Import a vCenter Server Linux Appliance with the vSphere Web Client

When you need to import a vCenter Linux-based appliance there are two clients that you can use to perform this task. Your best choice is the vSphere Web Client but that will only be available if you already have vCenter running. So that will only be possible for a second or more vCenter server. When you need to import your first vCenter appliance the client you must use is the vSphere Client on Windows. (How to do that is explained here.)

Why is the vSphere Web Client your best choice to import the appliance? Because it allows you to customize the appliance during the deployment which allows you to configure the hostname and fixed IP-address. Because of this the appliance will be ready for the remainder of the setup without any additional steps.

This article is based on vSphere and vCenter version 5.5. The requirements for the steps in this article are that you have ESXi running with at least one vCenter server deployed and the vSphere Web Client installed. For the vSphere Web Client you must also have installed the Client Integration Plugin because without it you cannot import or export appliances or upload/download files from your local system. A link to install the plugin is available at the bottom of the vSphere Web Client login. And of course you have downloaded the vCenter appliance. ( Having DNS for the domain you are installing the host and vCenter into is also highly recommended.

To start the deployment login to the vSphere Web Client, select your Datacenter, Host or Cluster where to import the appliance into and select Deploy OVF Template.

Deploy OVF tewmplate

In the deployment wizard browse to the download file of the appliance on your system. The wizard will show you the details of the appliance. Important to notice here is the disk size it will consume if imported in the thick provisioned format. If you do not want to pre-allocate, in this example, 125GB then later on in the wizard remember to select thin provisioning.

Deployment Wizard Summary

In the next screens you need to provide the following details:

  • a name for the virtual machine
  • where to place it in your inventory
  • on which datastore to place the virtual machine
  • select a disk format (thick or thin)
  • select a network to connect to

The final step of the deployment wizard is to provide the customization details. The image below shows what you need to provide such as hostname and IP-configuration. Very important is to provide a FQDN for the hostname if you ever plan to add this host to Active Directory. Only providing a host name such as VC02 wouldn't work, VC02.YOURDOMAIN.COM would work.

Customize Template

In the summary of the import wizard you can review the information you have entered and select to start the machine after deployment, which is a good idea because now you can click Finish, go have a break and when you get back the vm is started and ready for performing the next steps.

Since you have provided the server name and IP-cofngiuration yourself you already know those details and can access the vCenter administrative web portal at http://<yourserver>:5480.

When accessing that location with a browser the first page will be a certificate warning. Unless you will be adding your own signed certificate you will keep this message. Next login to the appliance with the default username and password.

User: root
Password: vmware

When you first login you must accept the License Agreement. Next the vCenter Server Setup wizard will be started. You can go directly into the setup wizard because all the host details have been provided during deployment and your host has the correct name and address. In this article I have selected the Set custom configuration method because that allows me to connect this new vCenter server into the Single SignOn configuration of an existing vCenter server.

Config Wizard

The first step in the setup wizard is to choose a database. In this example I have chosen the embedded database which you can use in production environments up to 5 hosts and 50 virtual machines. Your other choice is to connect to an existing Oracle database server where you have created a database for vCenter.

The next step is to configure Single SignOn. The default configuration is to create an embedded configuration on this host. But in my example I want to connect to an already existing vCenter 5.5 Single SignOn instance. To connect to the existing server use the lookup service URL, such as:


You will be required to accept the SHA-1 thumbprint for that server before continuing. The final steps are to add vCenter into an Active Directory domain and configure time synchronization. In the last screen of the wizard review the details and click Finish. Wait five or ten minutes for the setup to complete.

setup ready

Note: Don't forget to change the root-password for the appliance. Also pay attention to the Password expiration policy, the default setting is to expire the password after 90 days.

password expiration

Now you can use the vSphere Web Client to login to the vCenter server on this address:


At this time you can login with the root-account or as user Administrator@vsphere.local. To add your Active Directory domain to vCenter to login with your AD-accounts you must add it as an identity source to Single Sign-On. How to do this is described here:

Or use the Web Client from your earlier vCenter server that already used Single SignOn where the new vCenter server will now be available in the list of vCenter servers.

multiple vCenter Servers

The next step would be to add a license to your vCenter server or leave it running with the evaluation license for 60 days. After that create a datacenter-object and add your ESXi-host to your inventory.

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