Migrating OS X VMs to a VMware ESXi server
I’ve started using ESXi servers more and more for hosting my test Macs, both here and at work. As part of that, I’ve found it to be considerably easier for me to build the VM inside of VMware Fusion on my Mac and move it to ESXi, then build it from scratch on my ESXi server.
That said, I’ve found the process for moving OS X VMs has not been straightforward. When I first tried moving 10.8.x VMs, I tried both VMware’s OVF Tool and VMware’s Standalone Converter, but neither initially appeared to provide me with the ability to transfer working OS X 10.8.x VMs.
In the end, I was able to find a way to use VMware’s Standalone Converter to transfer 10.8.x VMs, but the process involves some extra steps on the ESXi server’s end.
The process I’ve developed involves using a Windows 7 VM running inside of VMware Fusion, with the VMware Standalone Converter application installed. One thing to note before proceeding further is that I did not try this with a vSphere server. All my work has been done with VMware’s free ESXi server, so it may be that there’s an easier way to do this with vSphere. See below the jump for details.
1. Launch Standalone Converter and select Convert Machine.
2. For Select source type: , select VMware Workstation or other VMware virtual machine then hit the Browse button.
3. Locate the .vmx file stored inside your VMware Fusion VM and select it.
4. Once the .vmx file is selected, hit the Open button.
5. Verify that everything looks OK at the Source System window, then hit the Next button.
6. For Select destination type:, select VMware Infrastructure virtual machine. Once done, supply the login credentials for the ESXi server that you want to copy the VM to and hit the Next button when finished.
7. If the ESXi server is using a self-signed SSL certificate, a warning will appear. Click the Ignore button to continue.
8. In the Destination Virtual Machine window, a listing of the current VMs on the ESXi server should appear. Name the VM that’s being imported as desired and hit the Next button.
9. In the Destination Location window, select the datastore on the ESXi server that the VM will be imported to and hit the Next button.
10. In the Options window, leave the default settings alone and hit the Next button.
11. In the Summary window, hit the Finish button.
Once all the conversion choices have been made, the VM will then be uploaded to the ESXi server. It’s important to know that the OS X VM will upload in an unbootable state.
At this point, you will need the VMware vSphere Client application to do the rest of the work on the ESXi server.
13. Launch VMware vSphere Client and log into the ESXi server.
14. If the ESXi server is using a self-signed SSL certificate, a warning will appear. Click the Ignore button to continue.
15. The ESXi administration console should appear, with the uploaded VM appearing as a powered-off VM.
16. Select File: New: Virtual Machine… to create a new VM.
17. In the Configuration window, select Custom. This option is needed because we want to re-use a part of the uploaded VM.
18. In the Name and Location window, name the new VM as desired. To avoid problems, name the VM something different from the uploaded VM.
19. In the Storage window, select the datastore where you want to store the new VM.
20. In the Virtual Machine Version window, use the default option of Virtual Machine Version: 8.
21. In the Guest Operating System window, select the following options:
Guest Operating System: Other
Version: Apple Mac OS X 10.7 (64-bit)
22. In the CPUs window, select the desired number of cores.
23. In the Memory window, select the desired memory configuration.
24. In the Network window, select the desired number of network cards.
25. In the SCSI Controller window, leave it at the default selected SCSI controller.
26. In the Select a Disk window, choose the Use an existing virtual disk option.
27. Select the datastore where you had previously uploaded the OS X VM to from the Standalone Converter application and hit the Open button.
28. Select the folder that corresponds to the name of the uploaded OS X VM and hit the Open button.
29. Select the .vmdk file inside the uploaded VM and hit the OK button.
30. Verify that the correct path is showing in the Disk File Path line and hit the Next button.
31. In the Advanced Options window, leave the settings at the default configuration.
32. In the Ready to Complete window, verify everything looks OK and hit the Finish button.
The new VM should now listed. At this point, the uploaded VM can now be removed.
33. Select the uploaded VM and select Remove under the Edit menu.
34. When asked to confirm the removal, hit the Yes button.
With the uploaded VM removed, the new VM can be booted to verify that it is working correctly.