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What is the difference between the Open-VM-Tools package and the tool that come with VMware ESX/ESXi?

The wondering this because the ones from VMware are not compiled for anything but RPM and I use Debian. In the past I just compiled them on each machine as per VMware instructions.

But there are a few things I was messing with, like a UTM software called Untangle. And to avoid issues related to opening Untangle up to the vanilla repos I was wanting to try a stab at the Open-VM tools.

Any help would be appreciated.

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1 Answer

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The VMware Tools package that ships with VMware products contains both open source and closed source components. The Open VM Tools packages is just the open source subset of the VMware Tools package. In general, you can expect that Open VM Tools will provide the same basic features that VMware Tools does, but there may be a few extra things that VMware Tools includes. Also, if your Linux distro has a VMware Tools package in it's repositories, it is based on Open VM Tools an not VMware Tools.

UPDATE: Earlier I was reluctant to be specific about what code was in open-vm-tools vs VMware Tools because the set changes. That's still true, but I found a list from the open-vm-tools website, so I though I would include that here.

The open-vm-tools FAQ says the following about what code it contains vs VMWare Tools:

All of the non-experimental kernel modules and user level applications that have been developed solely by VMware are being released. Certain experimental drivers are planned for future release. VMware will encourage 3rd parties to release their contributions under the GPL.

More specifically:

  • Drivers for devices and filesystems access
  • Memory ballooning
  • Shared folders
  • Drag and Drop, Text and File Copy/Paste
  • Clipboard sharing
  • Disk wiping and shrinking
  • Time synchronization
  • Automatic guest screen resolution resizing
  • GuestInfo (provides statistics about guest environment)
  • Guest SDK (provides information about the VM)
  • Soft power operations
  • Multiple monitor support
  • GTK Toolbox UI

Again, this set changes over time. As new functionality is released via VMware Tools, it may take some time for it to find it's way to open-vm-tools, or it may not make it there at all if VMware is unable to release it.

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I see, so something like the VMCI is most likely proprietary, while the e1000e driver might not be. Right? –  Solignis Nov 6 '11 at 6:16
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@Solignis: In general, you should expect most drivers to be in Open VM Tools, including VMCI. The e1000 driver isn't provided by VMware. Presenting the virtual NIC as an e1000 was done because the real NIC is so common and every major OS already has a driver for it. –  kbyrd Nov 6 '11 at 13:26
    
How can I find out which drivers/applications are included in vmware-tools but not in open-vm-tools? –  netvope Nov 12 '11 at 4:06
    
@netvope: Ok, I've put up the information from the open-vm-tools FAQ. It's disappointing you all find this answer relevant enough to comment on but not good enough to upvote. –  kbyrd Nov 12 '11 at 13:44
    
@kbyrd: I didn't upvote because I think your answer was too general. I've upvoted your new answer, which suggests the only differences between the two are that open-vm-tools lacks experimental drivers, may lag behind vmware-tools in new functionality, and does not include software that are not solely developed by VMware. –  netvope Nov 13 '11 at 5:59
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