HowTo: Change VMWare Player Guest OS Display Resolution

Here is one useful bit for anyone running, or thinking of running, a local test/development environment under VMWare Player version 2.0 with a guest OS Linux install.

I’ll assume you have installed VMWare Player and a VMWare Appliance similar to CentOS v5. After which, by default, the resolution will be limited to modes “800×600″ and “640×480″.

Here is how you fix that problem…

Step 1: Install X and GNOME, if not already present.
yum groupinstall "X Window System" "GNOME Desktop Environment"
[Note: to install KDE, substitute the “GNOME…” string with “KDE (K Desktop Environment)”]

Step 2: Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

You should already have…

Section "Device"
Identifier "Videocard0"
Driver "vmware"

Add the following “monitor” section…

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Monitor0"
HorizSync 1.0 - 10000.0
VertRefresh 1.0 - 10000.0

Modify the existing “Screen” section…
Note to replace the following “1600×1200″ string with the highest resolution your monitor can handle.

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Screen0"
Device "Videocard0"
Monitor "Monitor0"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Viewport 0 0
Depth 24
Modes "1600x1200" "800x600" "640x480"

Step 3: Start X

15 thoughts on “HowTo: Change VMWare Player Guest OS Display Resolution”

  1. Jst as a note…

    To install the vmware-tools pkg under Ubuntu 7.04

    sudo apt-get install build-essential

    sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

    Unpack vmware-tools pkg and sudo ./

    Run ‘/usr/bin/vmware-toolbox &’ to start the tools.

  2. I did something similar. Guest OS is RHEL 4, on Windows XP with WMWare Player. I used the RHEL config tools to change X resolution and it works, if I log as superuser. If I log with a different user, it seems that the resolution change fail and then the output video is scrambled … it looks like some permission problem but I cant’t find it. I tried adding the normal user to all defined grups (admin, root, tty, … ) but with no success …

  3. Great tip! Here are some more tips on this issue:
    I use centOS 5.4 guest. I already had GNOME and X11 installed.
    I couldnt fine “x11″ folder… but then realized that “X” in X11 is CAPITAL… it took me some time to figure that out….
    To edit the config file, I ran “gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf”
    I made the updates/changes to this file as you instructed, saved and exited gedit.
    I ran “startx” but it failed and told me that I’m already in a session so I had to delete a lock file which I did by running “rm /tmp/.X0-lock”
    I ran “startx” again, the screen flickered and I figured that the OS doesnt know whats going on… so I rebooted the VM. It came up with same rez as beofe 800×600 but now I was able to go into the resolution settings and select 1024×768… Perfect!
    Thank you so much.

  4. Is there no way to increase the window size of the player without installing X.
    I am fine working on the CLI just want a larger are to work in…

  5. @curtis
    If you use GRUB, just add vga=773 at the end of the kernel line, i.e.:

    kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/mapper/cryptpool-root cryptdevice=/dev/sda2:sda2crypt ro vga=773

  6. Thanks! This was driving me nuts. I hate to waste screen real estate.
    Worked using CentOS 5.6 on VMWare WS 7.1.4 using GNOME.

  7. I have a RHEL5 image running on my laptop (Win XP). The issue is – the image opens up in a 840×600 size (which is small). My laptop can support a max of 1280×800. I tried the above suggestion of editing the xorg.conf file, made the necessary changes (as root user) and restarted the image, but there is no change in the image size. The problem i am seeing is – even after changing the modes in teh xorg.conf file, the “SCREEN RESOLUTION” option in the RHEL “Preferences” setting does not show the new values that we have entered in the xorg.conf file. Unless, i see the new values, I cannot change the resolution.

    Please help me as I have spent close to a day without any success.


  8. Thanks it worked for me..

    Centos 6.2 64bit on vmware exsi 4 ( Vsphere 4.0)
    after making changes to xorg.conf
    no need to restart just log out and log in back and go to display settings and select your resolution

  9. Had the issue on a Oracle Linux Server 6.4 running in VMWare – your /etc/X11/xorg.conf configuration solved it.
    Thanks for the useful hint!

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