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Daniel Doubrovkine

aka dB., CTO at artsy.net, fun at playplay.io, NYC

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All VMWare VixCOM users eventually go through a moment of being puzzled with the behavior of VixCOM ReadVariable function used with VIX_GUEST_ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE (read this thread). This is supposed to return values for the guest OS environment variables. You can get the value for %TMP%, but not for %ProgramFiles%. It’s probably due to the fact that VMWareTools aren’t really creating a user environment after login, but who cares, that renders the function virtually useless.

Can we work around it?

We know how to pipe output, so we can just run set, collect and parse the results.

/// <summary>
/// Returns environment variables parsed from the output of a set command.
/// </summary>
/// <returns>Environment variables.</returns>
public Dictionary<string, string> GetEnvironmentVariables()
    Dictionary<string, string> environmentVariables = new Dictionary<string, string>();
    StringReader sr = new StringReader(RunCommandInGuest("set").StdOut);
    string line = null;
    while (! string.IsNullOrEmpty(line = sr.ReadLine()))
        string[] nameValuePair = line.Split("=".ToCharArray(), 2);
        if (nameValuePair.Length != 2)
            throw new Exception(string.Format("Invalid environment string: \"{0}\"", line));

        environmentVariables[nameValuePair[0]] = nameValuePair[1];
    return environmentVariables;

Implemented as Vestris.VMWareLib.Tools.Windows.Shell.GetEnvironmentVariables() in VMWareTasks. It’s a method rather than a property because it actually executes remote commands and environment variables change over time.

Dictionary<string, string> env = guestShell.GetEnvironmentVariables();

Problem solved.