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[STICKY] Zorin-OS as VMware Guest Virtual Machine


Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:00:34 pm

I wanted to install Zorin-OS as a VMware virtual machine (VM) under a Windows 7 host. VMware Player is a free virtualization software that can be downloaded from It lets you run 'virtual computers' with different operating systems on one computer. I had installed VMware Player on my Windows 7 computer, and set up two VMs: Zorin-OS 6 Lite and Zorin-OS 5.1 Core.

The basic procedure for creating VMs is to open VMware Player and click the link to "Create a new virtual machine". The software walks you through the process. I assigned the Zorin-OS machines 512 MB of RAM, and let VMware Player create 20 GB virtual hard drive images for each.

I had already downloaded the .iso images for installing Zorin-OS, and so told VMware Player to use the image file for installing the OS to the VM.

Everything else pretty much worked as though it was installing Zorin-OS to a regular computer. I chose the boot option (from the LiveCD image) to install directly, and went through the install procedure. Zorin-OS works very smoothly as a VM, and even lets my mouse pointer enter and exit the VMware window without need for an escape key (Usually, a VMware machine will 'capture' the mouse pointer when it is being used inside the VMware window, and you need to press CTRL-ALT to release the mouse to your computer's main desktop).

Still, I wanted to have access to a VMware shared folder, to more easily transfer files between the host and guest machines. This requires the installation of "VMware Tools". VMware Tools are a set of utilities that let your VM share a folder with your host computer, and run in full-screen mode, or even stretch its 'monitor' to any window size. It's nice to have. Often, VMware Player will ask if you want to download and install it. I generally say 'yes' to this, and then Player will download a CD image file containing the VMware Tools installer. This image, called "linux.iso" is located on your PC in

C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Player\linux.iso

You will also need some files and programs related to compiling the VMware Tools source files for your VM. These are:
GCC (Gnu C Compiler, I think)
make (some program that runs the installation scripts and "makes" the program that's being installed, or something like that)
kernel headers (some kind of data files that are needed for compiling program modules specific to this version of Linux)
As you can see, I am pretty ignorant

NOTE in EDIT: GCC and Make appear to exist already in the Core version. The "sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade" command mentioned further down appears to get kernel headers, I think. In any case, a Zorin 5.1 Core VMware machine did not require GCC or Make to be installed.

To get these things, you need to run a Terminal. Click the Start menu in Zorin, go to Accessories, and run Terminal. A command terminal should come up. Your command prompt, telling you that you can type in commands looks kind of like [img]blahblahblahsomething~$[/img]

Because you are installing stuff, you'll need to make use of the "sudo" command phrase/secret word. This word basically tells the Linux system that you really have authority to do these risky terrible things to it, and you have a password. I hope you remember your user password!

__ Install GCC (note: not needed for Zorin-OS Core)
In the Terminal, type:
sudo apt-get install gcc

Your Zorin VM will go out into the network and find the installer for GCC, and then install it. When it's done, it should end with your 'blahblahblahsomething~$' prompt.

__ Install Make (note: not needed for Zorin-OS Core)
It's just like installing GCC, really. In the Terminal, type:
sudo apt-get install make

Again, Zorin will find Make and install it for you, then bring you to the $ prompt.

__Get Kernel Headers (Needed for both Core and Lite, I think)
The Kernel Headers may already be present, but I can't tell, so I think this command will get them for you. In Terminal, type:
sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

__Load the 'linux.iso' image as a CD-ROM on your VM, and extract the installation files

The VM can be told that the .iso image is a real CD. In the VMware toolbar of your VM, click Virtual Machine, then Removable Devices, then CD/DVD (IDE), then Settings.

In the dialog, click the checkbox for Device status: Connected. Click the radio button Use ISO image file:, and browse to the location of the linux.iso file in the VMware Player program files. Click OK, and your Zorin-OS VM will think it has a CD inserted into a drive. The .iso file is located at:
C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Player\linux.iso

Zorin will ask what to do, and you can tell it to "Open in File Manager".

OK, now the image file is mounted.

__Extract the installation files
The installation files are in a compressed archive on the CD image. You'll need to uncompress these to a location on the VM's drive before you can run them. Fortunately, someone wrote some very useful instructions on how to do this. I am in their debt. The following is a quote of their instructions (You're doing this inside the Terminal):

First attach the ISO image containing VMware Tools to the virtual machine. Then open a terminal window and execute the following commands:
sudo mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom

cp /media/cdrom/VMware*.tar.gz /tmp

sudo umount /media/cdrom

cd /tmp

tar xzvf VMware*.gz

cd vmware-tools-distrib/

sudo ./

When the installation scripts prompts for answers, just hit Enter since defaults are OK.

The "apt-get update" line does something, but I don't know what. It looked important, though.
The "mount" command may not be needed, but it didn't hurt.
The "cp" command copies the compressed archive file to your /tmp directory
The "tar xzvf" command uncompresses the archive
The "cd" command changes your directory into the vmware-tools-distrib directory
Using "sudo", you run the .pl script file (a Perl script?) to begin the installation. You may be asked for your password.

At some point, you may be asked to provide a path to GCC or kernel headers. These are what I used:

Path to GCC: /usr/bin/gcc
Path to kernel headers: /usr/src/linux-headers-3.0.0-17-generic/include/

Just continue accepting the default settings until the installation is done.
After installation, the terminal had the following information:
/usr/bin/vmware-toolbox-cmd or /usr/bin/vmware-toolbox to start VMware Tools

To enable advanced X features, do:
1. Manually start /usr/bin/vmware-user
2. Log out and back into desktop session
3. Restart your X session

Tried to do the 'vmware-user' command, but it is not found. This didn't seem to matter, though.
Did the 'vmware-toolbox' command and got the toolbox for configuring VMware Tools. That's good.
After this, can run the VM full-screen.

I re-booted the VM at this point, and then maximized the VMware Player window. It goes to full-screen, and stretches the Zorin-OS desktop to match. The toolbar at the bottom of the screen takes a minute to finally move and resize itself, but it does this without trouble.

Under the VMware Virtual Machine Settings menu, you can assign a folder on your host machine to be a shared folder. This feature seems to work with the Zorin-OS Core VM, but not with Lite. Dunno why. In any case, the Shared folder is mounted as /mnt/hgfs.
(Note added: For some reason, shared folders no longer work even in Core. Don't know why)

In both cases, the VM can be run in "Unity" mode. In this mode, applications in the Zorin-OS VM appear to be working within your host (Windows7) desktop.