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Using VMware KVM Mode with VMware Workstation 10 (2057914)

Purpose

VMware Workstation 10.x allows users to run Workstation in VMware KVM mode. This mode allows you to switch between active virtual machines using hotkeys.

Resolution



Virtual machines can be run in full-screen without launching the Workstation UI and manage their power state via CLI (command line interface). VMware KVM mode can be used as an alternative to run virtual machines only in full screen, allowing switching between them using a configurable hot key.

Note: VMware KVM mode is only available for Windows version of Workstation 10.x. VMware Tools must be installed on the guest operating system.

Setting Hot Keys for VMware KVM mode

To specify a hot key or hot key combination for cycling through the available virtual machines on a host computer.

Note: Review the Default Hot-Key Combinations in the Additional Information section of this article to avoid selecting hot-key combinations that are already used by Workstation.

  1. Open a command prompt. For more information, see Opening a command or shell prompt (1003892).
  2. Change to the directory where Workstation is installed:

    cd <workstation installation directory>

    By default, this directory is located at:
    • Windows XP – C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 (32bit) – C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 (64bit) – C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 – C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation

  3. Launch the VMware KVM preferences dialog box with the command:

    vmware-kvm.exe --preferences

  4. Click Modify, then press the combination of keys to want to use as hot-keys.
  5. Select the other features you want to enable:

    • Allow ungrabbing from virtual machines allows the mouse cursor to be released using Ctrl+Alt.
    • Stretch guest allows the virtual machine to change the guest display to fit the full screen. The guest display resolution is not changed.

  6. If appropriate, select Run on monitor. This option changes the physical monitor on which the virtual machine runs in full screen mode.
  7. Select an option to specify a power state behavior for the virtual machine when exiting KVM mode.
  8. Click OK.
Using VMware KVM mode

Use the vmware-kvm.exe command to run Workstation in KVM mode and to start and stop virtual machines. You can include the command to start a virtual machine in a shortcut in the host operating system's startup group, so the virtual machine starts automatically when a user logs on to the host computer.

Note: The vmware-kvm.exe command must be issued once for each virtual machine you want to start or stop in KVM mode.

  1. Open a command prompt. For more information, see Opening a command or shell prompt (1003892).
  2. Change to the directory where Workstation is installed:

    cd <workstation installation directory>

    By default, this directory is located at:
    • Windows XP – C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 (32bit) – C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 (64bit) – C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 – C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation

  3. Run the command:

    vmware-kvm.exe [OPTIONS] virtual-machine-vmx-file.vmx

    Where:
    • virtual-machine-vmx-file.vmx is the path to the .vmx file of the virtual machine. For more information, see  Locating a hosted virtual machine's files (1003880)
    • [OPTIONS] is option for the vmware-kvm.exe:

      • No option provided
        Enters KVM mode for the specified virtual machine. For example:

        vmware-kvm.exe "C:\DirectoryPath\Windows 8 x64\Windows 8 x64.vmx"

      • --power-off
        Powers off the specified virtual machine. Add =hard to perform a hard power off to the virtual machine. When you power off a virtual machine, vmware-kvm.exe closes the virtual machine and switches to the next active virtual machine. For example:

        vmware-kvm.exe --power-off "C:\DirectoryPath\Windows 8 x64\Windows 8 x64.vmx"

      • --suspend
        Suspends the specified virtual machine. Add =hard to perform a hard suspend to the virtual machine. For example: 

        vmware-kvm.exe --suspend "C:\DirectoryPath\Windows 8 x64\Windows 8 x64.vmx"

      • --reset
        Resets the specified virtual machine. Add =hard to perform a hard reset to the virtual machine. For example: 

        vmware-kvm.exe --reset "C:\DirectoryPath\Windows 8 x64\Windows 8 x64.vmx"

      • --detach
        Detaches the specified virtual machine. The virtual machine then runs in the background. For example:

        vmware-kvm.exe --detach "C:\DirectoryPath\Windows 8 x64\Windows 8 x64.vmx"

      • --exit
        Exits vmware-kvm mode. For example:

        vmware-kvm.exe --exit "C:\DirectoryPath\Windows 8 x64\Windows 8 x64.vmx"

      • --preferences
        Shows the vmware-kvm preferences dialog.

         
  4. Enter KVM mode for more than one virtual machine to use the configured hot key to cycle between them.

Additional Information

This table identifies the default hot key combinations used by Workstation. Do not use these as a KVM mode hot key.
 
Hot key combination Description
Ctrl+G  Grab input from the keyboard and mouse.
Ctrl+Alt Release the mouse cursor.
Ctrl+Alt+Insert Shut down or, depending on the guest operating system, log out of the guest operating system. This command is received solely by the virtual machine.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete
Shut down or, depending on the operating system, log out of the guest operating system.
 
On a Windows host, if you do not use the enhanced virtual keyboard feature, both the host operating system and the virtual machine receive this command, even when Workstation has control of input. Cancel the ending of the host operating system session and return to the virtual machine to log out or shut down or perform administrative tasks.
Ctrl+Alt+Enter Enter full screen mode.
Ctrl+Alt+spacebar Send any command to the virtual machine so that Workstation does not process it. Hold down Ctrl+Alt as you press and release the spacebar, and continue to hold the Ctrl+Alt keys down as you press the next key in the combination.
Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+Shift+Tab (Windows hosts only) Switch among tabs.
Ctrl+Alt+right arrow In full screen mode, switch to the next powered-on virtual machine.
Ctrl+Alt+left arrow In full screen mode, switch to the previous powered-on virtual machine.
Ctrl+Shift+U In Unity mode, give access to the virtual machine Start or Applications menu. You can change the Unity hot key combination by modifying Unity preference settings.

 

See Also

Request a Product Feature

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