I have been experimenting with ESXi and have the following setup on my desk:

Dell Laptop:

  • T2500 2GHz, 4Gb RAM
  • boots ESXi off USB flash drive,
  • has 320Gb 7200rpm internal SATA as the datastore (purchased new for this experiment)
  • single W2k3 guest OS installed on a 15Gb virtual disk and 60% is free at the moment.

(and yes, ESXi seems to be running happily on this hardware)


  • 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo, 3Gb RAM
  • Leopard 10.5.8
  • VMware Fusion (2.0.6) running as a window in OS X, not as full screen.
  • Windows XP SP3 running as a VM under VMware Fusion. (512Mb for this VM)

I am running the VMware VIC client under XP on the iMac, and the iMac and the laptop are connected by a gigabit Ethernet hub.

The problem

The problem is when I start up the VIC and open the console to the running ESXi VM image. Prior to opening the console everything seems fine - I can poke around XP and the VIC contents and do anything I want.

Once I open the ESXi VM console and click on anything inside of it the mouse starts behaving in a funny way. I can mouse over the OS X part of my system, but as soon as I mouse back over the XP VM, the mouse pointer has an affinity to the guest OS in the ESXi console in the VIC. In addition the mouse acceleration within the console also has a strange profile - but that simply might be the W2k3 setup

I cannot do anything in the XP VM except interact with the W2k3 VM in the ESXi console until I tell VMware Fusion to send a Ctrl-Alt-Del to the XP VM. This causes the ESXi VM to throw up the standard W2k3 response to a Ctrl-Alt-Del and seems to break the affinity between the mouse pointer and the ESXi console (also VMware Fusion throws up a warning dialog box about how I should be sending Ctrl-Alt-Del). Now I can mouse around the XP VM and do what I want. But as soon as I click into the ESXi console then the cycle starts all over again.

Can anyone explain this behavior or better still suggest ways to improve things?

2 Answers 2


Sounds exactly like what I'd expect if you didn't have VMware Tools installed in the Guest. Having the Mouse become locked into th Guest console is the classic symptom of nat having VMware tools [fully] installed, sub-optimal video, network and possibly disk performance are the others.

However the multiple levels of redirection involved here might also be causing problems. I've happily run the VI Client in a VM running under VMware Workstation on top of Vista on my laptop controlling Windows VM's running on an ESXi instance on another laptop - both Dell D630's so they're not too far removed from the spec you outline above. It works reasonably well for the purposes of testing and I don't see the issue you describe, but then all the user interfaces in my stack are running Windows.

  • That was it. I am so used to VMware Workstation and Fusion automatically loading the tools or prompting to load them that I didn't even think about it ... and obviously never read all of the guest OS installation instructions. Works like a charm now .. evern with all the indirection!
    – Peter M
    Oct 21, 2009 at 23:24
  • I forgot to say that now I am up and running I can ditch the indirection by auto starting the ESXi VM and using a RDP client from OS X
    – Peter M
    Oct 22, 2009 at 0:00

This often happens with people using Linux VMs in console mode or not using VMware Tools in their VI virtual machine. Using Ctrl-alt will ungrab you from the VIC console window in the Windows VM but leave your mouse grabbed by the Windows VM. Using Cmd-alt will ungrab you from the Fusion run Windows VM and return control back the MacOS host.

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