Upgrading Debian Etch to Lenny

I’m upgrading my Debian Linux VM’s to their testing release, called Lenny. The upgrade itself is fairly easy and fool-proof, but installing the VMware Tools (110271) is a harder thing to do.

Upgrading Etch to Lenny (source):

  1. edit /etc/apt/sources.list. Replace all occurences of ‘etch’ with ‘lenny’
  2. Run apt-get update
  3. Run apt-get dist-upgrade (twice!)
  4. Reboot
  5. Install the kernel headers for your new kernel.

VMware Tools failed to build vmmemtcl module

When running vmware-configure.pl, I first got an error stating that the kernel was built using gcc 4.1.3, but the system was configured to use gcc 4.3.2. I needed to execute the following command to resolve that problem: ‘export CC=/usr/bin/gcc-4.1’. After that, the perl script did executed normally. On building the kernel modules, the vmmemctl module couldn’t be built correctly, exiting with an error about get_info. After a lot of Googling, I discovered that the error I was getting (see screenshot) wasn’t related to the VMware Tools at all, but was caused by the 2.6.26 kernel I was using.

The get_info method has been removed in the 2.6.26 kernel. Hence, the VMware Tools (at least the vmmemctl module) cannot be installed. Other modules in the VMware Tools did not have any problem being compiled.

I started a thread on the VMware Forum to ask for help. Gagravarr pointed out that the VMware Tools (116503) packaged with VMware Server 2 would install fine. I’ve downloaded the linux .tar.gz package, as it is the simplest way to extract the needed linux.iso file.The file can be found at vmware-server-distrib/lib/isoimages/linux.iso. Extract the file, and mount it inside your VM as you would do with usual ISO’s.Do not use ‘Install/Upgrade VMware Tools’, as this will mount the original version.

Following the usual installation steps, everything installed as expected. I now have Debian Lenny with kernel 2.6.26 (and thus paravirtualization!) and the VMware Tools running fine!