Convert Virtual Machine of VirtualBox to ESXi

My coworker want to build a virtual machine on ESXi, but vendor only support virtual appliance of Oracle VirtualBox format. VMware has a KB article to show how to “Importing Virtual Machine from Oracle VirtualBox to VMware Fusion, Workstation, or Player (2053864)“. It’s working fine. But it’s not applicable for VMware ESXi.

If you follow the guide to export .ova file and import to ESXi. It will show error below on ESXi 6.0 or later:

Issues detected with selected template. Details….No supported hardware versions among….

After couple of hours’ deep dive. I figured out a way to convert VirtualBox to ESXi. You need Oracle VirtualBox, VMware Workstation or VMware Player and VMware ESXi host.

  1. Select the virtual machine -> Go to main menu -> File -> Export appliance.
  2. Choose the virtual machine.
  3. Make sure Format is “Open virtualization format 1.0“.
  4. Export to a .ova file.
  5. Open the .ova file in VMware Workstation or VMware Player.
  6. The import of the VM maybe failed with following error. Just click Retry button it will work.
    The import failed because xxxxx did not pass OVF specification conformance or virtual hardware compliance checks.
  7. Select the virtual machine and go to main menu -> File -> Export to OVF.
  8. VMware Workstation or VMware Player generates .ovf, .mf and .vmdk files.
  9. Edit .ovf file and find the line with keyword “VirtualSystemType“.
  10. Change the value “vmx-XX” to the version lower or equal to your ESXi version.
  11. Edit .mf file and remove SHA256 value of .ovf file in first line.
    SHA256(XXXXX.ovf)= xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  12. Now it’s ready to import to VMware ESXi host.


This procedure is not involve any code or command. There are also couple of other ways to convert VirtualBox to ESXi by ovftool command line. I tried several ways but didn’t work. Maybe I did something wrong.

In step 10, I changed VM version in .ovf file directly. I think you can also leverage VMware Workstation or VMware Player to downgrade the virtual machine’s version in GUI. It should work as long as the version is lower than your ESXi supported VM version.


    • There are couple of KBs talking about inventory service failed issue. KB2119422, KB2151435…etc. if it cannot fix the issue, you can also try reset it by KB2146264. Make sure take a snapshot before doing it. Hopefully it helps.