Debian Sarge and VMware 4 for Windows Gotcha's

I've been rocking with Debian Sarge on VMware 4 for a couple of months now. It's really a nice environment to play with and test new Linux software on. Plus, it's a fabulous GNUStep environment. You can get all the GNUStep stuff via apt so it makes setting up a GNUStep development environment a snap!

There are some gotcha's to getting Debian working on VMware. I'm going to talk about 2 of them in this post: Turning off the PC Speaker and Installing VMware Tools.

Turning off the PC Speaker

One of the first things you'll notice after you get Debian installed is that the PC speaker beep is very loud. (This actually applies to Linux, FreeBSD, etc. running in VMware.) In fact, on my machine it's so loud that it may make you lose control of your bladder. You'll also find that there is no way to control its volume or mute it. In fact, there is no way to control the PC Speaker from the Windows host so that VMware will be quiet.

Sure, you can setup your shell, Emacs, etc. so that they don't beep. However, I found myself configuring several applications and it was a real drag. I also wanted an iron clad guarantee that a random beep wasn't going to make me wet my pants.

So, here's the secret sauce - Add the line
to your preferences.ini file. This is more than likely in your Windows home directory. Somewhere like C:\Documents and Settings\tpierce.TPIERCED800\Application Data\VMware.

Installing VMware Tools

Once you have Debian installed and silenced, you will probably want to run VMware tools so that you can get the X driver and mousey goodness. The installation is pretty much like the documentation says, so I'm not going to repeat it here. I did run into a couple of issues, though.

The first issue I had was trying to get the kernel module compiled on my Debian system. I'm not quite sure why, but just having the kernel headers on my system wasn't enough. You may have to:
  • Grab the kernel headers matching your kernel and the kernel source matching your kernel from apt
  • Go into the kernel source/include directory and rm -r
  • Copy the appropriate kernel headers/include directory contents into the kernel source include directory
After doing this dance, the kernel module compiled on my system and tainted my kernel quite nicely.

The second issue I had was that the VMware installer script jacked up my XF86Config file. For some reason, it was bound and determined to set my pointer incorrectly. This prevented X from starting correctly. I had to edit the XF86Config Pointer section to look like:
  Protocol "imps/2"

Device "/dev/psaux"

After that, everything worked beautifully. I've noticed since then that every time I run the installer, I have to go edit my XF86Config because the installer changes the Pointer section again.

I've really been enjoying my Debian installation under VMware. It's like a little evil lab where I can tinker with software and not worry about corrupting one of my working environments. Bravo Debian and VMware teams!!