How-To Geek

How To Run Ubuntu in Windows 7 with VMware Player

Would you like to use Ubuntu Linux programs, but prefer the convenience of Windows 7?  With VMware Player, you can install a full copy of Ubuntu and integrate it with your Windows 7 computer for free.

VMware Player makes it easy to install Ubuntu Linux as a virtual machine in only 5 clicks.  It then offers easy access to Ubuntu programs straight from your desktop with Unity mode.  Here’s how you can set this up on your computer.

Getting Started

First, download and install VMware Player (link below).  It is a free download, but requires registration.


You may see some prompts about installing drivers; simply approve them.  We didn’t see them on our latest test, but have in the past.  When you are finished installing VMware Player, you will have to restart your computer.


Install Ubuntu

Once you have installed VMware Player and downloaded Ubuntu, you’re ready to setup Ubuntu.  Open VMware Player, and choose “Create a New Virtual Machine.”


You can install Ubuntu from a disk, or directly from the ISO file you can download (link below).  This is the simplest method if you’re simply wanting to use Ubuntu in VMware Player.  However, if you do have an Ubuntu disk, then feel free to choose that instead.  Once you’ve selected your install media, VMware Player will automatically detect Ubuntu and will show that it will be installed with Easy Install.  Click next to continue.


Now enter your name, user name, and password.  All fields are required.


Please note that the username can only have lowercase characters and numbers.


Also, the password must be at least 8 characters long.


Now, choose a name for your virtual machine and where to save it.  Simply click next to accept the defaults.


You can choose how large you want your virtual hard drive to be; the default is 20Gb, but you can choose a different size if you wish.  Please note that the entire 20Gb will not be used up on your hard drive initially.  Ours only took up 3.6Gb with a clean install, but this will increase as you install programs and save files.


And that’s it!  You can review your settings and change them here if you wish, or simply click Finish to start installing Ubuntu!


VMware player will now install Ubuntu without any further input.  The window may show cryptic commands, but don’t worry, as you don’t have to do anything else to install Ubuntu.


During the install, you may be prompted to download and install VMware tools for Linux.  Simply click Download and the tools will automatically download and install, though you may have to approve the UAC prompt.



VMware will continue installing Ubuntu even while the tools are downloading.  Once the install is finished, you will be presented with your Ubuntu login screen.  The full install took about 30 minutes in our test.


Select your user name, then enter your password to access Ubuntu.


Welcome to your Ubuntu desktop!


Installing VMware Tools

VMware Player will attempt to automatically install the VMware tools into Ubuntu during the initial setup, but sometimes this does not work.  In our test, the tools failed to install during the Ubuntu setup since our internet connection was down.  In your tests, it may or may not automatically install.  If it doesn’t, follow the following steps to install them.  Please note that this is fairly complicated, so be sure to enter the correct things during the install.

To install the tools, click VM and then select “Install VMware Tools” in the menu.


This will open a File Browser window.  Double click on the VMwareTools icon; this should look like a box that says tar.gz on the front.


This will open the compressed file.  Click the Extract button at the top of the window.


Now, choose where to save the files.  Simply click “Desktop” on the left, and then click Extract.


This will take a moment.  When the files are extracted, click “Close”.


Now, click the Applications menu at the top of the screen, click Accessories, and then click Terminal.


Enter the following to access the files you unzipped before:

cd ./Desktop/vmware-tools-distrib


Now, enter:

sudo bash

and enter your password when prompted.  Please note that the password will not show while you are typing it in; simply type it in, and press Enter when completed.


Now we can install the VMware tools.  To do this, enter:


and then simply press enter at the prompts to accept the defaults.  It should ask a total of 5 questions, and just press enter at all of them. image

After a bit, it may ask the following questions about documentation files; simply press enter again at each prompt.


The installation is now complete.  You will still need to configure the tools, so simply enter “yes” at the prompt to automatically do that.


It may ask to enable an experimental backup feature; we simply entered “no” at this prompt.


Then, it will want to setup the graphics configurations.  Enter “yes” at the prompt.  Your screen may flicker or go black momentarily while it is changing these settings.


Finally, you will see the following message when the install is complete.


Restart Ubuntu by clicking on the button with your username at the top right, and then selecting Restart from the menu.


