Deploying the VMware vCenter Virtual Appliance on OSX

For those who want to leverage VMware vCenter for your lab, but you are running on Mac OSX with VMware Fusion, there are a couple of quick steps to get you working. The secondary title to this article could really be “How to deploy an OVF template on VMware Fusion”, but the specific goal I’m after is my vCenter appliance today.

I am assuming that you are already comfortable with VMware Fusion, and with administering your lab environment so this is really more of a quick walkthrough just to deploy the virtual appliance using command line tools.

The virtual appliance is available as an OVF file. I’ve used it for my production deployment, but for this case I want to use the same OVF package to deploy into my nifty little lab that I pack inside my Macbook. Here is the challenge: there is no native way to import or deploy the OVF template using VMware Fusion.

Luckily we have the OVFTool available which lets us use the same files we have by converting the OVF file into a VMX to be used by VMware Fusion. The OVFTool details and documentation are found here:

First, you need to download the VMware vCenter virtual appliance files from the VMware download site. There are 3 files which will include the System disk, the Data disk and the OVF file which is what you would normally use to deploy into your ESX host using the Virtual Infrastructure Client.

The vCenter Server Appliance download can be found here:

Secondly, you need to download and install the OVFtool package for OSX. The file for OSX is a tar.gz file which contains a PKG file. You will find that tar file here:

Once you unzip the file into a folder and run the PKG file to install the product it will place the contents in the /Applications/VMware OVF Tool/ folder.

Open a Terminal window. Change directory to the location of the OVF tool (note that it will show as cd /Applications/VMware OVF Tool/ because of the spaces in the path).

Next you run the ovftool using the the command line of ovftool source destination which in this case I’ve stored the source file under my Downloads folder in a vCenter subfolder.

The tool will work its magic for a while and when it is done it will have crafted a ready to use VMX file and VMDK file set which you can now open with your VMware Fusion application. Because we have converted to a new VM file set, the files are duplicated so in this case you have to be sure you have space for another 5.5 GB or so. You will be notified of the successful completion:

Simply go to your VMware Fusion app now and on the File menu select Open


Point to your location that you have stored your new VMX and VMDK files. For my example I have simply left them in place. You will most likely want to move them to a folder with your other virtual machines.

Now we see the machine in our Library view and you may now start up the server. It is just that easy!

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