Device drivers optimize mouse operations and improve sound, graphics, and networking performance. If you do a custom VMware Tools installation or reinstallation, you can choose which drivers to install.

Which drivers are installed when you install VMware Tools also depends on the guest operating system and the VMware product. For detailed information about the features or functionality that these drivers enable, including configuration requirements, best practices, and performance, see the documentation for your VMware product. The following device drivers can be included with VMware Tools.

SVGA driver

This virtual driver enables 32-bit displays, high display resolution, and significantly faster graphics performance. When you install VMware Tools, a virtual SVGA driver replaces the default VGA driver, which allows for only 640 X 480 resolution and 16-color graphics.

On Windows guest operating systems whose operating system is Windows Vista or later, the VMware SVGA 3D (Microsoft - WDDM) driver is installed. This driver provides the same base functionality as the SVGA driver, and it adds Windows Aero support.

SCSI driver

A VMware Paravirtual SCSI driver is included for use with paravirtual SCSI devices. Drivers for other storage adapters are either bundled with the operating system, or they are available from third-party vendors.

For example, Windows Server 2008 defaults to LSI Logic SAS, which provides the best performance for that operating system. In this case, the LSI Logic SAS driver provided by the operating system is used.

Paravirtual SCSI driver

This driver for VMware Paravirtual SCSI adapters enhances the performance of some virtualized applications.

VMXNet NIC drivers

The vmxnet and vmxnet3 networking drivers improve network performance. Which driver is used depends on how you configure device settings for the virtual machine. Search the VMware Knowledge Base for information on which guest operating systems support these drivers.

When you install VMware Tools, a VMXNet NIC driver replaces the default vlance driver.

Mouse driver

The virtual mouse driver improves mouse performance. This driver is required if you use some third-party tools such as Microsoft Terminal Services.

Audio driver

This sound driver is required for all 64-bit Windows guest operating systems and 32-bit Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Vista guest operating systems.

Guest Introspection drivers

The two Guest Introspection drivers are the NSX File Introspection driver and the Network Introspection driver. The NSX File Introspection driver uses the hypervisor to perform antivirus scans without a bulky agent. This strategy avoids resource bottlenecks and optimizes memory use. The NSX Network Introspection driver supports NSX for vSphere Activity Monitoring. You can install the two drivers separately. When you install VMware Tools, by default, the Guest Introspection drivers are not installed.

Memory control driver

This driver is required for memory ballooning and is recommended if you use VMware vSphere. Excluding this driver hinders the memory management capabilities of the virtual machine in a vSphere deployment.

Modules and drivers that support making automatic backups of virtual machines

If the guest operating system is Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or other newer Windows operating systems, a Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) module is installed. For other, older Windows operating systems, the Filesystem Sync driver is installed. These modules allow external third-party backup software that is integrated with vSphere to create application-consistent snapshots. During the snapshotting process, certain processes are paused and virtual machine disks are quiesced.

VMCI and VMCI Sockets drivers

The Virtual Machine Communication Interface driver allows fast and efficient communication between virtual machines and the hosts they run on. Developers can write client-server applications to the VMCI Sock (vsock) interface to make use of the VMCI virtual device.

VMware drivers for Linux

The drivers for Linux are automatically installed during your operating system installation, eliminating the need to separately install drivers after OS installation. VMware actively maintains the source code for VMware paravirtual drivers and kernel modules, and any Linux distributions creating new OS releases will automatically include the latest VMware drivers.

VMware does not recommend deleting or replacing existing inbox drivers for Linux that are distributed by your OS vendors. Deleting or replacing these drivers could cause conflict with future updates to the drivers. Contact your OS vendor or OS community for availability of specific updates to drivers.

See http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2073804 for information about availability, maintenance, and support policy for inbox drivers for Linux.