Once your virtual machine has rebooted, login to Ubuntu as before and your setup is complete!

Integrate Ubuntu with Windows 7

You can already use all of Ubuntu’s tools and features directly from the Ubuntu desktop in VMware Player.  But, if you would like to use your Ubuntu programs seamlessly in Windows, we need to activate Unity mode.  Click VM and then Unity Mode in the VMware Player Menu.


Now, you will have an Ubuntu menu right above your Windows 7 Start button!


By default, the Ubuntu windows will have a border and VMware logo on them.


To change this, click VM and then Settings, select the Options tab, and uncheck the “Show borders” and “Show badges” boxes.


Now the windows will look just like they do in Ubuntu.


You can run Ubuntu windows side-by-side with Windows 7 windows, and can copy and paste, drag-and-drop between the windows, and more!  The Ubuntu programs’ icons show up in the taskbar the same as normal Windows programs.


You can access all of the files in your Ubuntu virtual machine from the Ubuntu menu.  Select Other, and then choose Computer or Home Folder.



VMware Player gives us an exciting way to have a complete Ubuntu install right inside Windows 7.  This would work the exact same on any modern version of Windows, including all editions of XP and Vista.  In this tutorial we used Ubuntu 9.10, but other recent editions should work the same.


Download Ubuntu

Download VMware Player 3

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 02/25/10

Comments (85)

  1. noobyguy

    This is an amazing tool for productivity. I also wonder if it would be possible to unify windows 7 with OSX as well. It would be even more amazing to unify windows 7, OSX and ubuntu all at the same time. Is this even possible? I await an amazing post from the-how-to-geek about this. :D *Crosses fingers*

  2. Umakanth

    Thanks for this excellent tutorial. Saves lot of time when we need to work on both OS.

  3. Ryan Dozier

    Vmwares Unity mode is okay, but I like using Virtual Box’s seamless mode. Especially with Ubuntu, you can configure the toolbars just right to make them look like actually toolbars for the Host OS. Here is a good picture of it being setup just right

  4. Minkiu

    This works the other way? (Run Windows 7 in unity mode form a Ubuntu machine ? )

  5. ladapasas akadino

    Great tutorial

  6. szurubru

    Is this possible with Windows Virtual PC ? I have professional version of win7 and I wonder if I can run ubuntu next to the xp mode without installing VMware Player ?

  7. bioman

    Will this make me be able to run compiz on windows7?

  8. glavinstone

    Please cover Pubuntu (Portable ubuntu) if you have time. Thanks

  9. CPJames19

    @Ryan Dozier How do you setup Virtual Box’s seamless mode to look like it does on your link?

  10. AdamS

    This worked great thanks.

  11. theunspoken

    Love this tutorial and everything on this site. Thanks Geek.

  12. Thai Dang Vu

    If you use Windows 7, you must be liking its transparent bottom panel and its new taskbar. If you run Ubuntu in a virtual machine, how can you run compiz to make a transparent panel? After a few days using Ubuntu in a VM in Windows 7, you might complain how slow Ubuntu is (because of the NTFS).

    My suggestion is dual boot. Then you’ll see how fast Ubuntu is compared to Windows 7

  13. Abhijeet Singh

    Hey frend,

    I have a small query, I have done everything what you have mentioned here. Unity is working very well here. But now I have installed Google Chrome, but its not showing in the Ubuntu menu in Unity mode. How can I display installed applications in the Unity Ubuntu menu?

  14. brian

    hello Matthew is possible to have a guide on how to install open virtual machine tools ???

  15. bryan

    pls cover sun virtualbox in the next article

  16. poem

    How can I enable wireless internet connection in vmware player? I am using ubuntu through vmware in windows 7.Each time i try to connect it connect through wired network and does not work. I am using it on my laptop.

  17. Saurav Verma

    That was one comprehensive way to explain it. It was too good.. Thanks a lot…!!!

    Also if you can answer the last question asked by POEM, it would be really great.
    Currently I am using Ubuntu on my Dell Optiplex Workstation on WinXP but plan to install it soon on my Dell Laptop.Then I would require to connect VM through wireless.

    Thanks in Advance..
    Keep continuing this splendid work..!!!!

