I am trying to get what I thought was an easy process working.

Here is my situation. I have a remote linux server (running Debian) that I would like to turn into a VM so that I can do testing on it rather than the production server. I downloaded VMWare Converter. I went to the "convert machine" wizard, chose Powered-on machine, entered my remote machine details. Clicking next shows that it correctly connects to my remote linux box. Now, on the next screen, for Destination type, it enters "WMWare Infrastructure virtual machine", and I can't change this.

This is where I am stuck. Why do I need another sever to convert with? Is this where my VM gets sent to? And why can't I just convert the VM and save it on the computer that I am running the converter program on?

If I do have to use a vmware infrastructure destination, I am confused at what ESX is, why and how I use it. Any help with this process would be more than appreciated!


This is a confusing thing to do.

It basically involves 4 systems: 1) System where you install the Standalone Converter (e.g. your laptop); 2) Physical System you want to convert; 3) ESXi (Virtual Infrastructure) System installed to a USB key and booted on a separate PC and wired up to 4) another System that is exposing an NFS share.

I think once you understand that from your laptop you initiate the process from the Converter client, select the Physical system to convert (SOURCE) and direct it to the ESXi System (DESTINATION) that has mounted the NFS share to STORE the converted (Virtual) machine it makes more sense. But yah, VMWare docs need to do a much better job of explaining it.

Hope this helps.


  • Why does VMWare make this process so difficult? Seems that it could be simplified. – Zed Said Nov 6 '09 at 5:39

To carry out a VMWare Converter conversion you need both a source and a target. The source can be a live physical system or an existing VM that you wish to move to a different platform. The target can be a VMware Infrastructure Host running ESX or ESXi or a VMWare Workstation Virtual Machine or a Virtual Appliance, for a live P2V conversion it cannot simply be a location to drop the resulting VM files unfortunately.

When you run a live P2V conversion the agent is remotely installed on the Source system and it sends a snapshot of itself over a network connection to the target.

There are some limitations especially for Linux Systems. Converter (as of V4) only supports live conversion of physical Linux systems when the Target is an ESX or ESXi host. In your case if you want to use Converter you can build an ESXi host and use that as the target. It's free and relatively simple to set up if all you want to do is use it as a conversion target. Once you have the VM running successfully under ESXi you can use Converter again to move it to a VMware Workstation instance if you prefer.

The Converter User Guide is available here and has all of the details you need. You can get a copy of ESXi here.

  • Ok, so I could create a VM w/ Fusion, install linux and make that the ESX server, which I could then use to clone my production server? – Zed Said Nov 5 '09 at 22:09
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    Install ESXi to a USB key, pop it into some PC that allows you to boot from USB. If you don't want to use the local drives on the PC you can export an NFS share from another server and wire up the ESXi server to use the NFS share to store the converted VM. – HTTP500 Nov 5 '09 at 22:24
  • I don't believe so. ESX and ESXi are standalone Type 1 Hypervisor products. The hosted (type 2) hypervisors like Fusion and VMware Workstation can't be used as targets for live Linux P2V migrations according to the documentation and I've never come across anyone who's tried. – Helvick Nov 5 '09 at 22:34

The converter consists of two parts. A server, and a client.

The client can run anywhere, and just connects to a server somewhere. The server needs to run on the DESTINATION where you want the client to end up. You may need to click "connect to server" on the client, to get it connected to the right place.

Then the converter should be able to connect to the SOURCE machine via regular channels (ie. ssh / vmware mgmt port, etc.)

Hope this helps

  • Yeah, I understand about connecting to my source(the physical machine I want to convert), and that works fine. But, on the "Specify Destination" screen, it wants VMWare Infrastructure server details. What info are they wanting? It wants a product like ESX Server or vCenter Server, which I have no idea how to use. This is where I am confused. – Zed Said Nov 5 '09 at 21:40
  • I want to convert the linux server to a VM for use in VMWare Fusion. Am I doing this the wrong way? – Zed Said Nov 5 '09 at 21:52
  • Where it says "Select Source type" select "powered on machine", and then give the root account ssh details, and ensure that ssh allows root access. That being said, I have only used the converter to convert between VMWare Server and ESX - so I've never actually worked this through for a physical machine. – Brent Nov 5 '09 at 22:38

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