Sometimes it can be useful to get access to the contents of a VMWare vmdk disk image without starting up the virtual machine. For example, getting some files on a archived VM, or from a backup.

On Debian/Ubuntu, you need the package libguestfs-tools installed.

To see what filesystems are in the .vmdk use virt-filesystems like this:

foo@bar:~$ virt-filesystems -a vm_0-flat.vmdk

To mount the filesystem use guestmount like this:

foo@bar:~$ guestmount -a vm_0.flat.vmdk -m /dev/vm-vg/root --ro /mnt