This has been tested on Debian etch running on VMware ESX and VMware server 2.0 hosts.
Install kernel headers and some tools used to install VMware tools
apt-get install binutils cpp gcc make psmisc linux-headers-$(uname -r)
Mount the cdrom drive. Make sure you have mounted the VMware tools virtual cd from the host before moving on.
mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/
Extract VMware tools to the tmp directory:
tar -C /tmp -zxvf /mnt/VMwareTools-3.5.0-67921.tar.gz
The filename depends on the host software/OS. Here is a reference to a VMware ESX 3i VMware tools package.
Unmount the virtual cd
Make sure you run the following command from the Console, don’t try to run it using SSH because the network will be restarted and the installation will fail.
Accept the defaults for every question. Make sure you’re located inside the vmware-tools-distrib folder when executing the vmware-install.pl script or the installation will fail.
To finish the installation and start the virtual machine with VMware tools installed, reboot the virtual machine: