Last year, I bought a 20″ wide-screen monitor which I run at a resolution of 1680×1050 pixels. Working with all that screen space is fantastic (especially with 4 virtual desktops), except that I’ve got so used to it that the standard 1024×768 pixels on the notebook PC that I use for work seems too small and an upgrade is out of the question as the PC is only 18 months old.
For a while now, I’ve been running the notebook on the desk next to my main display but I’m running out of desk space. As I virtualised my corporate Windows XP build a while back, I thought it would be great if, when I’m working at home, I could run the Linux VMware Server Console on my Mac (which is connected to the large display). The virtual machine would still be limited to 1024×768 but I could access corporate applications in the VMware Server Console and do the big screen stuff (web, e-mail, document edits, etc.) natively on the Mac, using the whole display. Yes, I know that if I used Microsoft Virtual Server I could run it in a browser, but I’d need ActiveX and I’m not using Internet Explorer. Similarly RDP is an option, but I find it to be a bit flaky on an Intel Mac. Anyway, I’m a (pseudo-)geek and so I need to feed on problems like this from time to time!
Actually, much of the hard work has already been done for me – googling for
vmware console mac soon turns up Rui Carmo’s article at The Tao of Mac on how to run [the VMware Console] remotely with Apple’s X11; however Rui’s article was written a while ago now and my VMware Server (v1.0.1-build 29996) installation on Fedora Core 5 doesn’t use the command
vmware-console – instead I have to use
vmware. Nevertheless, it got me 90% of the way there:
- On the (Linux) VMware Server:
- Configure SSH and X11 forwarding (my original post used a Windows client and public/private keys but the principles are similar – this time I used password authentication, making sure that the
PasswordAuthentication yes and
X11Forwarding yes lines were present in /etc/ssh/sshd_config and restarting the SSH daemon with
service sshd restart).
- Locate an appropriate keyboard map in /usr/lib/vmware/xkeymap/, edit the map if necessary (there is a VMware article about keyboard mapping on a Linux host that may be useful – don’t worry that it’s a VMware Workstation document) and edit ~/.vmware/preferences to include
xkeymap.language="keyboardmap" (I used
gb101 for my Apple UK keyboard).
- On the Mac:
At this point VMware Server Console ran successfully under X11 on my Mac; however whenever I powered on a virtual machine all I saw was a black screen and a message in the xterm window which read:
X11 connection rejected because of wrong authentication.
After trying a remote VMware Server Console connection to
localhost and restarting the Linux host (I’m not sure which, if either, of these made a difference) I found that the virtual machine was actually starting but that for some reason the display wasn’t being repeated in the X11 VMware Server Console on the Mac; however this time there was a different message displayed:
Unable to connect to the MKS: You need execute access in order to connect with the VMware Server Console. Access denied for config file: /var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machines/virtualmachinenname/virtualmachinenname.vmx.
After setting execute permissions to the virtual machine configuration file
chmod +x virtualmachinenname.vmx (changing the permission set from 640 to 751), I was able to successfully view the VM on the Mac (and simultaneously on the Linux host) – the only (very minor) issues are that the mouse pointer is solid white when accessing the virtual machine (so sometimes I lose it) and that the sound is not forwarded (no big deal). Now my notebook PC is docked on a shelf away from the desk, with the lid closed, and I’m running the VMware Server Console from the Mac, having reclaimed some space on my desk.