How to keep VMware TOOLS up-to-date?

Update VMware Tools?

You might have heard in autumn 2015 that VMware is de-coupling VMware Tools from virtualisation solutions. This means VMware Tools will be released separately and the latest VMware Tools will be compatible with all platforms, this means the latest VMware Tools will work with Workstation, Fusion, and all ESXi versions (5.X, and 6.X).

This is especially useful if you are in an upgrade scenario, with rolling upgrades – so you can update VMware Tools even before you upgrade the your first ESXi hosts…

The downside of this new strategy is, that having a new ESXi version (or an update version) will NOT give you the guarantee to have the latest VMware Tools version.

How does this work with VMware Tools?? – Just 4 easy steps!

VMware does not deliver a fully automated way to get the latest tools – VMware Update Manager is not yet able to download and update the VMware Tools source of the ESXi hosts.

But it is not too much work to deliver the latest Tools to existing ESXi hosts, which again will allow to follow the known Update options for VMware Tools in a vSphere environment.

The important thing to know is, how does ESXi host “know” that installed tools are “old”, and where are the tools taken from, when doing automatic updates?

That’s pretty easy: By default, ESXi includes VMware Tools under the /productLocker folder (which is actually a Symlink to the location on it’s local storage..)

Instead of copying the latest Tools version to all ESXi hosts, there is an advanced parameter, to point all hosts to a repository on shared storage.

  • Create a directory on a shared datastore (preferably called productLocker)
  • get the latest “VMware Tools” from the “Drivers & Tools” section of your ESXi download page: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_vsphere/6_0#drivers_tools
  • Copy the content of the latest VMware Tools ZIP or TAR archive to the directory on your shared datastore (content of productLocker must be the two directories “floppies” and “vmtools” containing the latest versions.
  • Change the advanced Setting on every ESXi host: UserVars.ProductLockerLocation to pointing to the shared storage path (example value: /vmfs/volumes/ShareDatastoreName/productLocker) – note that the value is CASE SENSITIVE!!! – ShareDatastoreName is the name of your shared datastore  – This location will also be used by Update Manager when you prefer to use Update Manager for automatic VM updates…..

As soon as the host reboots – the new location will be vaild.

There is a powershell script – which is not supported by VMware – which will automate the whole process see: http://www.vtagion.com/automate-vmware-tools-shared-product-locker-configuration/ – you can either use the script as is or just copy the parts you need to automate for your environment…

Thanks to Brian Graf for the above information!

It is even possible to make the path change without rebooting – this requires the change of the symbolic link on the ESXi filesystem.

(details can be found on Brian Graf’s Blog post if needed https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2015/09/vmware-tools-lifecycle-why-tools-can-drive-you-crazy-and-how-to-avoid-it.html

The details of the above steps can be found on this blog post: https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2015/11/updating-to-vmware-tools-10-must-read.html BUT DO NOT USE THE TOOLS Download link of this blog page as it will lead you to Tools 10.0.0 !!) –

I hope this information will help you to keep your VMware Tools in a healthy and updated stage.

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2 Responses to How to keep VMware TOOLS up-to-date?

  1. Adam says:

    When it comes time to update the shared productLocker to a newer version of tools. Do you simply delete and copy in the new files?

    Is there another step that is needed? Or with every replacement of files a reboot is required on the hosts?

    • VMWerni says:

      Hi Adam,

      Yes just replace the contents. After your next rescan of tools version or reboot of VMs the new tools will been seen. So no need to reboot the ESXi host.

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