[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
VMware

VMware Workstation 3.2

Features | Documentation | Knowledge Base | Discussion Forums

previous Prev   Contents   Last   Next next

Using USB Devices in a Virtual Machine

Using USB Devices in a Virtual Machine

The following sections describe how to use USB devices in a virtual machine:

You can use up to two USB devices in your virtual machine if both your host operating system and your guest operating system support USB. Note, for example, that Windows NT and Linux kernels older than 2.2.17 do not support USB.

Although your host operating system must support USB, you do not need to install drivers for your USB devices in the host operating system if you want to use those devices only in the virtual machine.

To take advantage of the USB support, you must create your virtual machine using the New Virtual Machine Wizard (on Windows hosts) or Configuration Wizard (on Linux hosts) in VMware Workstation.

Notes on USB Support in Version 3.2

Notes on USB Support in Version 3.2

We have tested a variety of USB devices with this release. In general, if the guest operating system has appropriate drivers, you should be able to use PDAs, printers, storage (disk) devices, scanners, MP3 players, digital cameras and memory card readers.

Modems and certain streaming data devices, such as speakers and Web cams, do not work properly.

Enabling and Disabling the USB Controller

Enabling and Disabling the USB Controller

The virtual machine's USB ports are enabled by default. If you will not be using USB devices in a virtual machine, you can disable its USB controller using the Configuration Editor.

Connecting USB Devices

Connecting USB Devices

When a virtual machine is running, its window is the active window and a USB device is plugged into the host computer, the device automatically connects to the guest instead of the host. This autoconnect feature can be disabled in the USB Controller panel of the Configuration Editor (Settings > Configuration Editor). If all of the virtual machine's USB ports are already occupied when it is trying to connect automatically to a new device, a dialog box gives you a choice: you can either disconnect one of the existing USB devices to free its port or ignore the new device, allowing the device to connect to the host.

Use the Devices menu to connect specific USB devices to your virtual machine. You can connect up to two USB devices at a time. If the physical USB devices are connected to the host computer through a hub, the virtual machine sees only the USB devices, not the hub.

There is a menu item for each of the USB ports. Move the mouse over one of these items to see a cascading menu of devices that are plugged into your host computer and available for use. To connect a device to the virtual machine, click its name.

If a device is already connected to that port, clicking the name of a new device releases the first device, then connects the new one.

To release a connected device, click None on the cascading menu for the port to which it is connected.

If you physically plug a new device into the host computer and the autoconnect feature does not connect it to a virtual machine, the device is initially connected to the host. Its name is also added to the Devices menu so you can connect it to the virtual machine manually.

Using USB with a Windows Host

Using USB with a Windows Host

On Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows .NET Server hosts, when a particular USB device is connected to a virtual machine for the first time, the host detects it as a new device named VMware USB Device and installs the appropriate VMware driver. On a Windows XP or Windows .NET Server host, user confirmation is required in the Found New Hardware Wizard. Select the default action - Install the software automatically. Once this step completes, the guest operating system detects the USB device and searches for a suitable driver.

When you are synchronizing a PDA such as a Palm handheld or Handspring Visor to a virtual machine for the first time, the total time required to load the VMware USB device driver in the host and the PDA driver in the guest may exceed the device's connection timeout value. This causes the device to disconnect itself from the computer before the guest can synchronize with it. If this occurs, let the guest finish installing the PDA driver, dismiss any connection error warnings, then try synchronizing the PDA again. The second attempt should succeed.

Using USB with a Linux Host

Using USB with a Linux Host

On Linux hosts, VMware Workstation uses the USB device file system to connect to USB devices. In most Linux systems that support USB, the USB device file system is at
/proc/bus/usb. If your host operating system uses a different path to the USB device file system, you can change it in the Configuration Editor (Settings > Configuration Editor > USB). Enter the correct path in the field labeled Path to usbdevfs.

Who Has Control Over a USB Device?

Who Has Control Over a USB Device?

Only one computer - host or guest - can have control of a USB device at any one time.

Device Control on a Windows Host

Device Control on a Windows Host

When you connect a device to a virtual machine, it is "unplugged" from the host or from the virtual machine that previously had control of the device. When you disconnect a device from a virtual machine, it is "plugged in" to the host.

Note: On Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows .NET Server hosts, when you connect a USB network or storage device in a virtual machine, you may see a message on your host that says the device can be removed safely. This is normal behavior, and you can simply dismiss the dialog box. However, do not remove the device from your physical computer. VMware Workstation automatically transfers control of the device to the virtual machine.

Under some circumstances, if a USB storage device is in use on the host (for example, one or more files stored on the device are open on the host), an error appears in the virtual machine when you try to connect to the device. You must let the host complete its operation or close any application connected to the device on the host, then connect to the device in the virtual machine again.

Device Control on a Linux Host

Device Control on a Linux Host

On Linux hosts, guest operating systems can use devices that are not already in use by the host - that is, claimed by a host operating system driver.

If your device is in use by the host and you try to connect it to the guest using the Devices menu, a dialog box appears, informing you that there is a problem connecting to the device.

To disconnect the device from the host, you must unload the device driver. You can unload the driver manually as root (su) using the rmmod command. Or, if the driver was automatically loaded by hotplug, you can disable it in the hotplug configuration files in the /etc/hotplug directory. See your Linux distribution's documentation for details on editing these configuration files.

A related issue sometimes affects devices that rely on automatic connection (as PDAs often do).

If you have successfully used autoconnection to connect the device to your virtual machine, then experience problems with the connection to the device, take the following steps:

  1. Disconnect and reconnect the device. You can either unplug it physically, then plug it back in or use the Devices menu to disconnect it and reconnect it.

  2. If you see a dialog box warning that the device is in use, disable it in the hotplug configuration files in the /etc/hotplug directory.

Disconnecting USB Devices from a Virtual Machine

Disconnecting USB Devices from a Virtual Machine

Before unplugging a USB device or using the Devices menu to disconnect it from a virtual machine, be sure it is in a safe state.

You should follow the procedures the device manufacturer specifies for unplugging the device from a physical computer. This is true whether you are physically unplugging it, moving it from host to virtual machine, moving it between virtual machines or moving it from virtual machine to host.

This is particularly important with data storage devices (a Zip drive, for example). If you move a data storage device too soon after saving a file and the operating system has not actually written the data to the disk, you can lose data.

Human Interface Devices

Human Interface Devices

USB human interface devices, such as the keyboard and mouse, are not handled though the virtual machine's USB controller. Instead, they appear in the virtual machine as a standard PS/2 keyboard and mouse, even though they are plugged into USB ports on the host.

previous Prev   Contents   Last   Next next