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You might want to copy and paste in Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections, for example, when working via RDP connection on a remote Windows machine. You can freely copy when working with documents through the clipboard, from and to your physical management workstation or laptop back and forth to the remote system.
Within the VMware infrastructure, this is not possible—at least not at first sight. VMware has a "best practice" in place that gives you the most protection against malicious use.
Even if you try to copy and paste, it simply doesn't work. This advanced option is not active, and VMware says this is to prevent exposing sensitive data copied to the clipboard. However, when you don't want this security setting, for let's say, a lab environment, you have the possibility to override this.
You can change this via some advanced options we will show you today. You can configure these advanced options at the VM level or at the host level. In this way, when you're working inside a VM and want to copy from a spreadsheet or text file, you won't be limited, and your copy/paste will work correctly.
As stated above, this advanced setting can occur at two levels:
- For an individual VM(s)
- For a whole ESXi host
Let's take a look and see how to do this for a single VM first.
Enable clipboard copy and paste for a single VM
You'll need to log in to vCenter (or an ESXi host) using the vSphere Web Client and shut down the VM.
Then select the VM, click the Summary tab, and go to Edit Settings > VM Options > Advanced > Edit Configuration > Add Configuration Params. This will add a new row. Next, type these values in the Name and Value columns:
Validate and then repeat and click Add Configuration Params once more to add this one as well:
Click OK to close the Configuration Parameters dialog, and click OK again to close the Virtual Machine Properties dialog.
Start the VM, and you should now be able to use your clipboard.
Note: If you perform vMotion of a VM to a host where the isolation.tools.*="FALSE" parameter is already configured, it will automatically activate the copy and paste options for that VM. This means the host level overrides the VM-level options.
Enable copy and paste for all VMs
You'll need to use a Secure Shell (SSH) client for this, and you'll have to enable SSH on the host. A free SSH client for Windows called PuTTY is well known. There are plenty of others, and you can also install one as an extension in your web browser.
Then simply log in to the ESX/ESXi host as a root user.
Open the /etc/vmware/config file using the vi editor. Navigate first to the right directory (cd /etc/vmware), then type "i" to switch to insert mode, and then enter this command:
Note: You should make a backup of the /etc/vmware/config file. You can do this with the command below after you go into the /etc/vmware folder:
cp config config_old
This saves the original file as "config_old."
Once you have the backup of the original file, you can add these entries to the file:
vmx.fullpath = "/bin/vmx"isolation.tools.copy.disable="FALSE"isolation.tools.paste.disable="FALSE"
Save and close the file. We're done.
For the ESXi setting, you'll need to reboot the ESXi host for the values to take effect.
I hope that you've enjoyed this little tweak and that it will help you to stretch your knowledge further about VMware virtual infrastructure technology.
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VMware has many advanced settings, and they always make sure to apply the best and most secure options. However, for the sake of simplicity or lab testing, you may want to know how to overcome these limitations.