I ran into an interesting client requirement recently. I needed to perform a greenfield deployment of VMware vSphere 5.5. This was to use the Linux-based VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA)...

The main issue with this customer was that there was NO Windows footprint. No Windows PCs, no Windows Servers... This was by choice, and there was zero interest in introducing Windows to the environment. The goal was to use VMware to virtualize a multi-tier Linux web application and its test, staging and production instances.

When I initially recommended VMware, I mentioned that I'd deployed it in many environments that were primarily Linux. I always had some Windows systems available, though...

So the problem arose during the onsite installation: The vCenter Server Appliance, while Linux-based, needs to be deployed to ESXi using either the vSphere Web Client (which wouldn't exist yet, because it's part of the vCSA) or the vSphere Windows .NET client (which requires Windows).

The Chicken and the Egg problem...

The client challenged me: "Why should we have to rely on Microsoft in order to install VMware?" -

I didn't have a good answer :(

So is this possible? How can one install this type of setup from scratch without using Windows?

(BTW - I'm a Mac user, so I just use VMware Fusion and have a Windows 7 instance handy...)

  • Thinking of Wine + Mono + vSphere Client working together...But then I got scared. Of course WineHQ already has it listed.
    – jscott
    Sep 9, 2014 at 13:50
  • @jscott Interesting option.
    – ewwhite
    Sep 9, 2014 at 13:51
  • You'd think vmware would work hard on this because it could be considered a competitive advantage compared to hyperv, in a way.
    – Rob Moir
    Sep 10, 2014 at 14:10
  • @RobM You know, I don't mind Windows... but having customers who really dislike it is a problem in cases like this.
    – ewwhite
    Sep 10, 2014 at 14:16
  • 1
    Precisely, I don't mind windows either, but it seems a curious, needless dependency and one that will annoy customers like your one here. Especially as I could deploy hyper-v without a single windows server or client on site (not saying it would be fun or that I would want to, mind you).
    – Rob Moir
    Sep 10, 2014 at 14:19

4 Answers 4


What about the OVF Tool?

VMware OVF Tool is a command-line utility that allows you to import and export OVF packages to and from many VMware products.

OVF Tool Documentation

It's available for Windows 32-bit and 64-bit, Linux 32-bit and 64-bit, and Mac OS X.


Officially, VMware hasn't released a vSphere Client for Linux.

Unofficially, you can try using VEMan

Alternatively, you can connect vSphere Web Client (Linux version) to your vCenter server, if you set that up. Some of the feature you need will be available, but not all.

Here's the VMware Documentation on this


Getting this to work on 5.5 will be hard. The OVFtool won't help as you can't get the settings passed to the appliance.

If the customer is on a current support contract you could deploy the vCSA 6.5. It comes with installers for Linux and Mac. You can still keep the hosts on 5.5 for compatibility/app support reasons. If needed you could roll out the vCSA 5.5 from there afterwards.


Use one of the free virtual machines that Microsoft offers for testing Edge and IE8 through IE11 to run vSphere client. They eventually expire, but you can do unlimited re-installs.

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