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VMware support for Linux inbox VMware drivers (2073804)

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Purpose

This article provides information about the benefits, availability, and VMware support for inbox VMware drivers within Linux operating systems.

Resolution

Benefits

The benefits of using inbox VMware drivers for Linux include:
  • VMware drivers are available pre-installed in the OS, eliminating the need to separately install drivers after OS installation.
  • No delay in the availability of compatible drivers for new OS releases.
  • No need to build and debug driver source code for new OS releases.
  • Eliminates the need to include a compiler tool chain to build drivers from source.
  • Reduced maintenance effort and downtime because important updates of VMware drivers are distributed through OS update releases and patches.

Availability

VMware has contributed and actively maintains the source code for VMware paravirtual drivers and kernel modules upstream to the mainline kernel.org tree for Linux.

Details on the initial introduction of specific drivers in various upstream kernels and popular OS releases:

  • The vmxnet3 driver with version 1.0.5.0-k was accepted upstream in the 2.6.32 kernel on October 2009.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux introduced distribution of the 1.0.14.0-k version of this driver in the RHEL 6.0 release.
    • SuSE Linux Enterprise introduced distribution of the 1.0.14.0-k version of this driver in SLE 11 SP1 release.
    • Ubuntu introduced distribution of the 1.0.5.0-k version of this driver in the 10.04 release.

  • The vmw_pvscsi driver with version 1.0.1.0-k was accepted upstream in the 2.6.33 kernel on December 2009.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux introduced distribution of the 1.0.1.0-k version of this driver in the RHEL 6.0 release.
    • SuSE Linux Enterprise introduced distribution of the 1.0.1.0-k version of this driver in SLE 11 SP1 release.
    • Ubuntu introduced distribution of the 1.0.1.0-k version of this driver in the 10.04 release.

  • The vmw_balloon driver with version 1.2.1.0-K was accepted upstream in the 2.6.34 kernel on April 2010.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux introduced distribution of the 1.2.1.1-k version of this driver in the RHEL 6.0 release.
    • SuSE Linux Enterprise introduced distribution of the 1.2.1.2-k version of this driver in SLE 11 SP2 release.
    • Ubuntu introduced distribution of the 1.2.1.1-k version of this driver in the 10.10 release.

  • The vmwgfx driver with version 2.0.0.0 was accepted upstream in the 3.2 kernel on September 2011.

    • Ubuntu introduced distribution of the 2.3.0.0 version of this driver in the 12.04 release.
    • Fedora introduced distribution of the 2.3.0.0 version of this driver in the 17 release.

  • The vmw_vmci driver with version 1.0.0.0-k was accepted upstream in 3.9 kernel on March 2013.

    • Ubuntu introduced distribution of the 1.0.0.0-k version of this driver in the 13.10 release.
    • Fedora introduced distribution of the 1.0.0.0-k version of this driver in the 19 release.

  • The vmw_vsock kernel modules with version 1.0.0.0-k was accepted upstream in 3.9 kernel on March 2013.

    • Ubuntu introduced distribution of the 1.0.0.0-k version of this driver in the 13.10 release.
    • Fedora introduced distribution of the 1.0.0.0-k version of this driver in the 19 release.

Maintenance

VMware actively maintains the source code for VMware paravirtual drivers and kernel modules upstream in the mainline kernel.org tree for Linux. The upstream source code tree is the leading edge of development and maintenance. As Linux distributions create new OS releases that branch from the upstream kernel.org source tree, they will automatically include the latest VMware drivers. Additionally, VMware collaborates with leading OS vendors to back-port important changes that occur upstream to their sustaining releases.

For example, these vmxnet3 driver updates were distributed in these OS update releases:
  • Version 1.0.25.0-k was included in Ubuntu 11.04
  • Version 1.1.18.0-k was included in Ubuntu 11.10, RHEL 6.2 and SLE 11 SP2
  • Version 1.1.29.0-k was included in Ubuntu 12.04 and RHEL 6.4
  • Version 1.1.30.0-k was included in Ubuntu 13.10, RHEL 6.5 and SLE 11 SP3
Note: Drivers and kernel modules are distributed by operating system vendors and communities at their discretion. Contact the operating system vendor regarding distribution of VMware drivers in their operating system releases and to request a back-port of specific driver versions to their sustaining releases.

Support policy

  • VMware supports inbox VMware drivers for Linux, which is done in collaboration with the OS vendor and OS communities.
  • VMware recommends using the inbox driver distributed by the OS vendor and recommends obtaining driver updates through the OS vendor's regularly scheduled update and patch releases. Contact the OS vendor or OS community for availability of specific driver updates.
  • VMware does not recommend removing and replacing inbox VMware drivers from the operating system, which might conflict with updates to the same driver distributed by the OS vendor in the future.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why does my operating system not include any VMware drivers?

    Contact your OS vendor for information on why the operating system does not include VMware drivers. If they are unavailable for your operating system, install VMware Tools bundled with your VMware product, which will attempt to install VMware drivers.

  • Why does an operating system release not include a specific VMware driver?

    It is likely the VMware driver was not available upstream prior to deadline to include in that operating system release or that device is considered obsolete, such as with an older vmxnet device. Contact your OS vendor regarding their plans to distribute a specific VMware driver. To work around this situation, install VMware Tools bundled with your VMware product, which will install any missing supported drivers. The VMware Tools installer will not disturb inbox VMware drivers included in the OS.

  • Why does an operating system release not include the vmhgfs driver?

    The vmhgfs driver has not been contributed upstream. To work around this situation, install VMware Tools bundled with the Workstation or Fusion products, which will install the missing vmhgfs drivers. The VMware Tools installer will not disturb inbox VMware drivers included in the OS.

  • Why does VMware Tools not update the inbox VMware drivers?

    The VMware Tools installer will not remove/replace inbox VMware drivers from the OS because VMware recommends obtaining driver updates through the OS vendor's regularly scheduled update and patch releases.

  • How do I determine if a driver originates from the OS or was installed by VMware Tools?

    The vmwgfx driver is only available through OS releases and is not included in VMware Tools. For all other drivers, versions with "-k" originate from the upstream kernel and versions without "-k" originate from VMware Tools.

  • Why does an operating system release not include latest version of a specific VMware driver?

    It is likely the newer driver update was not available upstream prior to deadline to include in that operating system release, or changes in later driver updates were not considered relevant or important enough to back-port to that OS release. Check for availability of newer drivers in later OS updates or patches. Also contact your OS vendor regarding their plans to distribute specific VMware driver version.

See Also

Request a Product Feature

To request a new product feature or to provide feedback on a VMware product, please visit the Request a Product Feature page.

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