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Using UltraVNC to remote-connect to VMware ESXi Guest OS

By robo_dev ·
You learn something new everyday.....

For my home network I run a Dell server running VMware ESXi (free Hypervisor). This allows me to run six or seven different servers all on one box, and greatly simplifies backup and recovery. If Windows system restore has ever failed you, rest assured that VMware snapshots simply work...every time.

On one of the XP guests I run the Adito SSL VPN (openVPN ALS).

The neat thing about this VPN application is that it needs no client..it uses the web browser.

The other neat thing is that it has plug-ins for UltraVNC, Windows remote desktop, SSH, and even WebDav, as well as the ability to do web-redirects. Thus I can remote control all the home real ( and virtual) machines via VNC, RDP, SSH, or HTTPS, all from a menu on the web page. For example I use the SSH plug-in (putty) to remote-connect to the VMware server via SSH, and can manage my home UPS, PDU, router, switches, and Wireless devices via their respective web pages

I run UltraVNC client and server on every workstation I have, and even have the MochaVNC client on my iPhone.

I was using the VNC server app on my VMware guests to remote control them until yesterday I had a face-palm moment when I learned that VMware supports VNC natively for console access to each guest OS.

In order to make this work, it's simply a matter of adding some lines to each VMs vmx file. Since I have SSH enabled to my VMware server, I simply SSH to the server, find the VMX file for each VM, and add some lines to it using the ever-faithful VI editor:

remotedisplay.vnc.port=5900
remotedisplay.vnc.enabled=true
remotedisplay.vnc.password = yourpassword

Now the only tricky part is that your VNC client has to point to the IP address of the VMware SERVER, Not the guest. Repeat, not the guest.

Thus any VNC client, including the VNC plug-ins in my Adito VPN, can connect to a VMware Guest OS. And even better, it's faster than a normal VNC connection, the screen resolution and mouse-control is better, and you can even control from the (virtual) BIOS of the guest OS. Seeing the Windows OS boot from the BIOS in a remote Window is a special thrill, I must admit.

Tip: You need to install the VMWare tools for the guest AND the VMware virtual mouse driver. (yes, there's a virtual mouse driver, but it does not always load automatically).

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