• Paul Kennard

How to use Workstation 16 to run containers with vctl

VMware Workstation Docker vctl

I recently updated my VMware Workstation to 16 Pro and noticed in the release notes a cool additional feature that included that I will quickly cover to get an ITBODs started.

Within Workstation 16 and added a new Command Line Tool (CTL) “vctl” and support for KIND that's supported on Windows 10 1809 or later and enables Workstation support for container images as started in the “What's New”.

VMware Workstation vctl Whats New


The new vctl tool allows you to build/run/pull/push Open Container Images (OCI) on your desktop and also provides support for kind.


Open Container Images is a Linux Foundation Project that designed industry standard container formats and runtimes.


KIND enables Workstation to use vctl container rather than Docker container as nodes and allows you to create and run local Kubernetes (K8S) clusters. It was designed primarily for testing K8S.

The 101 on Workstation 16 & vctl

Open Command Prompt or PowerShell and Navigate to your VMware Workstation path default is:

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware Workstation\

Start by running the command below to list the supported commands:

vctl commands

Now we need to start the Container Runtime with the following command:

vctl system start
vctl system start

Following vctl start you will see the container storage has been setup in the following location:

So lets deploy our first container to test it out. Start with the following command :

vctl pull hello-world

Followed by

vctl run hello-world
vctl pull hello-world and vctl run hello-world

The output from our first container suggested we should try something more ambitious like Ubuntu so lets pull Ubuntu with the following command:

vctl pull ubuntu

Followed by

vctl run -- name myContainerName -t -d ubuntu
vctl pull ubuntu

Note: The (-t) Allocates a terminal for the container & (-d) Runs the container in the background

You can use the following commands to show the running containers and details.

vctl ps


vctl describe itbod-ubuntu
vctl ps and vctl describe

To gain access to a shell prompt on this new VM use the following command:

vctl execvm --sh -c myContainerName
vctl execvm

Note: The (--sh) Opens shell to VM (-c) allows you to specify the name


When you have finished playing you can run the following command to cleanup and stop all running containers and runtime

vctl system stop -f c

Followed by

vctl system info

Which will check the runtime has stopped. Finally at this point you can safely remove the .vctl folder mentioned earlier which is where the vctl utility stores its data.

vctl system stop

So as you will see this really was a 101 the subject but one I plan to cover further, so for now I wish you all well and will just leave you with some handy links to feed you interest.



Cloud & Virtualization Blog by ITBOD - paul kennard