Install Linux Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with Open-VM-Tools

In this article we are going to cover the main steps to install Linux Ubuntu in a VMware environment. In particular this will focus on the configuration steps within a VMware vSphere environment including the setup for Open-VM-tools.

What I really like about this installation is the fact that this particular VM will sit on the HPE StoreVirtual Datastore. Not only this. also the fact I will re-utilise this VM again as Linux Backup Repository for Veeam Backup & Replication in my home lab.

Last but least also the option to install the Veeam Agent to test Backup and Restore. Now the fact this is a VM does not limit the option to install a “physical agent” in order to protect this particular VM. In fact Veeam Agents can also be used for virtual workloads running into the Cloud. Let’s say for example we want to protect  virtual machines running in Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS we still have the option to deploy the Veeam Agent on such VMs and leverage the Backup and Restore operations as intended.

So there are plenty of reasons why I like this deployment. On a final note, it is important to also install the VMware tools or the Open-VM-Tools (OVT). The difference? A while back VMware decided to upstream their VMware-tools to the Linux Community. Now the major Linux OS distributions can bake in their kernel the updated versions of such tools to enhance the Virtual Machine performances. As a result they are a lot easier to install (as part of the main OS updates) and can get the advantage to update to the latest stable version as per Community feedback.

For the standard OS distributions there is still the option to install the built-in VMware-tools or use the ones from the Community. No method is better than the other and really depends on the operational needs. More on this in a separate article. Let’s now focus on the Linux Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS installation on VMware vSphere.


Deploy Linux Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on VMware

First of all we need to obtain the ISO to perform the installation. At the time of writing I decided to use the 32-Bit version of the Linux Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS. There are different locations with pertinent mirrors available at this download page. The reason for this choice include less RAM Memory requirements for the Guest OS and the full support to use this Linux Ubuntu as a Backup Repository which requires the Perl module (32-Bit). Let’s copy the installation ISO into a Datastore the VMware Host can easily use.

Next step is to create a new Virtual Machine as per screenshot below.

Linux Ubuntu create vm

Let’s define a Name for the Virtual Machine and spcify the location into the vCenter infrastructure where this will be located.

Linux Ubuntu new vm

In this step we can choose the VMware Host associated with new Linux Ubuntu Virtual Machine.

Linux Ubuntu vm host

At this point we define which Datastore will host this VM. As per previous notes I will choose the HPE StoreVirtual Storage.

Linux Ubuntu vm datastore

In this step we define the Virtual Machine compatibility level. Let’s leave the default value to benefit with the compatibility with the latest platforms.

Linux Ubuntu vm version

At this point we need to specify the OS family and the OS version. As stated above I will go for a Linux Ubuntu (32-Bit).

Linux Ubuntu vm os

In this step of the wizard we can customize the Virtual Hardware configuration. In my example I will use the following:

  • 1 vCPU
  • 2GB of RAM Memory
  • 20GB Primary Virtual Hard Disk

Will then add the mappings for the Network and the location to the ISO file.

Linux Ubuntu vm config

A final screen on the wizard shows the summary of the setting before amending changes. Let’s review and adjust where necessary.

Linux Ubuntu vm summary

At this point we are ready to connect to the Linux Ubuntu VM and start the installation using the Remote Console.

Install Linux Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS

As soon as the wizard is complete and the details correct, the virtual machine will boot from the ISO.

Linux Ubuntu remote console

We have two options here. Try or install Linux Ubuntu. Let’s go for the full install.

Linux Ubuntu vm install

If our home lab as provides connectivity to this VM I would recommend to download and automatically install updates during the installation process. In my case I won’t need to use the option about third-party software. Of course this can be changed at a later time.

Linux Ubuntu prepare install

Let’s erase the virtual Hard disk on order to install and create its own partitions. Should we want to use encryption and LVM we can choose this ones now to take advantage of the full drive. For this particular purpose I will leave them unchecked.

Linux Ubuntu vm install type

At this point let’s accept the suggested partitioning. Otherwise we can specify separate partitions for Root, Home, Swap and other important system folders.

Linux Ubuntu vm disk

From this screen we can select the current location that will help with the configuration of the NTP and other dependant services.

Linux Ubuntu location

In this screen we configure the keyboard layout. In case it can be customised later after the installation completes.

Linux Ubuntu vm keyboard

It’s now time to create the first user account. More settings can be defined later on when the installation completes.

Linux Ubuntu vm user

At this point the Linux Ubuntu installer has all the information to format the Drives, create the partitions and install the Operating System. This process won’t take long and will also show the latest features included in the current release.

Linux Ubuntu vm install


Install Linux Ubuntu Open-VM-Tools

At this point we are ready to install the VM Tools. With Ubuntu we have two options: we can install the VMware Tools bundled with the Host Hypervisor or use the Open-VM-Tools. In my case for the reasons mentioned above I have decided to use the Open-VM-tools from the Community.

The installation is pretty easy and uses the command line. So let’s start the Terminal with a right click on the GNOME Desktop. We need to run an update of the packages that can be installed from the online distribution repositories. We can achieve this by issuing the command:

sudo apt-get update

It is important to run this command with a root user or with elevated rights using “sudo”.

Linux Ubuntu apt-get

As soon as we type in the password the APT engine will refresh the packages information from the pre-configured distribution sources.

Linux Ubuntu apt-get update

In the next step let’s use the APT engine to search for the VM tools. If we don’t know the exact package name we can simple search for it by typing:

apt-cache search vmware tools

This will return all combinations as per screenshot below. the name of our package is open-vm-tools.

Linux Ubuntu apt-cache

Let’s install the VM tools by issuing the following command with elevated rights:

sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools.

Linux Ubuntu apt-get install open-vm-tools

The APT engine will now go onto the Source Repository to get the latest release of Open-VM-Tools including the dependencies that are required to successfully install this package. During this phase it is also suggesting the installation of open-vm-tools-desktop. This version adds capabilities of the tools when interacting through a GUI. For example to copy and paste content to and from the VM Guest. In my case these features aren’t necessary. Definitely I can install or upgrade them a t a later time.

Linux Ubuntu open-vm-tools

As soon as the installation is complete I would recommend to restart the VM with a simple reboot or shutdown -r now commands.

This process is very quick. Now we can check the status of the Open-VM-Tools installation with the following command:

/etc/init.d/open-vm-tools status

As we can see from the screenshot the service is up an running.

Linux Ubuntu open-vm-tools status

If we now move to the vCenter and check the properties in the Summary for this VM we can see the VMware Tools is Guest Managed.

Linux Ubuntu VMware tools guest managed

We now have Linux Ubuntu 16.04 LTS installed in VMware vSphere with Open-VM-Tools. Very easy installation that we’ll use for other purposes. In the next article we’ll cover how to create a Veeam Linux Repository and how to install the Veeam Agent to run Backup and Restore jobs.

Comments and feedback are welcome!

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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