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.

2 Answers 2


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 distribution has a VMware Tools package in its repositories, it is based on Open VM Tools and 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.

  • I see, so something like the VMCI is most likely proprietary, while the e1000e driver might not be. Right? Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 6:16
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Nov 6, 2011 at 13:26
  • How can I find out which drivers/applications are included in vmware-tools but not in open-vm-tools?
    – netvope
    Commented Nov 12, 2011 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
    Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 13:44
  • 1
    It's a great bonus of having open-vm-tools package managed and updated by your distro if you manage over 90 virtual machines... You can just upgrade the tools with rest of the the system, instead of mounting custom vmware tools ISO (or downloading it, for that matter) each update. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 8:29

In recent versions of VMware, it recommends the use of open-vm-tools

This is the KB http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2073803

Which basically said:

VMware recommends using open-vm-tools redistributed by operating system vendors.

This of course based on the compatibility guide.

Modern Linux distros also includes VMware drivers directly in the kernel and VMware recommends and support this drivers.

VMware actively maintains the source code for VMware paravirtual drivers and kernel modules upstream in the mainline kernel.org tree for Linux.

So you can feel safe using open-vm-tools.

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