How To Install VMware Server 2 On Debian Lenny

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This tutorial provides step-by-step instructions on how to install VMware Server 2 on a Debian Lenny desktop system. With VMware Server you can create and run guest operating systems ("virtual machines") such as Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, etc. under a host operating system. This has the benefit that you can run multiple operating systems on the same hardware which saves a lot of money, and you can move virtual machines from one VMware Server to the next one (or to a system that has the VMware Player which is also free).

Also, with VMware Server you can let your old Windows desktop (that you previously converted into a VMware virtual machine with VMware Converter, as described in this tutorial: run under your Debian Lenny desktop. This can be useful if you depend on some applications that exist for Windows only, or if you want to switch to Linux slowly.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

I'm using the user name falko with the home directory /home/falko here - please adjust this appropriately.


2 VMware Server

To download VMware Server, go to and click on Download:

On the next page, log in with your existing VMware account or create a new one:

Follow the on-screen instructions. At the end, you should receive an email with a link to your download page. On the download page, you should see two license numbers, one for Windows and one for Linux. Write down or save the one for Linux and scroll down.

Then download the VMware Server for Linux TAR image (not the RPM image!) to your desktop (e.g. to /home/falko/Desktop):

Then open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal), become root...


... and run the following command to install some necessary packages:

apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential xinetd gcc-4.1

The Debian Lenny kernel was built using gcc 4.1, however we now have gcc 4.3 installed. The VMware installer will complain about this and fail, unless we make /usr/bin/gcc a symlink to /usr/bin/gcc-4.1:

ln -sf /usr/bin/gcc-4.1 /usr/bin/gcc 

Then go to the location where you saved the VMware Server .tar.gz file, e.g. /home/falko/Desktop (replace falko with your own username!):

cd /home/falko/Desktop

Unpack the VMware Server .tar.gz file and run the installer:

tar xvfz VMware-server-*.tar.gz
cd vmware-server-distrib

The installer will ask you a lot of questions. You can always accept the default values simply by hitting <ENTER>.

When the installer asks you

In which directory do you want to keep your virtual machine files?
[/var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machines]

you can either accept the default value or specify a location that has enough free space to store your virtual machines.

At the end of the installation, you will be asked to enter a serial number:

Please enter your 20-character serial number.
Type XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX or 'Enter' to cancel:

Fill in your serial number for VMware Server.

After the successful installation, you can delete the VMware Server download file and the installation directory:

cd /home/falko/Desktop
rm -f VMware-server*
rm -fr vmware-server-distrib/

If you have accepted all default values during the installation, root is now the VMware Server login name.

VMware Server 2 does not have a desktop application for managing virtual machines - this is now done through a browser (e.g. Firefox/Iceweasel). You can access the management interface over HTTPS (https://<IP ADDRESS>:8333) or HTTP (http://<IP ADDRESS>:8222); the management interface can be accessed locally and also remotely. If you want to access it from the same machine, type or into the browser's address bar.

If you're using Firefox/Iceweasel 3 and use HTTPS, Firefox/Iceweasel will complain about the self-signed certificate, therefore you must tell Firefox/Iceweasel to accept the certificate - to do this, click on the Or you can add an exception... link:

Click on Add Exception...:

The Add Security Exception window opens. In that window, click on the Get Certificate button first and then on the Confirm Security Exception button:

Afterwards, you will see the VMware Server login form. Type in root and the root password:

This is how the VMware Server web interface looks. The structure is similar to the old VMware Server 1 desktop application, so the usage of the web interface is pretty straightforward.


Share this page:

Suggested articles

16 Comment(s)

Add comment



Wouldn't it be more secure to install and run the vmware server as a dedicated user for this?


By: Anonymous
By: Anonymous

 The Debian Lenny kernel was built using gcc 4.1, however we now have gcc 4.3 installed. The VMware installer will complain about this and fail, unless we make /usr/bin/gcc a symlink to /usr/bin/gcc-4.1:

ln -sf /usr/bin/gcc-4.1 /usr/bin/gcc

This can also be done by using this to start the installer:

CC=/usr/bin/gcc-4.1 ./

By: ElMuchacho

no way to install vmware server 2.x on my lenny system ...

hangs at compiling vmmon ...

 btw: it's x64 system and by using the tipps (symlink etc.) there's only the error-message, that my kernel is compiled with gcc 4.3.4 and now 4.1.3 will be used ...

this causes in install-error ...

By: put0pdr0

u need install gcc-4.3 first and them do this:

ln -sf /usr/bin/gcc-4.3 /usr/bin/gcc 




I've made a clean install this morning, and received this

 Setup is unable to find the "killall" program on your machine.

after running the ./


aptitude install psmisc

fix this issue.


Excellent tutorial that got me using Vmware Server 2 when I hadn't even thought of it in the past. Thanks !

By: Benjamin

Great !! It works great !

Thanks a lot !

By: Paride

When i restart the server, and try to access to it fron another machine, vmware report:

503 Service Unavailable

By: tebolandia

how you fix that ?

error 503

 in debian lenny and vmware 2.0

By: lowman

sudo service vmware-mgmt restart

By: Brad Robertson

Debian Lenny with VMWare 2.0.2 installation seems to have a problem installing the vsock module.  You didn't mention that anywhere but I was wondering if you had the same experience?  It does however install fine and work.  Not sure what vsock is really for.

I get the following:

 Using 2.6.x kernel build system.

make: Entering directory `/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only'

make -C /lib/modules/2.6.26-2-amd64/build/include/.. SUBDIRS=$PWD SRCROOT=$PWD/. modules

make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.26-2-amd64'

  CC [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/linux/af_vsock.o

  CC [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/linux/driverLog.o

  CC [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/linux/util.o

  CC [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/linux/vsockAddr.o

  LD [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.o

  Building modules, stage 2.

  MODPOST 1 modules

WARNING: "VMCIDatagram_CreateHnd" [/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.ko] undefined!

WARNING: "VMCIDatagram_DestroyHnd" [/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.ko] undefined!

WARNING: "VMCI_GetContextID" [/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.ko] undefined!

WARNING: "VMCIDatagram_Send" [/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.ko] undefined!

  CC      /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.mod.o

  LD [M]  /tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only/vsock.ko

make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.26-2-amd64'

cp -f vsock.ko ./../vsock.o

make: Leaving directory `/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock-only'

Unable to make a vsock module that can be loaded in the running kernel:

insmod: error inserting '/tmp/vmware-config0/vsock.o': -1 Unknown symbol in module

There is probably a slight difference in the kernel configuration between the 

set of C header files you specified and your running kernel.  You may want to 

rebuild a kernel based on that directory, or specify another directory.

The VM communication interface socket family is used in conjunction with the VM

communication interface to provide a new communication path among guests and 

host.  The rest of this software provided by VMware Server is designed to work 

independently of this feature.  If you wish to have the VSOCK feature  you can 

install the driver by running again after making sure that 

gcc, binutils, make and the kernel sources for your running kernel are 

installed on your machine. These packages are available on your distribution's 

installation CD.

By: Pajarofeo

Hi ,

 I use Debian GNU/Linux 5.0.4

 When I try to install the packages "linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential xinetd gcc-4.1" the system said me :

 - The build-essential package is not available.


 Thanks in advanced...

By: Anonymous


sudo apt-get install linux-headers-2.6-686/or find yours by 'uname -a


It's Amazing your Article!!

Thanks a lot



Can you mod the tut for 6.0 Squeeze? There are a few things that are different. IPv6 gets in the way of this method. Excellent work as usual! =)