Open-VM-Tools (OVT): The Future of VMware Tools for Linux


For those of you who attended my VMworld sessions with Salil Suri, we dropped a hint that there are things happening with Open-VM-Tools (OVT). We at VMware know that vSphere lifecycle is a difficult task to take on and that updating VMware Tools across hundreds or thousands of virtual machines is an ever-increasing burden. There have been some initiatives inside of VMware to help mitigate the amount of work needed to orchestrate this task and I think you all will find very interesting and exciting.

Before we get started, I want to make sure we are all on the same page about what some terms I will be using mean…

a few definitions:

  • OSPs – VMware Tools Operating System Specific Packages – These are VMware Tools packages that were created for specifically for certain operating systems.
  • VMware Tools – a suite of utilities that enhances the performance of a virtual machine’s guest operating system and improves management of the VM.
  • OVT – Open VM Tools – an open version of VMware Tools for Linux (spearheaded by VMware) that can garner community support and updates.

So, you piqued my interest, what’s going on with VMware Tools for Linux?

A while back, we decided to upstream our VMware Tools for Linux to the Linux community and into the Linux kernel main line, allowing our customers to move away from having to manage the lifecycle of VMware tools for your Linux guests. This means that for certain Linux distributions, you will find Open VMTools pre-baked into the Operating system. Furthermore, the VMTools lifecycle management is then placed on the distribution, allowing OVT to be updated in newer versions of each distro as well as in updates/patches to each distro.

Awesome! That’s one less thing on my plate that I have to manage. Which Linux Distributions have OVT included?

Below is a list of all the operating systems that include open-VM-tools as of September 10, 2015:

  • Fedora 19 and later releases
  • Debian 7.x and later releases
  • openSUSE 11.x and later releases
  • Recent Ubuntu releases (12.04 LTS, 13.10 and later)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0 and later releases
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 and later releases
  • CentOS 7 and later releases
  • Oracle Linux 7 and later


With this in mind, as you move to newer Linux distributions in your environment, you should take note to see if the distro you are moving to already includes open-vm-tools.

*Note: OSP tools is discontinued for each linux distribution that has adopted OVT…

VMware Tools status in vSphere is different

virtual machines with open-vm-tools will displayGuest managed” or “3rdParty/unmanaged” in the VMware Tools display of vCenter.

This means that vCenter Server cannot be used to install upgrades of open-vm-tools software in that virtual machine. Instead, you should manage the installation and update of open-vm-tools from within each guest operating system using the native package manager, such as yum or apt. You should expect to get updates of open-vm-tools in sync with the installation of updates and patches in the guest operating system or the virtual appliance. The virtual appliance tools will only update if the appliance OS is patched.
The message Guest managed or 3rdParty/unmanaged does not imply a support status for open-vm-tools or the guest operating system. The support status of operating system releases is published in the VMware Compatibility Guide and open-vm-tools distributed by OS vendor and OS communities for use with certified operating system releases is fully supported by VMware.

Getting Involved

Open-vm-tools can be found on github at We are happy to have individuals get involved with shaping and porting the code to other operating systems. Please check the Github site for more information on how you can contribute to this effort.

Other helpful links

There is a great KB article on VMware’s website that talks all about VMware support for open-vm-tools (2073803)