  18. Matthew Guay

    @poem @Saurav Verma – To connect to the wireless network, I believe the best way will be to open Settings in VMware Player, select Network Adapter on the left, and then select NAT. I think that will be the most compatible with your Ubuntu drivers, though I can’t actually tell for sure. It may work differently depending on your hardware. One other thing … make sure you installed the integration components, as these should get everything working for you just by installing them. Hope this helps!

  19. Karsten

    Do any of you have problems using key combinations like Alt gr – < or Alt gr – 2 to do \ or @?

    In unity mode these keys dont work. But in windowed mode or desktop mode they work just fine.
    How can this be?

  20. Meg

    I can’t type the password..
    I installed the Ubuntu 10.04 three times, but the letters just don’t show up.
    And yes, I know about Ctrl+g and Ctrl+alt :(

  21. Marcos

    I can’t type the password either :-(

  22. Chris

    Re the problem of Ubuntu 10.04 not allowing password input from the computer keyboard, there is a work-around.

    On the Ubuntu login screen, just to the left of the date, there is a tiny figure in a circle. Click on that and a menu appears. Select ‘on screen keyboard’ and a keyboard appears in the ubuntu window. Use that to enter the password and you’re off. Once in Ubuntu, the computer keyboard should work.

    Hope this sorts things.

  23. Brian Rehg

    I have the same issue with the keyboard not working. When I click the virtual keyboard it appears for about 1/2 a second and then disappears.

  24. Gaurav Jain

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for creating such a nice tutorial. Its really good and easy.

    – Gaurav

  25. Gaurav Jain

    Hi Brian, I had the same problem on the virtual keyboard coming for just a sec .. but then if you restart the VMware player it will come up next time and if you enter the password using that …the ubuntu works awesome .


  26. Meg

    Waaaaaah *-*
    It worked \o/
    Thank you so much, Chris and Gaurav ^^

  27. jjack

    I cant type in the password. I clicked the on screen keyboard but it wont show up

    please help me out

  28. Pat Harris

    Setting virtual keyboard and rebooting worked for me too. I’m bummed it’s not a permanent solution… I have to use the virtual keyboard every time I log on.

  29. Asghar Ali

    Windows home premium 64bit opearting system users
    For Your Info.

    I downlaoded Ubuntu 64bit however there is a compatibility issue with the Vmware Player & ubunut 64bit so please be careful while downloading.

    I will try 32bit ubuntu & will inform perhaps.

  30. Matthew Guay

    FYI, VMware has released an update to VMware Player, so now the latest version is 3.1. If you already have VMware Player installed, try checking for updates in the program or download the latest version from VMWare via the link above.

    Hope this clears up everyone’s problems. And, again, 64 bit versions of Ubuntu should work fine, but if you’re having trouble, give the standard 32 bit version a shot.

  31. Michael

    This is amazing. I already had a setup before, but with VirtualBox. Now I’m switching to this, just because of Unity.

  32. Nic

    This is a truly excellent how-to! Thanks so much for sharing. The only thing I would add is a little more detail on the hardware configuration – especially allocating RAM to the virtual machine. The first couple of times, I gave the VM too little. Even though I can view the allocation after the build, I can’t seem to change it. Thanks again!

  33. dkean

    brilliant tutorial. i was surprised at how quickly i managed to set this up. i have an old banger of a laptop which i run ubuntu 10.04 on, and i love it! and i was tempted to remove windows 7 from my good laptop, becuase tbh ubuntu is much more versatile and also, in my opinion, easier to use. was thinking about a dual boot system but i didnt really want to do that. also i was reluctant to replace win7 due to the fact i have a lot of software which wont run on ubuntu. this is the perfect solution, i have been using this side-by-side setup for only a few hours and already the benefits are apparent. thank you for posting this tutorial, and i hope to randomly stumble on more tutorials which would improve my home computing experience.

  34. Joe

    Tried alternate install of Kubuntu 10.04. It installed, but as a command prompt only. Had to apt-get the Kubuntu-desktop (actually had to do apt-get install kdm first). Still installing the kubuntu-desktop. We’ll see if it ultimately works.

