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open-vm-tools and VMWare Shared Folders for Ubuntu guests

(NB: adapted from this Ask Ubuntu thread -- tested to work on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS through Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (Jammy).

Unlike using VMWare Tools to enable Linux guest capabilities, the open-vm-tools package doesn't auto-mount shared VMWare folders. This can be frustrating in various ways, but there's an easy fix.


Install open-vm-tools and run:

sudo mount -t fuse.vmhgfs-fuse .host:/ /mnt/hgfs -o allow_other

(Make sure /mnt/hgfs exists and is empty)

You can put configuration stanzas in /etc/fstab to facilitate this, and then mount /mnt/hgfs will work.

See the Setting up auto-mounting section for setting up auto-mounting instead.


Make sure open-vm-tools (and open-vm-tools-desktop if you're using a desktop environment) are installed, and that you've rebooted after their installation.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install open-vm-tools open-vm-tools-desktop

Make sure you have a /mnt/hgfs directory made and empty. If not:

sudo mkdir -p /mnt/hgfs


To mount the filesystem, run:

sudo mount -t fuse.vmhgfs-fuse .host:/ /mnt/hgfs -o allow_other

The shared folders will now be in subdirectories of /mnt/hgfs

Setting up auto-mounting

Add the following line to /etc/fstab:

.host:/	/mnt/hgfs	fuse.vmhgfs-fuse	auto,allow_other	0	0

Update: based on extensive testing, the auto keyword seems to work fine. Prior versions suggested noauto. If you have trouble with auto, change to noauto and see below

If using the noauto keyword, but you want automount

  1. Create or edit the script /etc/rc.local (as root), and add the line:

  mount /mnt/hgfs

  1. make sure rc.local is executable and owned by root:

    sudo chown root:root /etc/rc.local
    sudo chmod 0755 /etc/rc.local
  2. enable the rc.local service in systemd:

    sudo systemctl enable rc-local.service
  3. reboot

The rc.local script runs as the last step of startup, allowing the HGFS filesystem to mount after open-vm-tools services are running, which is required for successful operation.

Browse /mnt/hgfs at will.

#!/usr/bin/env bash
## this must be run as root!
## It should set up VMWare Shared folders on Ubuntu guests using open-vm-tools
## USAGE [noauto]
## fail if we're not run as root
if [ "$EUID" != 0 ]
(>&2 echo "$0 must be run as root")
exit 127
## set up FSTAB
mkdir -p $mountpoint
if [ "$1" == "noauto" ]
echo ".host:/ ${mountpoint} fuse.vmhgfs-fuse nauto,allow_other 0 0" >> /etc/fstab
echo ".host:/ ${mountpoint} fuse.vmhgfs-fuse auto,allow_other 0 0" >> /etc/fstab
echo "You may now `mount ${mountpoint}`; it will also be auto-mounted on next boot"
exit 0
# if using the `auto` keyword, no rc.local setup is required, and we're done here.
## set up rc.local script
if ! [ -f "$rclocal" ]
echo '#!/bin/sh' > "$rclocal"
echo "mount '$mountpoint'" >> "$rclocal"
chown $owner "$rclocal"
chmod 0755 "$rclocal"
## enable rc.local service
systemctl enable rc-local.service
systemctl start rc-local.service
## report and exit
(>&2 echo -e "set up and started $rclocal\nyou should be able to browse $mountpoint now and after reboots")
exit 0
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keithrbennett commented Apr 18, 2021

Confirmed, in (Kubuntu) Ubuntu 20.04, I only had to add the following line to /etc/fstab, then reboot:

.host:/ /mnt/hgfs fuse.vmhgfs-fuse auto,allow_other 0 0

No other steps were necessary for me.

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averyfreeman commented Jul 19, 2021

I have domain user in AD with LDAP UID/GID, so I set uid=<ADuserUID>,gid=<ADuserGID> and permissions/ownership persist across platforms (note: I use local account in Linux, I just change the UID/GID of the account so AD knows who it is)

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BillHargen commented Dec 13, 2021

Adding the one line to /etc/fstab also worked for me.

I am using VMware Fusion 12.2.1 on macOS 11.6.1 (Big Sur) with an Ubuntu 18.04.2 guest. I had tried using the VMware Tools package supplied by VMware Fusion. The /mnt/hgfs service worked fine, but copy-and-paste between the guest and host did not work at all. Using the open-vm-tools-desktop package instead of VMware Tools solved the copy/paste issue, but /mnt/hgfs was empty until I opened the VM settings and toggled "Enable Shared Folders" off then on.

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davehodg commented Dec 31, 2021

Great little piece of knowledge. All good for me.

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jrep41 commented May 19, 2022

Thank you!!!

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ppilotto commented Jun 7, 2022

Worked for me too. Thank you

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Linhuihang commented Jul 15, 2022

It works! Thank you!!

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slhck commented Sep 9, 2022

@kfreund I followed your steps precisely but it didn't load the shared folders.

root@debian:/home/debian# cat /etc/auto.master.d/hgfs.autofs 
/mnt/autofs /etc/auto.mnt
root@debian:/home/debian# cat /etc/auto.mnt
hgfs -fstype=fuse.vmhgfs-fuse,allow_other,uid=1000 .host:/
root@debian:/home/debian# automount -f -v
Starting automounter version 5.1.8, master map /etc/auto.master
using kernel protocol version 5.05
lookup_nss_read_master: reading master file /etc/auto.master
do_init: parse(sun): init gathered global options: (null)
lookup_read_master: lookup(file): read entry +dir:/etc/auto.master.d
lookup_nss_read_master: reading master dir /etc/auto.master.d
lookup_read_master: lookup(dir): scandir: /etc/auto.master.d
include_file: lookup(dir): include: /etc/auto.master.d/hgfs.autofs
lookup_nss_read_master: reading master file /etc/auto.master.d/hgfs.autofs
do_init: parse(sun): init gathered global options: (null)
lookup_read_master: lookup(file): read entry /mnt/autofs
lookup_read_master: lookup(file): read entry +auto.master
lookup_nss_read_master: reading master files auto.master
do_init: parse(sun): init gathered global options: (null)
master_do_mount: mounting /mnt/autofs
automount_path_to_fifo: fifo name /var/run/autofs.fifo-mnt-autofs
lookup_nss_read_map: reading map file /etc/auto.mnt
do_init: parse(sun): init gathered global options: (null)
mounted indirect on /mnt/autofs with timeout 300, freq 75 seconds
st_ready: st_ready(): state = 0 path /mnt/autofs

Any idea?

This works:

root@debian:/home/debian# vmhgfs-fuse .host:/ /mnt/hgfs/ -o allow_other -o uid=1000
root@debian:/home/debian# ls /mnt/hgfs/

But it is not a solution for putting into the /etc/fstab file if shared folders have not been enabled yet.

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