VMware Workstation - Remotely access to a VMware Workstation virtual machine over VNC

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Because VNC has become a reference for the remote access to a computer, VMware has integrated a VNC server in some of its programs, including : VMware Workstation, VMware ESX, VMware Server and VMware Fusion.

  1. Enable and configure the built-in VNC server
  2. Configure and use RealVNC client

1. Enable and configure the built-in VNC server

To remotely access a virtual machine using a VNC client, you must first enable the VNC connections to the desired virtual machine.
For this, select the desired virtual machine and click on "Edit virtual machine settings".

Then, go to the "Options" tab, click "VNC Connections" and check the "Enable VNC connections" box.

By default, the VNC server of this machine will listen on port 5900.
If you want to enable the server for several machines, just use different ports.

Note : you can specify a password if you want. This password will be encrypted in DES and then, base64 encoded by VMware Workstation.

Warning : as indicated by VMware, the connection will not be encrypted.

By default, the VNC server built-in in VMware program is configured to use the keyboard "US101 keyboard map (U.S. English)."
If you want to use another keyboard layout, you need to edit the vmx file of your virtual machine to use the desired keyboard

For this, once you need to enable VNC connections for the desired vm, shut down the vm if necessary, and then open the vmx file of the virtual machine with a text editor such as Notepad or Notepad++.

In this file, add/edit the following lines :

Plain Text

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = "TRUE"
RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = "5900"

Then, add this line to use another keyboard :

Plain Text

RemoteDisplay.vnc.keyMap = "us"

Note : The list of supported keyboards and values are on the "Language Codes" page of the vmware website.

Source : vmware.com

Finally, save the vmx and restart the virtual machine file.
Note : If changes made in the vmx file have not been used by VMware Workstation, shut down the virtual machine and double-click on the vmx file. This will force VMware Workstation to use the new configuration specified in this vmx file.

2. Configure and use RealVNC client

In this tutorial, we will use RealVNC Viewer, because VMware talks about it in its documentation.
Once launched, click on the "Options" button.

Click on the "Advanced" button at the bottom.

Then, go to the "Expert" tab.
As mentioned in the official documentation of VMware, you need to configure these settings:
- PreferredEncoding must be set to : Hextile
- ColorLevel must be set to : full

Note: If you don't configure these two parameters, you may get an error message : RFB protocol error ...

To connect remotely to your virtual machine, you must use the host computer's IP address and not that of the virtual machine.
As indicated by VMware in the parameters of the virtual machine.

Note : because the default port is 5900, you could ignore it and type only the IP address of the host machine.

Click on Connection.

VNC Viewer warns you that the connection will not be encrypted.
Click Continue.

Enter the password specified in the settings of the virtual machine you are trying to access over VNC.

If the configuration is correct for the keyboard, the text typed will be correct.