VMware SVGA driver for Solaris

Solaris port of the XFree86 VMware SVGA driver. Works for Solaris 8 and 9 guests on VMware Workstation 3, 4 and 5. I have no reason to believe it doesn't work also on other VMware platforms (ESX, GSX, VMware Server, VMware Player, etc.).

NOTE: Solaris 10 is shipped with VMware SVGA driver included so you don't need information on this page.


XFree86 4.2.0: solaris-xf86-4.2.0-vmware.tar.gz (1,465,534 bytes, Feb. 19, 2004)
XFree86 solaris-xf86- (1,932,318 bytes, Feb. 19, 2004)

NOTE: These versions are getting obsolete. You can get more recent version (4.4.0) from Jürgen Keil's "Solaris XFree86 Video Drivers and Porting Kit" page (http://www.tools.de/solaris/xf86/). I'm distributing the older packages just for those who have no luck with his package.


  1. If you have already installed a different version of the XFree86 X server, uninstall it. Also remove or rename directory "/usr/X11R6" and any XFree86 configuration files "/etc/X11/XF86Config*".

  2. For Solaris 8, make sure that the patches 109401-08 (or later) and 108653-27 (or later / 108653-56 or later is recommended) are installed.
    For Solaris 9, the patch 112786-05 or later is necessary.
    The latest as of Sep. 5, 2006 are 109401-14, 119068-02 (obsoletes 108653) and 112786-43.
    You can get the latest patches from the SunSolve download site ( http://sunsolve.sun.com/).

  3. Make sure that gunzip program is available.
    You can get the program from the gzip Home site ( http://www.gzip.org/).
    If you use Jürgen's package, get bunzip2 instead (http://www.bzip.org/).

  4. Put the package into some convenient directory (e.g. /tmp) in the guest.


  1. Login as a superuser from the Command Line Login. (Choose "Command Line Login" from the "Option" menu in the GUI login screen.)
  2. Change to the directory where you have placed the package file.
    	# cd <directory path>
  3. Extract and install the packages using the following commands:
    	# gunzip solaris-xf86-<version>-vmware.tar.gz
    	# tar xf solaris-xf86-<version>-vmware.tar
    	# pkgadd -d `pwd` SUNWxf86u SUNWxf86r
    Note that quotes used in the last command are backquotes, not regular single quotes.

    If you use Jürgen's package, use the following commands insted:
    	# bunzip2 xf86-4.4.0-video.pkg.bz2
    	# pkgadd -d xf86-4.4.0-video.pkg SUNWxf86u SUNWxf86r
  4. NOTE: Solaris 9 9/04 (Update 7) and later use different X server system directory structure from former versions. You need to manually create the following link in order for the system to recognize the installed VMware driver:
    	# ln -s /usr/X11R6/etc/devdata/SUNWaccel/boards/xf86/vmware.xqa /usr/openwin/share/etc/devdata/xf86/boards/xf86/vmware.xqa


  1. Run kdmconfig as a superuser:
    	# kdmconfig
  2. On the "Introduction" screen, Press F2 to proceed.

  3. On the "View and Edit Window System Configuration" screen, select "Change Video Device/Monitor" and press F2.

  4. On the "Video Device Selection" screen, type "x" and XFree86 drivers with the prefix "XF86-" are displayed.

  5. Choose "XF86-VMWARE VMware SVGA virtual video cards" (likely to be shown at the very bottom of the list) and press F2 to continue.
    NOTE: If you have other XF86- drivers but no VMware driver in the list, see #4 in the Installation section above. If you have no XF86- drivers at all, probably you have failed to install the package.

  6. Choose any Monitor type and press F2 to continue.

  7. Choose any Screen Size and press F2 to continue.

  8. Choose a combination of Resolution/Colors/Refresh Rate and press F2.
    • The Resolution can be anything you like.
    • The Colors must match the host's display setting (see the NOTE below) or must be 256 colors.
    • The Refresh Rate doesn't matter at all.
    NOTE: When you use 16777216 colors in the guest, you should try both 24 bit and 32 bit color settings in the host (if available). You can't tell which will work for you until you try them yourself. If both fails, you should still be able to use 256 colors regardless of the host's setting. Also, it is advised to avoid 65536 (16 bit) colors because Solaris does not really support 16 bit colors and some Solaris applications do not work well in this color mode.

  9. Choose any Virtual Screen Resolution and press F2.

  10. Again on the "View and Edit Window System Configuration" screen, select "No changes needed" this time and press F2.

  11. Press F2 again and the test screen should be displayed.
    < If the screen is displayed correctly (congratulations!), click "Yes". The new setting will be saved and you will be back at the command prompt.
    Logoff and wait for several seconds for the colorful login screen to appear.
    If, unfortunately, the test screen is not displayed correctly, the most common cause is the mismatch of the color settings between the host and the guest. Try other combinations of host / guest color settings.

Technical Notes

The 4.2.0 package was developed from the Solaris XFree86 Video Drivers and Porting Kit (Source Edition) published by Sun Microsystems. This kit is essentially a Solaris port of XFree86 4.2.0 drivers, but unfortunately VMware SVGA driver is not included in the Binary Edition (precompiled version), although it is present in the Source Edition. I only modified a packaging script in the kit to create this package with only VMware SVGA driver.

The package was built from Jürgen Keil's work. He adapted Sun's Kit to XFree86, but again VMware SVGA driver was not included in his binary package. So with his approval I built a VMware-only package from his source.

Currently his XFree86 4.4.0 package, with VMware SVGA driver included, is available at his site.