Downgrading VMware Tools for ESXi VMs

On a freshly built environment (a FlexPod) running vSphere 5.5 Update 1, I ran into an issue with Citrix XenDesktop 7.1. Provisioning desktops using MCS worked fine for machine catalogs without Personal vDisk (PvD), but not for PvD catalogs. Once the VMs were built, they would start, but VMware Tools would crash, the machines wouldn’t get an IP address, and logging into the console produced a black screen and high CPU usage until the VM was shut down.

Working with Citrix Support, I determined that the PvD disk was corrupted. According to Citrix, this usually happens because of an improper PvD inventory update on the gold image. Regardless of the actual cause, Citrix gave me two options: (1) Build a new gold image, or (2) downgrade VMware Tools from 5.5 Update 1 to 5.5. While another team member started the new gold-image build process, I continued with the VMware Tools downgrade.

It took a bit of digging, but I found that VMware has good support for older versions of VMware Tools. See the KB article here:

They maintain a repository of older versions of VMware tools going way, way back in time. The downgrade was as simple as pulling down the VMware Tools for ESXi 5.5 GA (about 77 MB), then mounting the CD on the VM, and installing Tools. The only difference is that the launch process isn’t the usual VM > Guest > Install/Upgrade VMware Tools, but rather just mounting and running the Tools installer from the .ISO image like any other piece of software.

In case you’re wondering: The VMware Tools downgrade solved the original problem with PvD provisioning.

About virtualrush

CCIE #15025, VCP5, many certifications in Cisco, VMware, NetApp, Citrix, and others. I work for a midsize technology integrator.
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2 Responses to Downgrading VMware Tools for ESXi VMs

  1. Jordi Pavon says:

    Thank you very much for share the link to the vmware tools repository. I ran the same issue with Xendesktop 5.6 FP1 and VMware 5.5 update 1. I hope the vmware tools downgrade solve the issue.

  2. Julian Botero says:

    I had this same issue and found it was related to enabling vShield Driver in VMware Tools version 9349 and above. Non PvD Catalogs worked fine with that Gold Image but if i created a PvD catalog using that image, it would just hang. Also found an article ( that said to install a MS Hotfix ( but didn’t seem to resolve the issue. Downgrading to version 9344 of VMware Tools did work even with vShield Drivers installed. I did have to go in an reset the PvD after the update however.

    This is a workaround in my opinion and i opened a case with Citrix to get it fixed. They stated they are reproducing it now and will submit as a bug to be fixed. For now just downgrade to version 9344 of VMware Tools or disable vShield Driver.

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