major.io words of wisdom from a systems engineer

Enabling VNC as a pseudo-KVM with VMWare Server

Mac users feel a little left out when it comes to VMWare Server clients. There’s one for Windows and Linux, but Mac users are out of luck. Sure, you can VNC into a Linux box, use X forwarding, or use RDC to access a Windows box, but a real Mac client would really be helpful.

However, I stumbled upon some documentation that will allow you to VNC to a VMWare Server VM’s main screen. It’s equivalent to having a network KVM connected to the VM so you can have out-of-band management. With VMWare server 2.x, you can enable it by following these steps:

Step 1. Create a new VM in VMWare Server, but don’t start the VM.

Step 2. SSH to the server and find your VM’s .vmx file. Normally, you can find the file in a location like /var/lib/vmware/[vmname]/[vmname].vmx.

Step 3. Add the following lines to the end of the .vmx file:

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = "TRUE"
RemoteDisplay.vnc.password = "vncpassword"
RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = "5900"

Step 4. Change the VNC port and password to values that suit your environment and then start the VM.

DUH! Don’t set two VM’s to use the same vnc port, but that should go without saying.