ESXi5 OVF import not working with monolithicSparse

It seems that OVF import only supports the stream format and not monolithicSparse,

could someone confrm that?

I ask as we are trying to give a hand-crafted OVF to ESXi for import. We use qemu-img

to create the vmdk and monolithicSparse is all qemu can create. ESXi complains that

" Not a supported disk format (sparse VMDK version too old)"

One option is maybe is to use vmkfstools <your sparse.vmdk>  <new.vmdk> to do

the conversion, but here is the kicker - we have to do this conversion on an old linux

build server with no root access to install nice new tools and we would need to ssh out

to our ESXi box to do the conversion, which we want to avoid as we have thousands of

potential users building this thing...

If we could install vmkfstools with non root access, that might be an option. Or we go

off and try to extend qemu-img as a last resort.

Open to any and all ideas here as we're stumped with lack of ability to create something

that will pass OVF format checks.


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3 Replies

Did you make any progress regarding this?

We are having the exact same problem at the moment...

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Really the plan is still (at some point) to write extensions for qemu to do this which

would have the benefit of qemu being able to support a wider variety of vmdk disk


I don't see any other option (other than vmware fixing this!)

Quite why vsphere/esxi has this restriction is beyond me - it plainly supports the

monolithic types, just on import it wants to be fussy

If you want to mail me to discuss more: n m c g i l l@cisco.com



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Try cloning the vmdk.  I had to clone the disk to a current vmdk version before esxi5.1 would recognize it and boot properly.   See KB 1028042

To convert a virtual machine disk from one type to another:

  1. Shut down the virtual machine. Virtual machine disk files are locked while in-use by a running virtual machine.
  2. Log into the VMware vSphere Management Assistant (vMA). Alternatively, open a command-line interface after deploying the VMware vSphere CLI (vCLI). If terminal access is required:
  3. Run the following vmkfstools command to clone the disk from one format to another:

    vMA/vCLI: vmkfstools --server <vCenter or ESX IP/Hostname> -i <input> <output> -d <format>
    ESX/ESXi Terminal: vmkfstools -i <input> <output> -d <format>

    For example, to clone a disk from one datastore to another and thin-provision the destination copy:

    vMA/vCLI: vmkfstools --server -i '[Datastore] examplevm/examplevm.vmdk' '[Datastore 2] newexamplevm/newexamplevm.vmdk' -d thin
    ESX/ESXi Terminal: vmkfstools -i "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/examplevm/examplevm.vmdk" "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore 2/newexamplevm/newexamplevm.vmdk" -d thin

    Warning: If virtual machine snapshots or delta disks are present, ensure that the source chosen is the snapshot delta disk. Failing to do so will result in an outdated destination copy.  However, when using the command, the corresponding descriptor file for the latest delta disk needs to be used when cloning the disk.

    For example, to clone and/or convert a snapshotted virtual machine disk (otherwise known as a delta disk) and like above, from one datastore to another, with a thin-provisioned destination copy:

    vMA/vCLI: vmkfstools --server -i '[Datastore] examplevm/examplevm-000001.vmdk' '[Datastore 2] newexamplevm/newexamplevm.vmdk' -d thin
    ESX/ESXi Terminal: vmkfstools -i "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/examplevm/examplevm-000001.vmdk" "/vmfs/volumes/Datastore 2/newexamplevm/newexamplevm.vmdk" -d thin

    Note the selection of examplevm-000001.vmdk, as opposed to examplevm.vmdk for the input file. Snapshot delta disk files are appended a sequencing number, differentiating one snapshot delta disk iteration or level from another. Selecting the most recent delta disk will ensure that the most recently stored data is cloned to the destination.
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