How-To Geek

Run Windows in Ubuntu with VMware Player

Are you an enthusiast who loves their Ubuntu Linux experience but still needs to use Windows programs?  Here’s how you can get the full Windows experience on Ubuntu with the free VMware Player.

Linux has become increasingly consumer friendly, but still, the wide majority of commercial software is only available for Windows and Macs.  Dual-booting between Windows and Linux has been a popular option for years, but this is a frustrating solution since you have to reboot into the other operating system each time you want to run a specific application. 

With virtualization, you’ll never have to make this tradeoff.  VMware Player makes it quick and easy to install any edition of Windows in a virtual machine.  With VMware’s great integration tools, you can copy and paste between your Linux and Windows programs and even run native Windows applications side-by-side with Linux ones.

Getting Started

Download the latest version of VMware Player for Linux, and select either the 32-bit or 64-bit version, depending on your system.  VMware Player is a free download, but requires registration.  Sign in with your VMware account, or create a new one if you don’t already have one.


VMware Player is fairly easy to install on Linux, but you will need to start out the installation from the terminal.  First, enter the following to make sure the installer is marked as executable, substituting version/build_number for the version number on the end of the file you downloaded.

chmod +x ./VMware-Player-version/build_number.bundle

Then, enter the following to start the install, again substituting your version number:

gksudo bash ./VMware-Player-version/build_number.bundle


You may have to enter your administrator password to start the installation, and then the VMware Player graphical installer will open.  Choose whether you want to check for product updates and submit usage data to VMware, and then proceed with the install as normal.


VMware Player installed in only a few minutes in our tests, and was immediately ready to run, no reboot required.  You can now launch it from your Ubuntu menu: click Applications \ System Tools \ VMware Player.


You’ll need to accept the license agreement the first time you run it.


Welcome to VMware Player!  Now you can create new virtual machines and run pre-built ones on your Ubuntu desktop.


Install Windows in VMware Player on Ubuntu

Now that you’ve got VMware setup, it’s time to put it to work.  Click the Create a New Virtual Machine as above to start making a Windows virtual machine.

In the dialog that opens, select your installer disk or ISO image file that you want to install Windows from.  In this example, we’re select a Windows 7 ISO.  VMware will automatically detect the operating system on the disk or image.  Click Next to continue.


Enter your Windows product key, select the edition of Windows to install, and enter your name and password.


You can leave the product key field blank and enter it later.  VMware will ask if you want to continue without a product key, so just click Yes to continue.


Now enter a name for your virtual machine and select where you want to save it. 

Note: This will take up at least 15Gb of space on your hard drive during the install, so make sure to save it on a drive with sufficient storage space.


You can choose how large you want your virtual hard drive to be; the default is 40Gb, but you can choose a different size if you wish.  The entire amount will not be used up on your hard drive initially, but the virtual drive will increase in size up to your maximum as you add files. 

Additionally, you can choose if you want the virtual disk stored as a single file or as multiple files.  You will see the best performance by keeping the virtual disk as one file, but the virtual machine will be more portable if it is broken into smaller files, so choose the option that will work best for your needs.


Finally, review your settings, and if everything looks good, click Finish to create the virtual machine.


VMware will take over now, and install Windows without any further input using its Easy Install.  This is one of VMware’s best features, and is the main reason we find it the easiest desktop virtualization solution to use.


Installing VMware Tools

VMware Player doesn’t include the VMware Tools by default; instead, it automatically downloads them for the operating system you’re installing.  Once you’ve downloaded them, it will use those tools anytime you install that OS.  If this is your first Windows virtual machine to install, you may be prompted to download and install them while Windows is installing.  Click Download and Install so your Easy Install will finish successfully.


VMware will then download and install the tools.  You may need to enter your administrative password to complete the install. Other than this, you can leave your Windows install unattended; VMware will get everything installed and running on its own.


Our test setup took about 30 minutes, and when it was done we were greeted with the Windows desktop ready to use, complete with drivers and the VMware tools.  The only thing missing was the Aero glass feature.  VMware Player is supposed to support the Aero glass effects in virtual machines, and although this works every time when we use VMware Player on Windows, we could not get it to work in Linux. 

Other than that, Windows is fully ready to use.  You can copy and paste text, images, or files between Ubuntu and Windows, or simply drag-and-drop files between the two.


