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I have multiple machine's setup in VMware Fusion. Some of them are only servers (like Ubuntu), which I want to run without seeing the VMware Fusion icons or any screens. A little like what VMware Server does.

Does anybody have a solution?

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If you don't want to see the icon try the procdure reported here apple.stackexchange.com/questions/68915/…. For the screen you can minimize it probably. Of course it's not exactly what you want. –  Maverik Oct 19 '12 at 14:23
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I'm not sure how to do this with Fusion, but the free VirtualBox is capable of doing that using it's command-line tools and more than sufficient for running headless Linux servers. –  Gerry Oct 19 '12 at 14:58

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It appears you can start Fusion headless by executing the following:

/Applications/VMware\ Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmrun -T fusion start ~/Documents/Virtual\ Machines.localized/[IMAGENAME].vmwarevm/[IMAGENAME].vmx nogui

You could also add /Applications/VMware Fusion.app/Contents/Library to your $PATH or create an alias to have easier access to the vmrun command.

You can find more info on the vmrun command in this PDF. While a bit out-dated, it should still contain relevant information on how to start and stop your server.

If you are interested in running headless Linux servers for your development environment etc, I can also highly recommend to use VirtualBox instead. It is free, has extensive command-line support, and while running headless VMs Fusion loses most if its advantages (seamless GUI integration) over VirtualBox anyway. What's more, tools like Vagrant can even facilitate running these environments to a much greater extent. With the addition of a paid add-on ("provider"), Vagrant can control VMWare as well as VirtualBox for you3.

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An additional way, you can start up the VMs you want and then force quit VMware Fusion using Command+Option+Shift+Esc

The GUI quits but the VMs run in the background. To manage these VMs you can start VMware fusion again as usual and it will show you what's currently running.

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The best I can figure without hacking into the Dock is to set VMWare fusion to launch at boot and hide itself. The OS is designed to show apps that call for a graphical interface, so it's really up to VMWare to program their app to run as a background daemon if you don't want to work around this OS feature.

You could also explore placing that app under Mission Control and putting it on a secondary virtual display so you don't see it unless you need to observe a guest OS.

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