I found that this is the easiest way to go about installing VMware on Ubuntu 8.10 (and no, I still haven’t upgraded to Jaunty)
Go to the VMware download page, and grab the bundle. You have the choice to download the rpm, but trust me on this one; the bundle is what you want.
Once the download is complete, make the file executable:
sudo chmod 655 VMware-Player-2.5.2-156735.i386.bundle (or whichever version you downloaded)
Then run it as root:
sudo sh VMware-Player-2.5.2-156735.i386.bundle
Surprise! We’re treated to a nice graphical installer. Follow the prompts (there are few), and let the installer complete. Once it’s done, you should find VMware Player under Applications > System Tools > VMware Player. Go ahead and launch it and accept the EULA. Then browse to your VM images and you’re done.