  35. Joe

    Ok, 32-bit full version of Kubuntu worked better than 64 bit alternative install, but 32 bit Ubuntu full install worked best so far (10.04 for all). However, not able to get unity mode to work, should I try to re-install vmtools?

  36. Matthew Guay

    @Joe – Yes, that would likely be a good idea. Try reinstalling the tools, and I bet that would solve the problems. It might not, but it’s worth a shot!

  37. kapil

    this is m first time i am using UBUNTU on vm-ware. i just did what you said it works like charm.
    Thanks for the wonderfull tutorial.

  38. Soran

    I did the same as you did,

    worked great appreciated man

  39. sylvia

    thanks for the quide and i have successfully installed ubuntu 10.4 in my system using vmware player

  40. EggTwitch

    This is an easy-to-follow guide. Installed and everything works as expected. One downside is that it uses a lot of RAM and degrades computer performance when VMplayer is running.

    Other than that, it’s great for simple use.

    Thanks for the great guide!

  41. Wes

    If I go through this procedure and download Ubuntu through VMplayer, I will be able to run Ubuntu and Windows together, but if I wanted to would I be able to run Ubuntu by itself without Windows? As in, be prompt a screen that asks which operating system I will be booting with at start up?

  42. James

    @Wes – Yes. Use, which you can download at Ubuntu’s Windows installer downloads page:

  43. waseem

    nice tutorial man this helps alot…………thanks buddy

  44. ben

    this site is really a wonderful site. lot of good stuff for learners n how i wish i new of it earlier but its never too late all the same. thumbs up guys

  45. Steve

    I currently use a multi boot on my laptop – I use XP for my general work and then reboot for Ubuntu for any banking type work due to the security problems with windows OS – viruses etc. Unfortunately cannot yet migrate to Ubuntu full time.

    My question is – If I install Vmware and use Ubuntu within the player is it as safe as using it as a multi boot system.

    Otherwise excellent article – as are lots of others I have now looked at on this site.

  46. Matthew Guay

    @Steve – Yup, that’ll work fine. VMware will not mess up your multiboot setup at all; it just works like any other application in Windows, except it lets you run another operating system inside that program :)

    Thanks for the kind words; glad you’ve found our site helpful!

  47. Steve W

    Thanks for the great tutorial. It’s really helping me out having these two installed on the one machine.

  48. sanjeev

    the great site i found ever.

  49. Andy

    Thanks for that but I got stuck. I switch to unity and select an app from the list but it starts in the Ubuntu VM, not on my normal windows desktop. I have Win7 64bit host and Ubuntu 10.10 64bit guest.


  50. Stefan

    Very Useful!!!

    Thank you Matthew.


  51. Todd

    What if I already have Ubuntu installed in a multi-boot? Can I install vmware or do I have to remove Ubuntu and then reinstall using vmware?


  52. Matthew Guay

    @Todd – You’d be fine to keep them both. Keep your multi-boot, and add VMware to Windows, and you’ll have the best of both worlds! ;)

  53. Ravi Sathish

    Ok here’s the deal,
    I have Ubuntu installed in Multiboot; But I can’t access it through VMware Player; It’s asking me to create a new virtual machine; How do I use a vmx file from my multiboot ubuntu?

  54. vishva

    wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its a great tutorial

  55. marla

    Hi. I’d like to thank you so much! I thought until now that i had to throw my scanner hp2200c and my printer hp lj1000sereis.
    I did it and everything works fine, even my old scanner but not my hp lj1000series! It seems to be
    unconnected. I see it and send files to be printed. It says ready and seems doing the job but not really. Any suggestions? I use Win7 premium 64bit.
    Thank you

  56. marla

    yupiiiii!!!! my hp lj1000 just worked!!!! i have over two months looking forward a solution because hp just didn’t support anymore this machine.
    i really thank you soooo much about your solution.

  57. Carla Castro

    Matthew, The tutorial is just awsome! Thank you for sharing. Nonetheless, after the “re start” step my player was never able to load ubuntu.

    This was the error

    Should I install everything from start or by looking at the error you’ll be able to help?

    Thank you

  58. Carla Castro

    Matthew, sorted! Thank you so much for the great tutorial! Thanks!

  59. rasheee

    Thanks a lot….installed Ubuntu in VMWare in Windows 7..

