As part of working with OS X VMs in VMware Fusion and ESXi, I’ve regularly installed the VMware Tools and have even found ways to incorporate their installation into my build process. However, getting the latest VMware Tools installer into my VM building workflow has usually involved at least one manual step or having a system management tool handle the installation for me. I wanted something that was completely automated without needing to also install a system management client. My end goal was that I didn’t have to worry about doing anything; the latest VMware Tools for my OS X VM would just be installed into the VM as part of the build process.
After doing some research and testing, I have a solution that looks like it does just that. For more details, see below the jump.
In the wake of VMware’s release of ESXi 6.0, I upgraded my ESXi 5.5 server to ESXi 6 using the install ISO file. However, it is also possible to perform the upgrade from 5.5 to 6.0 via SSH and esxcli. For more details, see below the jump.
VMware recently released a Virtual Machine Remote Console (VMRC) application for OS X users. This application is designed to complement the browser-based console for vSphere users by providing a native application for launching a remote console session with a vSphere-hosted virtual machine.
A nice bonus is that the VMRC application can also connect to an ESXi server which is using VMware’s free license for ESXi. This provides a way for users of free ESXi to access ESXi-hosted VMs via a remote console session without needing to run either the Windows vSphere client or VMware Fusion Professional. For more details, see below the jump.
As part of moving my ESXi environment from 5.5 to 6.0, I have a 2012 Mac Pro which I’m using to host my OS X test environment for work. As this server is already configured the way I want it, I wanted to do a straight upgrade and preserve my existing settings and datastores. Fortunately, the 2012 Mac Pro is listed on VMware’s hardware compatibility list as being supported hardware.
While ESXi 6.0 is not yet listed as a supported release, I had it on reasonably good authority that I could use the stock ESXi 6.0 installer to upgrade. All I needed to do was get a copy of the ESXi 6.0 installer ISO file from the VMware website and use Disk Utility to burn the ISO file to a CD. For more details, see below the jump.
Something I’ve been doing for a while is running ESXi on my home server setup. Up until now I’ve been running ESXi 5.5.x on a 2011 Mac Mini, but with the release of ESXi 6.0 by VMware, I decided it was time to upgrade to new hardware. I opted to use the 2012 Mac Mini Server over the 2014 Mac Mini because the 2012 Mini Server uses quad-core processors with hyper-threading. Hyper-threading effectively doubles the number of available processors, so I would be upgrading from four available processors on my 2011 Mini to eight available processors on my 2012; in turn doubling the number of virtual machines which I could host and run inside of ESXi.
Unlike my previous installation of ESXi 5.x on a 2011 Mac Mini Server, where I needed to add ethernet drivers to the stock ESXi 5.x installer, ESXi 6.0 will install and work without additional drivers or installer modification needed. All I needed to do was download a copy of the ESXi 6.0 installer ISO file from the VMware website, use Disk Utility to burn the ISO file to a CD and use that to install ESXi 6. For more details, see below the jump.
Being able to virtualize OS X with VMware Fusion has been a great tool for Mac admins, as it allows them to test out new workflows and configurations before committing them to actual Macs. To go along with the convenience, there can be a performance trade-off between VMs and physical Macs, but it’s usually been one where assigning adequate RAM and processors to the VMware Fusion VM usually resulted in decent performance in the VM.
This changed with Yosemite, where the graphics performance in a VM was sluggish and assigning more RAM and processors to a VM did not address the issue. Even ensuring that the VMware Tools were installed did not markedly improve performance. I also saw redraw issue involving windows that had been in the background and hidden behind other windows. These windows were not redrawing correctly when they were selected and brought to the foreground, resulting in parts of windows showing up as being transparent.
On investigation, the root cause of the issue was beam synchronization, which is a technique first introduced in 10.4.x to better handle screen redraw and allow OS X’s window management process to be more efficient. Beam synchronization works fine on Yosemite when running on actual machines, but it is apparently a significant issue when running in a VMware VM.
Fortunately, the answer to the problem is relatively simple – disable beam synchronization. Once that’s done, the performance of an OS X VM running 10.10.x improves dramatically. However, there were two hitches:
- The way to disable it was to use Apple’s Quartz Debug developer tool.
- You had to disable it on every login.
Enter BeamOff, an application designed to do one thing – disable beam synchronization. For more details, see below the jump.
When VMware released VMware Fusion 7 Professional in September 2014, among the new items included in the Features list was this one:
The ability to access virtual machines running on VMware vSphere, VMware ESXi, and VMware Workstation directly from VMware Fusion Pro including:
- Remote display, keyboard, and mouse control
- Ability to select media for CD, DVD, floppy devices, including files on your Mac
- Ability to power virtual machines on and off and configure the network they connect to
- Ability to move virtual machines from your Mac to a remote location by dragging and dropping
- Ability to move virtual machines from a remote location to your Mac by dragging and dropping
- See the state of your remote server with at-a-glance health summary based on Activity Monitor
What this new feature meant for Mac admins was that they now had a native Mac application which they could use when managing virtual machines (VMs) on VMware’s ESXi or vSphere services. The capabilities are not as full-featured as you may find in the Windows VMware vSphere client or the vSphere web client, but they are equivalent to the ESXi or vSphere management capabilities that VMware has been building into VMware Workstation for Windows. For more details, see below the jump.