VMware Tools pvscsi and vmxnet3 drivers delivered by Windows Update

Today I was updating a Windows Server 2016 template VM with Windows Updates. During the update, I notice that the pvscsi and vmxnet3 drivers are updated by the Windows Updates process.

In 10.3.10 of VMware Tools, the pvscsi and vmxnet3 drivers available through Windows Update for Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019 Operating Systems. This means that the pvscsi and vmxnet3 drivers are updated as part of the Windows Updating process. This reduces the number of reboots needed.

So make sure that all the Windows Server 2016 and 2019 VMs have at least version 10.3.10 (or higher) of the VMware Tools installed to reduce the number of reboots.

VMware Tools installation and upgrade tips and tricks

The VMware Tools package provides drivers (such as VMXNET3, PVSCSI, SVGA etc.) and services that enhance the performance of virtual machines and make several vSphere features easy to use. Here are some tips and tricks when working with VMware Tools:

  • An overview of the VMware Tools versions mapping can be found here, link
  • The latest VMware Tools versions can be downloaded from the following links: link and link
  • Within VMware ESXi, the VMware Tools are located under: /vmimages/tools-isoimages
  • The latest VMware Tools version 10.3.10 is compatible with ESXi 6.0.0 to 6.7 U3
  • To view what VMware Tools components are installed on a Windows operating system: open Regedit and browse to the following location.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\Installer\Features\10176710886A59A4C938D6DEE96B37D5

Names with a squire or minus are not installed. Another method in Windows 10 for example is going to the Apps & Features and select: modify VMware Tools

  • A silent or unattended default installation can be done using the following command. This command does not installed the NSX components:
 Setup64.exe /s /v "/qb REBOOT=R" /l c:\windows\temp\vmware_tools_install.log

  • Use the ADDLOCAL and REMOVE option to define what components to install. The following command installs all the components expect the Hgfs, SVGA,VSS, AppDefense and the NetworkIntrospection component. This VMware Tools configuration can be used for example for a Horizon View Golden image.
setup64.exe /s /v" /qb REBOOT=R ADDLOCAL=All REMOVE=Hgfs,SVGA,VSS,AppDefense,NetworkIntrospection"" /l c:\windows\temp\vmware_tools_install.log

The following VMware Tools component values can be used:

Component Values Component Description
Drivers Audio Audio driver for 64-bit Operating Systems
BootCamp Driver for Mac BootCamp Support
MemCtl VMware Memory control driver for memory management
Mouse VMware mouse driver
PVSCSI VMware Paravirtual SCSI adapter
SVGA VMware SVGA driver
Sync Filesystem Sync driver, which enables backup applications to create application-consistent snapshots. This driver is used if the guest operating system is earlier than Windows Server 2003. Newer operating systems use the VSS driver.
ThinPrint Driver that enables printers added to the host operating system to appear in the list of available printers in the virtual machine. VMware Tools does not support ThinPrint features for vSphere 5.5 and later.
VMCI Virtual Machine Communication Interface driver. This driver allows virtual machines to communicate with the hosts on which they run without using the network
Hgfs VMware shared folders driver. Use this driver if you plan to use this virtual machine with VMware Workstation, Player, or Fusion. Excluding this feature prevents you from sharing a folder between your virtual machine and the host system.
VMXNet VMware VMXnet networking driver.
VMXNet3 Next-generation VMware VMXnet networking driver for virtual machines that use virtual hardware version 7 and higher (ESX(i) 4.x and higher)
FileIntrospection NSX File Introspection driver, vsepflt.sys.
NetworkIntrospection NSX Network Introspection driver, vnetflt.sys.
VSS Driver for creating automatic backups. This driver is used if the guest operating system is Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or other newer operating system. Linux and older Windows operating systems use the Filesystem Sync driver.
AppDefense VMware AppDefense component. The AppDefense components consists of glxgi.sys kernel mode driver and gisvc.exe user mode service.
Toolbox Perfmon Driver for WMI performance logging.

The latest version of the VMware Tools component values can be found here, link

Extract the VMware ISO for drivers

Sometimes is handy to extract the VMware ISO to get the VMXnet3 and PVSCSI drivers.

  • Mount the ISO
  • setup64.exe /A /P C:\Folder to extract

PowerCLI

To identify and upgrade the VMware Tools versions PowerCLI is your friend. First install the PowerCLI module, link. After the module is installed, connect to the vCenter Server.


$vcsa = "vcsa03.lab.local"

Import-Module VMware.PowerCLI
Connect-VIServer -Server $vcsa

Identify VMware Tools versions

To get the VMware Tools versions of the running VMs use the following PowerCLI command:

Get-VM | Get-VMguest | Where {$_.State -eq 'Running'} | Select VmName, ToolsVersion
  • Get all the running VMs that don’t have VMware Tools version 10.3.10 installed:
Get-VM | Get-VMguest | Where-Object {$_.State -eq 'Running' -and $_.ToolsVersion -notlike '10.3.10'} | Select VmName, ToolsVersion
  • Get all the running VMs that have an outdated version of VMware Tools:
Get-VM | Get-VMguest | where-object {$_.State -eq 'Running' -and $_.ExtensionData.ToolsversionStatus -eq 'GuestToolsNeedUpgrade'} | Select VmName

Update VMware Tools

Once you have an overview of all the VMware Tools versions that are outdated is easy to upgrade them to the latest version. In this example, the -NoReboot option is used so the OS will not be rebooted. Make sure when using -NoReboot option that the reboot will be planned in a maintenance window. This stops for example installing Windows Updates because there is a pending reboot action that needs to be performed first.

First export all the VMs to a CSV file that will be saved under c:\temp\vms.csv

 
Get-VM | Get-VMguest | where-object {$_.State -eq 'Running' -and $_.ExtensionData.ToolsversionStatus -eq 'GuestToolsNeedUpgrade'} | Select VmName | export-csv c:\temp\vms.csv -NoTypeInformation

Verify the CSV file and make sure only the VMs are listed that need to be upgraded. After that import the CSV and update the VMware Tools using the following commands:

$vms = Import-Csv c:\temp\vms.csv
$vms | % { get-vm -name $_.VmName | Update-Tools -NoReboot}

 

Blue circle in the vSphere client after upgrading to vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2

After upgrading the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) to version 6.7 Update 2, I tried to log in using the vSphere Client. After entering the credentials an endless blue running circle appears.

In the VAMI interface (https://vcsa-fqdn:5480) of the VCSA, the health statistics of all the components are green (okay) so I decided to reboot the VCSA.

After the VCSA reboot I encountered the same blue running circle when trying to log in using the vSphere Client. I tried Firefox and Google and the Internet Explorer browser. The only browser that worked was Internet Explorer. I never used  Internet Explorer before so I tried to clear the cache of Google Chrome and Firefox using the following methods:

Clear cache, cookies and history of Google Chrome:

  • Open Chrome.
  • At the top right, click More More
  • Click More tools and then Clear browsing data
  • Time range: All time
  • Select Browser history, cookies and cache images and files
  • Click Clear data

Clear cache and cookies of Firefox browser:

  • Open firefox
  • In the address bar enter: about:preferences
  • Click Privacy & Security
  • Under Cookies and Site Data select Clear Data
  • Check Cookies and Site Data and Cached Web Content
  • Click Clear and select Clear Now

After clearing the cache I was able to log in using the vSphere Client without the endless blue circle. So make sure to clear the cache of the browser(s) when experiencing the circle problem.