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Saturday 8 January 2022

A quick-start guide to setting up a Debian guest on VMWare WorkStation 15/16 Player

I don’t know why everything needs to be subtly non-standard, but over the course of the last twenty or so virtual machine reconstructions I’ve come up with a simple checklist for setting up a Debian guest on VMWare’s WorkStation (Windows) and I thought I’d share it here.

  1. Download your Debian .iso here (I recommend the netinst CD image)
  2. Create a new virtual machine using the downloaded .iso and check that the default configuration is satisfactory (I tend to need a little more power, usually 2 CPUs does it for me). Note that increasing the size of a hard disk is for more complicated and risky than a regular user would expect, so give yourself a healthy buffer. In my experience, it’s less painful to rebuild a bigger machine than it is to extend the disk size.
  3. Install the OS — I find the graphical installer to be just fine for my purposes. The two configuration options that are the most impactful are your choice of desktop environment, I usually choose Xfce but I’m starting to like GNOME again. It’s probably a good idea to install the ssh server as well.
  4. Once installation is complete, click the VMWare button at the bottom of the screen to signal that and restart the machine.
  5. To grant yourself the ability to use sudo, open the terminal and run either
    > su -
    > su -c ‘su -’
    if the first isn’t allowed (I’m not sure how to use the correct single quotes in Medium, so note that the above apostrophes aren’t correct).
    Then run
    > usermod -aG sudo <username>
    to add yourself to the sudoers group. You will need to log out and back in for this to take effect.
  6. Install the following to be able to install VMWare Tools, which enables things like copying and pasting between host and guest machines:
    > sudo apt install -y open-vm-tools open-vm-tools-desktop linux-source

Installing VMWare Tools in WorkStation Player 16

Open the Virtual Machine Settings, select the Options tab, then select VMWare Tools: select “Sychronize guest time with host” and “Update automatically”, then restart the virtual machine.

Installing VMWare Tools in WorkStation Player 15

  1. Open the VM menu, select Install VMWare Tools.
  2. Mount the VMWare Tools CD:
    > sudo mount /dev/cdrom
  3. Extract the installer to your current directory (or maybe create a subdirectory for it) using tab auto-complete in place of the ellipse:
    > tar -xf /media/cdrom/VMWareTools…
  4. Install the required build tools:
    > sudo apt-get install -y autoconf automake binutils cpp gcc linux-headers-$(uname -r) make psmisc
  5. Try to run the .pl script in the extracted folder, expect it to fail, restart the machine anyway.

At this point you should have your VM up and running and be able to copy / paste / drag files between your machines. Now go grab yourself another cup of coffee, you deserve it! 


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