Unity Mode

Using Windows in a window is awkward, and makes your Windows programs feel out of place and hard to use.  This is where Unity mode comes in.  Click Virtual Machine in VMware’s menu, and select Enter Unity.


Your Windows desktop will now disappear, and you’ll see a new Windows menu underneath your Ubuntu menu.  This works the same as your Windows Start Menu, and you can open your Windows applications and files directly from it.


By default, programs from Windows will have a colored border and a VMware badge in the corner.  You can turn this off from the VMware settings pane.  Click Virtual Machine in VMware’s menu and select Virtual Machine Settings.  Select Unity under the Options tab, and uncheck the Show borders and Show badges boxes if you don’t want them.


Unity makes your Windows programs feel at home in Ubuntu.  Here we have Word 2010 and IE8 open beside the Ubuntu Help application.  Notice that the Windows applications show up in the taskbar on the bottom just like the Linux programs.  If you’re using the Compiz graphics effects in Ubuntu, your Windows programs will use them too, including the popular wobbly windows effect.


You can switch back to running Windows inside VMware Player’s window by clicking the Exit Unity button in the VMware window.


Now, whenever you want to run Windows applications in Linux, you can quickly launch it from VMware Player.



VMware Player is a great way to run Windows on your Linux computer.  It makes it extremely easy to get Windows installed and running, lets you run your Windows programs seamlessly alongside your Linux ones.  VMware products work great in our experience, and VMware Player on Linux was no exception.

If you’re a Windows user and you’d like to run Ubuntu on Windows, check out our article on how to Run Ubuntu in Windows with VMware Player.


Download VMware Player 3 (Registration required)

Download Windows 7 Enterprise 90-day trial

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

  • Published 06/2/10

Comments (46)

  1. Sumanth

    Nice explanation..I have insalled ubuntu in windows using VMware player but after insatlling am not able ubuntu in full screen..Is there any way get full screen..

  2. Asghar Ali

    Windows Home Premium 64bit Operating system users!!!

    I could not have Ubunut 64 or 86 i guess worked with above windows so be careful while downloading!

  3. Chris Mayer

    Of course to keep this for longer than 30 days will need a valid retail Windows 7 license as well.

    @Sumanth usually installing the guest tools in your guest OS will fix screen resolution issues.

  4. Josh

    Does anyone have any particular opinion about using VMWare Player vs. VirtualBox? Is one better than the other?

  5. Innocent Bystander

    @Josh: Virtualbox is WAY superior than VMware Player. The VMWare product which compares with Virtualbox is VMWare workstation which costs $200. In some areas, Virtualbox even surpasses VMWare workstation.

  6. Minkiu

    Hello ! Nice Tuto, but i’ve got a few questions:

    1. It’s possible to use an existing Hard Drive where i have my W7 installed with the VMWare Player?? I don’t fell like reintalling everything, and therefore, i have Ubuntu and W7 in different Hard Drives.

    2. In Ubuntu 10.10 NTFS-3G doesn’t work no? Because i’m unable to open my windows harddrive or data which are un ntfs TT

    Thank you,

    C ya

  7. Shawn

    I installed per instructions and everything seems to work but Unity. I get an error screen and the following message
    The virtual machine cannot enter Unity mode because:

    – The guest operating system does not have VMware Tools installed.
    – The guest operating system’s resolution cannot be changed.

    I am running Ubuntu 10.04 and XP in VMWare.

  8. Matthew Guay

    @Shawn – That would mean the VMware Tools didn’t install automatically when you installed XP. But you can install them now easily. Start your virtual machine, then in the menu bar click Virtual Machine and select Install VMware Tools. This should automatically open the VMware Tools installer in Windows XP, so just install as you would any Windows program and reboot the virtual machine when you’re done. Or, if the installer doesn’t automatically appear, open My Computer in XP and run the Setup file in the CD drive (which of course is a virtual CD drive that VMware player is emulating). Hope this helps, and let me know if you have any more problems!

  9. Matthew Guay

    @Minkiu – If you’re wanting to import your existing Windows installation to VMware Player, you can use the free VMware vCenter Converter to import it. I’ll write an article in the near future about how to use this to move your PC to Linux, but you can go ahead and give it a shot if you like –

    Then, as for NTFS drives, my Ubuntu 10.04 install is reading my NTFS drives fine. It should just work “out of the box” just fine…

  10. POC

    I use Windows for gaming.
    Games are not working with VmWare :((

  11. Justme

    This is a very good article!! :)
    Now I can make electrical drawings without leaving Ubuntu too.

