Create a central VMware Tools repository

VMware Tools releases have been decoupled from VMware vSphere release since version 10.0. You can now standardize to the latest VMware Tools by configuring a centralized repository. This can be useful when you want to point to a new VMware Tools version when for example a security vulnerability in identified VMware Tools. This is recently happened and described in the VMSA-2021-0013 security advisory. (link) for example.

Requirements:

  • VMware ESXi 6.7 Update 1 or later
  • PowerCLI installed

Here are the steps to create a central VMware Tools repository:

  • Create a folder structure on a central datastore (all VMware ESXi hosts have access to this datastore)  in the cluster. For example:
    • On the nfs01 datastore is created a folder called “vmwtools“, under that folder, I created another folder called “11.3.0-18090558
  • Download the latest VMware Tools version, link
  • Extract the VMware Tools ZIP file. Two folders are extracted:
    • floppies
    • vmtools
  • Upload the two folders to the folder structure created. In this example I used: /vmfs/volumes/vmwtools/11.3.0-18090558

  • Change the following variables so it matches the vSphere environment:
    • $cluster
    • $datastore
  • The PowerCLI script below will point all the VMware ESXi hosts in a cluster to the central VMware Tools repository location.
  • Execute this script
# Import PowerCLI module
Import-Module VMware.PowerCLI

# VMware VirtualCenter server name 
$VCserver = read-host "Enter the vCenter server name"

# Connect to the vCenter server 
Connect-VIServer -server $VCserver

$cluster = 'CL-MGNT'
$hosts = Get-Cluster -Name $cluster | Get-VMHost
$datastore = '/vmfs/volumes/nfs01/vmwtools/11.3.0-18090558/'

# Display current VMware Location
$hosts | Get-AdvancedSetting -Name "UserVars.ProductLockerLocation" | Select-Object Entity,Value

# Change VMware Tools location 
Get-cluster -name $cluster | Get-VMhost | %{$_.ExtensionData.UpdateProductLockerLocation($datastore)}  

# Display current VMware Location
$hosts | Get-AdvancedSetting -Name "UserVars.ProductLockerLocation" | Select-Object Entity,Value

# Disconnect vCenter 
Disconnect-VIserver -server * -Confirm:$false

The default location of the VMware Tools is: /locker/packages/vmtoolsRepo/

  • Select a Windows VM in the vSphere cluster. A message is displayed that there is a newer version of VMware Tools available.
  • Select Upgrade VMware Tools (It is possible that the VM is automatically rebooted when choosing for an Automatic Upgrade).

  • After the installation, check if VMTools is running and if the version is current.

Creating a central VMware Tools repository is an easy step that is very useful to stay up to date with the latest VMware Tools versions for the Virtual Machines.

The VMware PowerCLI script listed above can be found on my GitHub repository, link.

Quick Tip: Download the latest Windows 10 ISO file

Today on May 18, 2021, Windows 10 21H1 is released (May 2021 Update). This 21H1 version is a minor release version and the 21H2 version (later this year) will be a major release version. I use the latest Windows 10 versions in my lab environment for creating and testing golden images for VDI environments.

To download the latest Windows 10 ISO file I use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. This is a Windows-based tool. When starting the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool it opens a Graphical User Interface and you are able to download Windows 10 Home (N), Education (N) and the Pro (N) ISO. To download the Enterprise version you need to enter the command line. Here are the steps explained to download a Windows 10 Enterprise ISO:

  • Download the Media Creation Tool (MediaCreationTool21H1.exe), link
  • Select: “Download Tool now”
  • Open the command line
  • Use the following command to download the English 64-bits Windows 10 Enterprise ISO:
MediaCreationTool21H1.exe /Eula Accept /Retail /MediaArch x64 /MediaLangCode en-US /MediaEdition Enterprise
  • To download the Dutch 64-bits Windows 10 Enterprise ISO use the following command:
MediaCreationTool21H1.exe /Eula Accept /Retail /MediaArch x64 /MediaLangCode nl-NL /MediaEdition Enterprise
  • Enter the product key “NPPR9-FWDCX-D2C8J-H872K-2YT43”.  The KMS client keys can be found here: link

  • Select: Create installation media (USB flash drive, DVD, or ISO file) for another PC

  • Select “Iso file” and browse to a location to store the ISO. You need at least 8GB free on the C-drive and the ISO size is between 4 and 5 GB.

  • The download of the Windows 10 ISO starts.

Once the downloading of the ISO is completed it’s ready for use.

Enable Adobe Flash support for the VMware Horizon Administrator console

Adobe Flash is no longer supported after December 31, 2020, and currently disabled by default.

During my consulting work, I still see organizations that use Adobe Flash-based applications such as the VMware Horizon Administrator. VMware Horizon 7.10 has an HTML5 based Horizon Console that nearly feature-complete and replaces the Adobe Flash-based Horizon Console.

For organizations, it can difficult to manage there VMware Horizon environments below version 7.10 of VMware Horizon. This can be done by enabling Adobe Flash temporarily. Caution: Enabling Adobe Flash is a security breach for your environment. So use with caution!!!

With the following steps you can enable Adobe Flash support on a Windows:

  • Download Firefox 78.6.1 ESR, link
  • Create or edit the following file: ‘C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\mms.cfg’ with the following settings:
EOLUninstallDisable=1
SilentAutoUpdateEnable=0
EnableAllowList=1
AutoUpdateDisable=1
ErrorReportingEnable=1
AllowListUrlPattern=https://fqdn-of-the-horizon-connection-server:443
  • Replace the ‘AllowListURLPattern’ with the FQDN of the VMware Horizon Connection server or load balancer URL
  • Open Firefox and enter the VMware Horizon Connection server or load balancing URL

When you are still using the VMware Horizon Administrator make sure to upgrade your VMware Horizon environment. The end of general support for Horizon 7 is March 2021. Upgrade to minimal VMware 7.13 (has general support till October of 2022) or VMware Horizon 8.x.