  60. bittoo

    thanks broooo….
    it working good……

  61. P Sheldon

    Sounds like a lot of work just to run a shitty Linux wannabe & I don’t “register” jack squat.

  62. BoldMove

    It’s called having an “option” to run it and a few clicks constitutes alot of work?

  63. Rehan

    I have Ubuntu 10.10 within VMware Workstation running. Which option/app can allow multiple users from different machines within LAN to connect via VNC etc. and work with Ubuntu?

    Thanks and regards,


  64. DK

    Thanks. I was able to install ubuntu 10.10 64 bit version. I had issues with x config it skipped as it complained about drivers being not available. Regardless it works great. However I do have a question, how does one share or see a removable usb hard drive under both windows and ubuntu (or vmplayer) ? Apparently only one of them can see the external usb drive.

  65. Shishir Mittal

    Thanks for the tutorial! Well explained with all the necessary screenshots :)

  66. Pat Brown

    i cannot get vmware player to install. every time i try to install the .exe, file a script error occurs. any thoughts?

  67. evtaindra

    brother, I would ask
    what if it uses wireless internet?
    and how the Network Adapter VMnet1 setting imaginable in local …
    because the wireless connection using dhcp.
    then how in the VMwaren dhcp settings?

  68. viru

    hey i have downloaded “vmware” player……..but whenever i click on its setup it doesn’t start….it shows a grey box as shown below

    please help……….and also tell me if there is any software apart from “fcrack zip” to recover password of encrypted zip file…..i have tried many soft wares because “fcrack zip” doesn’t work with win 7

  69. viru

    i am not able to show the screen shot because this site doesn’t allow that

  70. BAsil LIu

    When I type in cd./Desktop/vmware-tools-distrib it says bash: cd./Desktop/vmware-tools-distrib: No such file or directory

  71. SDG

    Nicely done, thank you. I think the best point, for me, is to highlight password entry. You’ll go nuts thinking that it isn’t working until you realize that the typing doesn’t show up during entry, HA. Just type away and enter.


    It worked! Thanks. Nicely written tutorial. Thanks for taking all the time to add the screenshots along the way. I’m too lazy to do such a nice job! Kudos.

  73. Brian

    Hi there, thank you so much for this easy to follow tutorial for the Linux noob! I have successfully installed Ubuntu 11.04 inside VMware player, enabled VMware tools, and Unity. I was wondering about the start up mode of Ubuntu. It seems to be in a simple mode. is there any way to change it to the better looking graphical mode inside VMware player? I did see a check box checked “Accelerate 3D Graphics.”

    Thanks again for getting me up and running,
    Brian :)

  74. EJ

    i have a problem. everytime i install the VMware tools it always says that “A certificate error occurred for the update server. Check your Internet settings or contact your system administrator.” .. what should i dooooooooooooooooooo???

  75. Zoey

    What folder is the iso image file in? i cant find it.

  76. Wow

    Great post! Well-written even for the dummies! Thanks!

  77. Reaper

    so i have installed player and tools, works great all execpt one fact, it wont give me the GUI all i get is the CLI?!?!?! any ideas??

  78. Sunny

    The software is amazing and the tutorial was really great.
    thanx for the detailed explanation

  79. shiva
  80. shiva


  81. Deepak

    Hello Mattev,
    This is of great help, but I am facing a problem,
    I tried the same with versions.


    I am not getting the GUI, instead, just taking me into terminal mode (Commands). What could be the reason? Please help me out, I am new to this, and want to learn.

  82. Deepak

    It seems that few others had the same problem as mine,
    I tried installing the long term support version of ubuntu and it worked, Thus the latest version available for download seems to have some problem in providing GUI interface on vmware, or VMWare is not upgraded to provide that feature for later version

    is the one that I downloaded and installed, and it provides me the GUI interface.


  83. Bikash

    Thanks a Lot Buddy……

  84. Rajeshwer Rikka

    For those not getting the GUI mode, and only getting terminal mode, try clicking on “Send Ctrl + Alt + Delete” from the virtual Machine menu when you are on terminal mode. It automatically starts the GUI for you.

  85. santosh

    superb tutorial,,,i installed ubuntu ,,,,thanks a lot

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