Download ZIP’. This downloads the entire contents of the repository to your local system.

Download PowerCLI Community Repository to Local System

Once the download is complete, unzip the files and browse to the ‘Modules’ directory. We are now going to copy the VMToolsManagement folder and paste it in one of the directories that are listed in the PSModulePath variable. Doing this allows the module to be available for automatic importing by your PowerShell session!

By default, the PSModulePath variable contains the following directories:

  • $home\Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules
  • $pshome\Modules

In my environment, I have placed the module in the first of the above options. This is also where my PowerCLI modules are available.

Extracted Module Placed in a PSModulePath sourced location

One item to keep in mind, the ‘Update-VMToolsImageLocation’ does require the usage of an ESXi host’s SSH service. Therefore, the SSH service on the ESXi host must be running as well as having an SSH library on your local system.

Module Usage

There are a couple functions that make it really easy and straight forward to retrieve VMware Tools information from VMs in the environment. These functions accept VM input from either direct VM parameter usage or pipeline. Here’s example output from the following advanced functions:

  • Get-VMToolsInfo
  • Get-VMToolsGuestInfo
  • Get-VMToolsInstallLastError

Example of retrieving VMware Tools information from a VM

There’s a very versatile function which allows us to query our environment for specific information about the state of VMware Tools on our VMs. This advanced function is ‘Get-VMByToolsInfo’ and has a couple nice parameters to help us out. The first parameter is ‘Tools Version’ which displays only VMs which contain the specified version. The next parameter is ‘ToolsRunningStatus’ which displays only VMs which are of the specified running state. The last parameter is ‘ToolsVersionStatus’ which displays only VMs that are of a certain status. The last two parameters feature tab complete functionality for each of their inputs.

Here are examples of a couple commands I ran within my environment:
Example of retrieving VMs by VMware Tools configuration

Let’s move on past simply retrieving information now. There are two functions which allow us to both retrieve and manage the upgrade policy for VMs. This can be done with the following advanced functions:

  • Get-VMToolsUpgradePolicy
  • Set-VMToolsUpgradePolicy

The Set-VMToolsUpgradePolicy allows us to modify the upgrade policy for a VM with the ‘UpgradePolicy’ parameter. This parameter also allows for tab completion between the two accepted policies. Here’s an example of those two functions in action:
Example of configuring the VMware Tools Upgrade Policy for a VM

We also have the ability to change the VMware Tools logging level. This is something that is normally done internally on the guest system but, through the magic of PowerCLI, we can now do this remotely with the ‘Set-VMToolsConfInVM’ advanced function! This function features a ‘LogLevel’ parameter which handles the changing of log level. Tab completion is available for this parameter as well. Additional information about configuring these settings can be found in KB 1007873. One note about this function, be aware of what the permissions are on the local system. Certain OSes can be touchy about modifying files within the folders where these configuration files are held.

Example of modifying the VMware Tools logging level

This module wouldn’t be complete without the ability to also upgrade a system’s VMware Tools too! This is accomplished with the ‘Invoke-VMToolsUpgradeInVMs’ advanced function. Here’s an example of it in action:
Example of upgrading the VMware Tools on a specified VM

Lastly, there are two functions that help to manage VMware Tools’ accessibility directly from ESXi hosts! The ‘Update-VMToolsImageLocation’ advanced function allows us to change the location of where VMware Tools are stored for ESXi hosts. For example, we could store the VMware Tools and floppy files on a datastore instead of the local system! One other nice feature of this function, there is no reboot required for the configuration update to go into effect. Then, there is the ‘Invoke-VMToolsVIBInstall’ advanced function. This function allows us to install and make available updated versions of VMware Tools out of the normal ESXi update lifecycle.

Here’s an example of updating an ESXi host with a newer version of VMware tools by way of a VIB:
Example of updating the VMware Tools version that's available on the ESXi host

Summary

The VMToolsManagement module is a terrific resource for any administrator needing to get quick and easy access to manage the lifecycle of VMware Tools in their environment. This module comes packed with over 10 different advanced function to handle a majority of the tasks admins face.

Head out to the PowerCLI Community Repository, download it, and let us know in the comments how you’re putting it to use in your environment!

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Kyle Ruddy

About Kyle Ruddy

Kyle Ruddy is a Senior Technical Marketing Architect working for VMware R&D in the Cloud Platform Business Unit. Kyle currently focuses on vSphere and VMware Cloud on AWS automation and the associated automation frameworks including all things API, CLI, and SDK. Kyle is also a Microsoft MVP and long-term vExpert whom can be found blogging on VMware blogs, http://blogs.vmware.com/vSphere and http://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI, and his personal blog, https://www.kmruddy.com. His Twitter: @kmruddy

5 thoughts on “VMware Tools Community Module Introduction

  1. jkavanagh58

    I must be doing something wrong. Module not signed and when I change the executionpolicy I receive errors line 1222 character 64

    Reply
    1. Kyle RuddyKyle Ruddy Post author

      Looks like a bad set of quotes. I’ve updated the module in GitHub. Please grab a new copy and let me know if you are still having trouble importing the module.

      Thanks for the heads up!

      Reply
  2. Chris Sprinkle

    Any way to get this module through the *-Module cmdlets?

    Reply
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