Vagrant/VMware: Resolving “Waiting for HGFS kernel module” Timeouts


After you upgrade your VMware-based Vagrant box’s kernel, you’ll experience a timeout error on reboot during “Waiting for HGFS kernel module to load…”. You can fix this by enabling VMware Tools’s built-in “automatic kernel modules” feature via:

echo "answer AUTO_KMODS_ENABLED yes" | sudo tee -a /etc/vmware-tools/locations

Problem Description

The HGFS (or Host-Guest File System) driver is a VMware extension that provides the shared folder support for your VMware VM. Vagrant in-turn uses this feature to provide its default shared folder implementation when using the VMware provider.

When you upgrade your Linux OS’s kernel and reboot, the new kernel does not have this HGFS driver available and Vagrant will timeout waiting for this driver to load when trying to setup the shared folders. The error looks like this:

$ time vagrant reload
==> default: Machine booted and ready!
==> default: Waiting for HGFS kernel module to load...
The HGFS kernel module was not found on the running virtual machine.
This must be installed for shared folders to work properly. Please
install the VMware tools within the guest and try again. Note that
the VMware tools installation will succeed even if HGFS fails
to properly install. Carefully read the output of the VMware tools
installation to verify the HGFS kernel modules were installed properly.

real    4m43.252s
user    0m8.948s
sys     0m1.400s

There are several potential solutions here:

  1. Never upgrade your Linux kernel. Heh.
  2. Disable Vagrant’s default shared folder via your “Vagrantfile”:
    config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", disabled: true
  3. Use one of the alternative shared folder implementations like NFS or rsync. These in-turn have their own draw-backs.
  4. Enable VMware Tools’s “automatic kernel modules” feature to have missing kernel modules automatically built upon boot. Details below.

Solution – Enabling VMware Tools’s Automatic Kernel Modules Feature

You can either run “sudo” and answer “yes” to the following question:

VMware automatic kernel modules enables automatic building and installation of
VMware kernel modules at boot that are not already present. This feature can be
enabled/disabled by re-running

Would you like to enable VMware automatic kernel modules?

… or you can cause the same side-effect that answering “yes” to that question will cause, by appending a line into a system file:

echo "answer AUTO_KMODS_ENABLED yes" | sudo tee -a /etc/vmware-tools/locations

More details are available in:

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