Importing VMWare Fusion VMs on ESXi 6.5

Mar 21, 2020 | 2 minutes read

Tags: Howto

I use a MacBook Pro for work, and naturally my job involves a good amount of VM usage. VMWare Fusion is supposed to have good integration with ESXi, allowing you to connect to servers, manage VMs remotely, and transfer them to/from them. I find that the remote management works pretty well, and downloading VMs works most of the time, but I couldn’t get uploading them to our ESXi 6.5 host to work; I would always get cryptic errors like Invalid configuration for device '0'. Even exporting the VM to an OVA file and importing it on the web interface wouldn’t work. One ticket with VMWare Support later and I finally have the correct import procedure:

  1. Remove unnecessary devices from the VM such as Bluetooth controllers and printers. You may also have to remove the network adapter and re-add it after import depending on the ESXi host’s settings.
  2. In the VM settings, under Compatibility, change the Hardware Version to 12; while Version 13 claims to support ESXi 6.5, VMWare support directed me to use 12 instead, and it didn’t work until I did.
  3. Export the VM as an OVF.
  4. Open the exported folder and find the .ovf file. It’s an XML file that describes the VM. Open it in your favorite text editor and change the videoRamSizeInKB entry to 128MB (131072).
  5. Upload the modified OVF folder to your ESXi host.

After that, your VM should be ready to use.