  12. hithere

    Can i install windows 7 on vmware using a windows 7 system recovery disc?

  13. Matthew Guay

    @hithere – No, I don’t believe that will work. System Recovery disks will usually only work on the computer they were bundled with. Sorry!

  14. Chyno


    I am trying to install windows 7 on ubuntu 10.04 using vmware player.

    I followed the steps illustrated above…

    However, after the “completing installation” process is done and windows7 is setting up for first time use. I get a “Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [drive:\Windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [oobeSystem]” message. Therefore, windows 7 cannot finalize the installation process.

    Any suggestions? Many thanks!

  15. Matthew Guay

    @Chyno – It looks like the Easy Install script was somehow corrupted. Try deleting that virtual machine and creating a new one and see if it works. Otherwise, you may need to install Windows manually in a virtual machine, though it should not be too difficult for you if you’ve installed Windows on a standard computer before.

  16. Seidenschwan

    I installed Ubuntu 10.04 64bit and the Vmware Player 3.1 according to your page.

    But after installation there is no “Applications \ System Tools \ VMware Player.”

    How can I repair this ?

  17. LPPSTechguy


    I have run into a similar problem to Seidenschwan. I installed VMWare Player 3.1 on Ubuntu 10.04 64 bit and had the program show up in the applications menu. I opened and ran a prebuilt virtual machine without any problem. After shutting down the system, the next morning Player is gone, if I try to reinstall it shows that it is already installed, and if I try to open the virtual hard drive, it says that no applications is associated with that file type. There is no Player in the list of applications.


  18. Matthew Guay

    @Seidenschwan and LPPSTechguy – Wow, you’ve thrown me for a loop :) I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be showing up. This is a fully installed copy of Ubuntu and not a Live CD, right? I’ll try to check around and see if I can find anything; in the mean time, if you come up with a solution, let us know!

  19. Juan

    Hi. Is this possible that one can open a windows OS on ubuntu with this way? for example: I want to get ubuntu installed on my usb stick for seing, analizing others OS frome here. Is this possible? I hope soon answers …

  20. Scamp

    Wow, this is incredibly useful. Thanks. One question? Has anyone tried moving the license for the pre-installed Windows 7 on their machine to VMware Player/Workstation. DELL does not give disks (and does not even have Windows sticker with license number, and I read elsewhere, and here, that the recovery disk wont work. Maybe the license we get is specifically for THAT PC, and if we put it on a VM maybe it does not figure out that it is indeed the same hardware, so what I am asking wont work.

    BTW, I did give VMware vCenter Converter a whirl as suggested above and it hit an obscure failure. In all fairness the download site clearly lists all the Windows versions supported, and it does not include Windows 7.

  21. Sankar

    i have download VMware-Player-3.1.0-261024.i386.bundle but put a command for terminal show this error

    chmod: cannot access `./VMware-Player-3.1.0-261024.i386.bundle’: No such file or directory
    pls help me

  22. Chris

    I’m having the same problem as Sankar. Any ideas on how to fix this problem?

  23. kar

    For Sankar and Chris:
    on terminal you put “sudo sh VMware-Player-3.1-0-261024.i386.bundle.”

  24. Tush

    Do window 7 games work on Vmplyer ????????

  25. brahman

    help!!! I want to install VMware player on my Ubuntu 10.10 and cant seem to do it!!

    error —->
    chmod +x ./VMware-Player-3.1.2-301548.i386.bundle
    chmod: cannot access `./VMware-Player-3.1.2-301548.i386.bundle’: No such file or directory

    I tried sudo sh… .but it didnt work! :(

  26. Name

    you need to be in the correct directory – where the file is located – and also use the correct filename, matching the file downloaded. Then you will be able to run it.

  27. raja

    me too got the same error help me.

    chmod: cannot access `./VMware-Player-3.1.2-301548.i386.bundle’: No such file or directory

    which directory should i put the file

  28. Eshkar

    Awesome guide… I was able to load vista on my Ubuntu 10.10 x86 system with almost no problems. I can sync my ipod perfectly. I just can’t get into Unity. I don’t have a menu bar for VMware player to access the option for Unity. Here is a screen shot:
    Any ideas?

  29. p3yn

    Hi, Nice work! One cuestion: Does VMWarePlayer support Aero effects? or i will need VMWare Workstation? I tried Virtualbox but cant get Aero effeects work…
    I’m using Ubuntu 10.10 64 bits. Thanks in advance.

