Ultimate Deployment Appliance

I’m excitied to begin automating vSphere (ESX) server installations. I now have four servers, ready to install vSphere for our VMWare View environment. I could easily just bang them out one at a time with a USB DVD drive and KVM – but where is the fun in that?

I’m going to use a community built deployment appliance running in VMware workstation to PXE boot and install vSphere on these four servers.

First problem I had was actually getting the appliance file. It seems the original source of the appliance has a horrible network connection or is just really busy – 15b/sec isn’t going to cut it. So I went to Mike Laverick’s RTFM Education site. http://www.rtfm-ed.co.uk/vmware-content/ultimate-da/

Mike posted an OVA file – which can be installed into vSphere, but I need it to run on Workstation on an isolated network during deployment. Workstation would normally be able to import this OVA, but it’s missing some descriptor file.

Never giving up, I found another VMware utility called OVF Tools that you can download here: http://www.vmware.com/support/developer/ovf/

After installing, you get to run this command to convert the OVA file to a vmx/vmdk virtual machine:

C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool\ovftool.exe path_to_ova/uda20-build##.ova path_to_vmx/uda20-build##.vmx

For my example, I just placed the converted VM into the same path:

C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool\ovftool.exe d:/uda20/uda20-build17.ova d:/uda20/uda20-build17.vmx

Really it’s that simple. A few seconds later, you have yourself a vmx file that you can open and run in VMware Workstation.

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