Using VMware guest drivers with kvm

Experimenting with some Windows guests on KVM today, I discovered that the available Fedora (Red Hat) video drivers for Windows guests wouldn’t install. So I fell back to using those from VMware.

As it turns out there are a lot of other people who have doing this for a long time, and in fact it appears to be highly recommended by those in the know. The VMware SVGA II drivers actually work very nicely in a KVM guest, and I’m glad I tried them.

Using VMware VGA with KVM Windows Guests is an old (2010) article that describes the nuts and bolts. It contains links to two .iso files, one for 32-bit and the other 64-bit Windows. The driver version will be 11.2.0.0. Note that for Windows XP you do not want to use the drivers that come with the latest VMware Workstation version, as they are incompatible. Use the older version driver on the .iso supplied by linux-kvm.com instead.

Before installing the new drivers change the video card to VMVGA and then map your virtual CD-ROM to the appropriate .iso file. Then you can start up the guest, which should automatically load the new driver. If it doesn’t you can go into Device Manager and manually update the VGA device driver by right-clicking, etc.

Hope they get this fixed before RHEL 7 ships, otherwise there are going to be a lot of server admins switching to xfce or maybe even stripping out the desktop environment altogether (something I’ve been advocating for a long time — they just need to remember to install at least twm and xterm to allow multiple xterms in a session). That’ll do a lot for Gnome 3 adoption!

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).