Based on some excellent feedback by Mark here (http://serverfault.com/questions/285598/should-i-clone-a-physical-server-to-create-a-vm-for-a-staging-server), today I was able to use the vmware converter to clone my production server for a staging server.
However the nic won't come up no matter what I do. I attempted to inistall vmware tools, as I suspect that the fact that it is not installed might prevent the nic from working. (I have the nic set as a vmxnet3 card in the vm settings). The install failed because there were several dependencies missing as well as the Linux headers. Given that Ubuntu 9.04 has been EOL'd, the packages I need to install to get the vmware tools to install are no longer available. I doubt the ubuntu 9.04 install CD has the packages on it.
What are my options? I'd rather not upgrade the version of Ubuntu yet, as the point of the vm right now is to maintain parity with the production server. Might I have better luck resetting the driver to use vmxnet2 instead of the vmxnet3?
Thanks in advance!