In this post, I will show you how to install VMware tools on Windows Server Core. You can install the VMware tools on a VM running Server Core on ESXI or VMware Workstation.
The Server Core option is a minimal installation option that is available when you are deploying the Standard or Datacenter edition of Windows Server. Server Core includes most but not all server roles. Server Core has a smaller disk footprint, and therefore a smaller attack surface due to a smaller code base.
The Server Core doesn’t have the GUI features installed. Hence, you’ll require to mount the VMware tools on the Server Core VM or you need to manually copy the tools and run the installation.
After you create a Windows Server core VM, if the VMware tools aren’t installed automatically, there are 2 manual ways to install VMware tools.
- Download and Install VMware Tools from VMware Customer Connect site.
- Use the VMware Tools installer embedded in the VMware Workstation or ESXI.
Use the following guides to install VMware tools on other operating systems:
- Deploy VMware Tools using SCCM | ConfigMgr
- Install VMware Tools on macOS Big Sur
- Easy Steps to Install VMware Tools on Windows 11 VM
- How to Update VMware Tools to Latest Version
Install VMware Tools on Windows Server Core VM
Let’s look at the steps to install VMware tools on Windows Server Core virtual machine. Power on the Server Core VM. Right-click on the Sever Core VM title and select “Install VMware Tools“.
The VMware tools are now mounted on a separate drive on the Server core VM. Use the CD drive: command to change the directory to the one that’s mounted with VMware tools. Run the Dir command to list all the components of VMware Tools.
To install the VMware tools, run the command .\setup64.exe.
After you run setup.exe, the VMware Tools Setup window appears on the screen. In some cases, you may not see the setup window because it is hidden behind the SConfig screen or command prompt. On the VMware Tools Setup window, click Next.
On the Choose setup type windows, you must select a setup type.
To be completely honest, I never gave these options much thought and always went with Typical. However, let me describe what each option does so that it will help in choosing it.
- Typical: Installs only program features used by VMWare product. This is the default option for all VMware tools installations.
- Complete: Select the option to install all the mandatory, recommended and optional components.
- Custom: Use this option to select which program features you want to install and the location to install.
For now, I am going to select the setup type as Typical. Click Next.
To begin the VMware tools installation of Windows Server Core, click Install.
The VMware tools installation is now complete on Server Core. Click Finish.
To complete the VMware tools installation, you must restart your system. Click Yes to restart the virtual machine.
Verify VMware Tools Installation of Server Core
After you have installed the VMware tools on Server Core, you can verify the installation by running a simple PowerShell command
Get-Service -Name VMTools
The above command checks if the VMware Tools service is installed and running on the Server Core. In the output, if you see the Status of VMTools service as “Running“, it means the VMware Tools have been installed successfully on Server Core.