  30. gnaras

    after i run the
    gksudo bash ./VMware-Player-version/build_number.bundle
    command, it asks me for the su password and then it says “Extracting VMware Installer…”. And then nothing happens. The Graphical installer doesn’t open. I get back to the terminal prompt.
    What i’m i doing wrong?

  31. gnaras

    i’m using Ubuntu 10.10 and VMware 3.1.3

  32. baem

    I have a problem: when i write “chmod +x ./VMware-Player-3.1.3-324285.i386.bundle” then a message arrive like:”chmod: Zugriff auf „./VMware-Player-3.1.3-324285.i386.bundle“ nicht möglich: No such file or directory”.
    What happens? I’m using Ubuntu 10.10 and want to install the latest VMware player version.
    Please can someone help me?

  33. baem

    Where have i to save the bundle-File. Now it’s in the downloads. is that the problem? i really don’t know.

  34. fastninja


    If the bundle file is in Downloads, then you have to change directory. type:
    cd Downloads
    chmod +x ./VMware-Player-3.1.3-324285.i386.bundle
    gksudo bash ./VMware-Player-3.1.3-324285.i386.bundle

    Matthew, thank you for this excellent guide!!!

  35. F4u5T

    Got this working but does anyone know how I make it autostart on boot and make it power off the vm on shutdown?

  36. Samadams

    Same problem here as Scamp noted. I made recovery discs for a Sony VAIO with XP Pro. Then installed Ubuntu 10.04 and then VMWare Player. When I tried to install XP Pro from the recovery discs, it tells me this is not the same hardware. It IS physically the same machine that the discs were made from. I understand the virtualization may be the problem. Anyway around this?

  37. Mohamed

    Thank you very much this is better than virtualbox

  38. Manojit

    Installed Mac OS X in VMWare. Works perfectly.

  39. serpheroth

    I run Ubuntu 10.10 32-bit version and VMware-workstation 7.1. When I am installing Windows 7, VMware freazes now and then. I can’t finish installation, VMware always dies before installation is completed. What’s the problem?

  40. chocobo

    How do I find the Windows 7 ISO?

  41. kay

    iam installing win 7 in the vmware
    the path is : /home/vmware/Windows 7
    when i try to finish the install it tells me ( No permission to perform this operation.)
    how to fix that?

  42. Tim

    I want to install windows within Ubuntu, w7 would require new and improved hardware so I’m happy to use xp. But I’m worried my old computer can’t handle two os’s simultaneously. What specs would I need?

  43. Erich

    Hello mathew i’m building a box from scratch and i want to have both OS’s. Now, my only question is, does anyone know if is better to run Ubuntu within windows or Windows within Ubuntu? my friend that works for VMWare suggested to run Windows withun ubuntu because Linux makes better usage of the hardware, however i’ve seen posts on sites that windows runs too slow when run within ubuntu and that is better to run ubuntu within windows. Any suggestions!?

  44. Dave

    Interesting article. The laptop came with windows 7 installed, but that was a resource hog.
    I wanted Ubuntu installed anyway, but instead of dual boot with xp, am now considering xp virtual as you outline.

    My question:
    Any idea how much resources running windows within Ubuntu uses? Trying this on a core 2 duo 1.3 ghz processor with 4gigs ram. Would be great if it is a success.

  45. Russ

    Very clear explanation — thanks for doing it!

    Reply to Scamp: Even when Dell was still providing installation disks you had to get a second Windows license to install it on a virtual machine. The product key from Dell somehow was tied to the firmware in the computer, and the virutal machine wouldn’t access it.

    My own problem: I’ve installed an XP virtual machine on several previous versions of Ubuntu without any problem. I now have a new computer running Ubuntu 11.04 64-bit and am trying to install 32-bit Windows XP on the 64-bit VMware Player. Everything appears to be fine with the installation, but when I log out of Windows it issues a message “unrecoverable error, unexpected signal: 6” and says it is trying to find a site license (!). If I susequently try to open the virtual machine, it simply hangs. Has anyone else gotten a similar response or have any suggestions?

  46. chika

    Hi Matheau
    I installed per instructions and everything seems to work fine but when I try to on the virtual machine I keep seen the following error.
    “Your Processor does not support PEA, which is required by VMware Player. Cannot continue”

    I am running Ubuntu 10.10 and XP in VMWare.

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