How to Install Open VM Tools on Debian 10 / 11

Sometimes you may want to install Debian desktop or server on a virtual machine. However, you may have realized that communication between the host and the VM machine doesn’t exist. Luckily, many distributions now carry the open-source VM tools that can be used for many of the most popular Virtual Machine products such as VMware.

In the following small tutorial, you will learn how to install these tools on your Debian 10 Buster or Debian 11 Bullseye server or desktop environment.


Update Operating System

Update your Debian operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status.

To verify sudo status on your account:

sudo whoami

Example output showing sudo status:

[joshua@debian~]$ sudo whoami

To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on Adding a User to Sudoers on Debian.

To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.


Install Open VM Tools Package

To install Open VM Tools on Debian is quite simple. The tutorial will demonstrate installing the tools on both server and desktop.

In your terminal, execute the following command.

To install Open VM Tools Desktop:

sudo apt install open-vm-tools-desktop

To install Open VM Tools Server:

sudo apt install open-vm-tools

Example output (Using Desktop version):

Alternatively, you can install the dev version if needed; however, this would only be required by a small userbase.

sudo apt install open-vm-tools-dev

Once complete, you need to reboot your PC for the changes to take effect, and this can be done quickly while in your terminal.


Verify the Installation

Once back inside, verify that everything is in working order using the following command.

apt-cache policy open-vm-tools*

Example output:

As above, depending on the version you have installed, it should be visible as the highlighted example.

Comments and Conclusion

In the following tutorial, you have learned how to install Open VM Tools on Debian 10 Buster or on the newer stable release Debian 11 Bullseye. Overall, Open VM Tools are not needed unless you use a VM Machine for your distribution.


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