After much dithering (research/hacking and workarrounds) I called support and finally got an answer. VMware 15.1 requires libncurses5 and opensuse 15.1 installs libncurses6. I was told by support that the answer was in the release notes and it is for ubuntu and red hat there is no indication that the problem is generic. If you install libncurses5, the problem is resolved. VMware finds the installed tools and does not prompt for download. Vmware workstation 15.1 release note clip below.
On hosts running Ubuntu 19.04 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, the Install/Reinstall VMware Tools menu fails to open.
When you attempt to open the Install/Reinstall VMware Tools menu on Ubuntu 19.04 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, the following error is displayed:
Could not find component on update server. Contact VMware Support or your system administrator.
Workaround: Manually install the required ncurses libraries on your host machine.
For Ubuntu 19.04, install the libncursesw5 package.
For Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, install the ncurses-compat-libs-6.1-7.20180224.el8.x86_64.rpm package.
I ask the technician to change the entry to provide a better description. He said he would test it and get back to me later. Any clean install of OpenSUSE 15.1 with a new install of VMware workstation pro 15.1 will be prompted to download vmware tools that are already installed on the host until libncurses5 is installed.
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