I have the same error and believe the issue is with the template's drive layout. I have an earlier template with only the system disk layout which I can deploy sucessfully through the UI. Same OS on both templates but the problem template has two attached Virtual disks while the successful template only has the system Virtual disk. I am going to experiment a bit but I suspect the solution is not very elegant as my server layout will require hand adding the second disk.
I'm curious about your disk layout if it is a similar situation?
Uhhh... 4 years later, anybody has an answer to this?
In my case it's ubuntu 11.10, ESX 5.0, latest VMTools. LVM vs. non-LVM makes no difference, still same (very "explicit") error.
There is a GuestOS type check that the customization process uses. Look at http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=5195811 (KB 5195811).
Usually the fix is to change the VM GuestOS to another value (same OS different version number), run the customization and revert it.
There's some more depreciated OS versions in vSphere 5: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?cmd=displayKC&docType=kc&externalId=2005981&sliceId=1&docTypeID=DT_KB_1_1&dialogID=234621147&stateId=0%200%20234623224
Customization Support Matrix: http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/compatibility-guide/guest-os-customization-metrics.pdf
This work around may still work, but remain unsupported if you switch to a similar version. No guarantees until tested of course.
Thanks stumpr, these are some great pointers! I'll see if I can do the version swap programatically, that does not seem possible for ubuntu, the only options being Ubuntu Linux (32-bit) and Ubuntu Linux (64-bit). The compatibility list shows Ubuntu 10.04 as supported, 11.10 as not supported. Yikes
I haven't tried it for Ubuntu, but you could try setting it to RHEL3. If you're just doing IP customization may work.