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Vmware to Proxmox:
A step-by-step procedure for converting a virtual machine

VMware to Proxmox

Making the move from VMware to Proxmox may be stressful, but I’ll make it simple for you. It is far easier than you would think to import a VM from the VMware environment.

Introduction Vmware to Proxmox migration

Migrating from Vmware to Proxmox can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. This article will discuss the benefits of using Proxmox and walk you through the steps necessary to make the switch from VMware to Proxmox.

Proxmox offers several advantages over Vmware, including increased flexibility and lower costs. Proxmox delivers the same features as VMware, plus many more. So if you’re considering making the switch from Vmware to Proxmox, read on to learn more.

Benefits of using Proxmox

Proxmox VE is an open-source server virtualization platform based on KVM and LXC. It provides integrated containers and full virtualization on a single platform, making it an ideal solution for running virtual machines and containers. Proxmox VE is easy to install and manage, and it offers a wide range of features to meet your needs.

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Some of the benefits of using Proxmox VE include:

Scalability: Proxmox VE can be easily scaled to meet your needs. It supports up to 32 nodes and 16,000 virtual machines in a single cluster.

  • Flexibility: Proxmox VE offers a wide range of options for configuring your virtual environment. You can choose from various storage options, networking configurations, and more.
  • Reliability: Proxmox VE is a stable and reliable platform. It has been in use in production environments for years, backed by a strong community of users and developers.
  • Cost: Proxmox VE is a free and open-source platform. There are no licensing fees or other costs associated with using it.

If you’re considering migrating to Proxmox VE, you should keep a few things in mind.

First, while Proxmox VE is easy to install, it does require some good knowledge of Linux administration and an understanding of LVM storage and how to implement storage systems.

Second, while Proxmox VE offers many features and benefits, it may not be the best platform for every use case.

Third, when migrating from another platform to Proxmox VE, there will be a learning curve as you get accustomed to the new platform.

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Walkthrough the steps necessary to convert a VM from VMware to Proxmox

I assume that you have already installed Proxmox and with local storage configured. My sample Proxmox installation for this article is on a Dell Poweredge T630. I have 6 Disk attached to a Dell PERC Adapter. I use Proxmox VE 7.1.

Proxmox disk configuration
Proxmox disk configuration

In this article, I won’t tell you how to configure LVM. I recommend this blog to configure local storage as a repository for your VMs.

Step 1: Locate the VM(s) in your VMware environment

Enable the SSH service in Vcenter or ESXI. It’s best to SSH with Putty or Kitty directly.

VMware to Proxmox

  1. cd /vmfs/volumes is where the datastore is located
  2. locate the storage where the VM reside
  3. in my case, it is on the storage ‘Dell_SAS, cd /”Dell SAS”
  4. I want to convert the VM ‘WindowServer2022’
  5. We need to move both vmdk files to Proxmox

Step 2: Transfer the files with scp to the Proxmox environment

Go to the Proxmox environment and open the ‘shell’ console

scp -v root@ /mnt/lvol/images/WindowsServer2022-flat.vmdk

for the flat vmdk file, repeat the same step for the vmdk file (shown in the picture above. My destination location is /mnt/lvol/images which I configured earlier (not the scope of this article). SCP transfer may take a while depending on the size of the vmdk files. Make sure to shut down the VM before the transfer and delete any snapshots. It is also a good idea to deinstall the VMware tools from the VM.

Step 3: Create a Proxmox VM with the GUI

There are two things to consider, choose the correct BIOS, and select SATA as the type for the HD drive. The size of the hard drive doesn’t matter. My virtual machine has the ID 100

Proxmox VM
Proxmox VM

Step 4: Import the VMDK disk

qm importdisk 100 /mnt/lvol/images/WindowsServer2022.vmdk VMdata -format raw

disk imported

unused disk
Proxmox VM with converted disk, but not enabled yet

The converted vmdk disk will automatically appear as ‘Unused Disk’ in the Proxmox GUI. Now highlight it and click ‘Edit’. Make sure the ‘bus/type’ is SATA too. A converted Windows VM would not boot in Proxmox without SATA as the bus type. In the next step, we are going to install the VIRTio drivers.

converted disk attached
Proxmox VM with the newly converted disk enabled

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Go to ‘Options’, change the boot order, and ensure the newly attached disk is enabled.

boot order
boot order

Step 5: Start the VM and install the VirtIO drivers

You can download the VirtIO drivers from this page. Windows VirtIO. Depending on how you set up the local storage, you can upload the ISO directly to the Proxmox store

VMware to Proxmox ISO Images
ISO Images in the LVM store

and attach them to the CD-ROM in the VM

VirtIO ISO attached to CD-Rom

Now we are ready to start the VM for the first time on the Proxmox environment.

Vmware to Proxmox
VMware to Proxmox

Now we can install the drivers for Windows. Since I already attached the VirtIO driver ISO, it is mounted in the Windows VM. In most cases, it is the 64-bit driver’s virtio-win-gt-x64 to execute

After installation, shut down the VM, and then, you can change the SATA bus/type of the attached hard disk to ‘VirtIO’ for best performance. Also, you can remove the disk which was created when we set up the Proxmox VM.

Windows crashes during boot-up with VirtIO driver

I have seen instances where Windows crashed at boot-up when the VirtIO driver was installed. A solution is to add another hard drive with the bus/type ‘VirtIO.’ Windows loads the VirtIO driver for the new HD. After that, you can remove the second HD and change bus/type to ‘scsi’ for the first Hard Disk.

VM after conversion
Proxmox VM after conversion

Please note in this example, I converted a Windows Server 2022 VM from VMware to Proxmox. I had issues with the latest VirtIO drivers (0.1.217 / April 2022). I downloaded an earlier version (0.1.215), and the Installer ran fine.

Here you will find earlier VirtIO drivers.

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Some resources for further reading

Proxmox vs. VMware
Convert Proxmox to VMware
Learn Ubuntu Group
Linux File Permissions

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This article aimed to show how VMware VMs can be converted to Proxmox using straightforward instructions. VMware is known to be challenging to use and has a higher price point, while Proxmox is more affordable and has more features. Although Proxmox may have a steeper learning curve, the extra effort may be worth it in the long run for a more efficient system.

What are your thoughts on this article? Leave a comment below!

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  1. Is there a similar blog for migrating Ubuntu Servers from ESXi to Proxmox? I assume the process is similar but wanted to see if you had a step by step that is as good as this one.

    1. You can use the same process as mentioned. An Ubuntu Server is also a vmdk file on ESXi. No difference between a Windows VM

  2. Thank you so much for this definitive guide, I managed to migrate one of my Domain controllers from VMware to Proxmox and currently busy with the second one. I am very new to Proxmox so I can tell you this has been a learning curve to say the least, but I love learning about new and different technologies. Your guide was the best one I have seen for this type of conversion, thank you again!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m happy that my article was helpful to you.

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