VMware to Proxmox

Proxmox surprised us just before Easter 2024 by releasing a new import wizard to migrate VMs from VMware to Proxmox. The new wizard is available from WebGuI, making the conversion process much easier and straightforward.

Edit: Proxmox released end of April 2024 version 8.2. The Converter to VMware is now official.

Proxmox mentions that it has tested the import tool with ESXi versions 6,7 and 8.

Further, below, I describe the method used to convert a VM from VMware to Proxmox before the new import tool is released. I refer to it as the manual method,

If you are new to Proxmox, here is a short introduction. Otherwise, skip to my walkthrough of the new method.

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 switch.

Proxmox offers several advantages over VMware, including increased flexibility and lower costs. It delivers the same features as VMware and many more. So, if you’re considering switching 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 ideal for running virtual machines and containers. Proxmox VE is easy to install and manage and offers many features to meet your needs.

Walkthrough the steps necessary to convert a VM from VMware to Proxmox (new method)

Step 1: Add the test repository

  • Log in to the Proxmox WebGUI
  • Click on the Proxmox server on the left side and go to ‘Repositories’
Proxmox repository
  • You see that only Enterprise repositories are added from Proxmox.
  • Click the ‘Add’ button and select the ‘No-Subscription’ and ‘Test’ repository
Proxmox repository add test repository

I had to click the ‘Reload’ button until I got the newly added repository.

Proxmox repository with test repository

Step 2: Update Proxmox

As of this writing, I updated to 8.1.10

  • Go to ‘Updates’ and click the ‘Refresh’ button
  • You should see a lot of new packages in the list.
  • Click the ‘Upgrade’ button.
  • A window will pop up, and you must confirm to start the upgrade process. It will take a while, depending on when you update the Proxmox Server the last time.
Proxmox Upgrade

Step 3: Verify the installation of the ESXI import tool

  • Go to ‘Shell,’ the console will open
  • Type in ‘dpkg -l | grep pve-esxi-import-tools’
Verify the ESXI import tool
  • Reboot the Proxmox server

Step 4: Add the ESXI repository to Proxmox

  • Navigate to ‘Datacenter’, and ‘Storage’ and click the ‘Add’ button
  • You should see a new entry for ESXi
Proxmox adding ESXi storage
  • It’s time to add your ESXi repository to the Proxmox environment.
  • For the ID, use letters, not numbers. (I made a mistake in the screenshot)
  • Use the IP address and credentials of your ESXi server. You can add the Vcenter IP, but Proxmox states that the migration will take longer.
  • I don’t use a certificate for my ESXi, I checked the ‘skip.’ I like that Proxmox added this feature.
Add ESXi repository to Proxmox
  • Click ‘Add’
Proxmox with ESXi repository

Step 5: Import a VMware ESXi VM

  • On the left side, you will see the new ESXi storage.
  • Click on it, and on the right side, you will see all the VMs available.
  • I import my ‘Test Server,’ which is a Windows Server.

Before clicking the ‘ Import ‘ button, here are a few things to mention.

Proxmox import an ESXi VM
  • Deinstall first the VMware Tools
  • Install the Proxmox VirtIO drivers
  • Power off the VM on ESXi (it’s required
  • Migration will reset the network interface; it’s best to note down the network information or set it to DHCP
  • If you are using BitLocker or any other disk encryption tool, remove it
  • Remove any snapshot before converting
  • Click the ‘Import’ button, and the import wizard will appear. The wizard will recognize the settings from the ESXi VM as reliable.
Proxmox Import Guest General
Proxmox Import Guest Advanced
  • Click the ‘Import’ button to start the migration process.
Proxmox Import Guest transfer
Proxmox Import Guest transfer finished

In the right image, you see the task finished successfully

The ‘General’ tab has a live migration check box. It doesn’t mean you can migrate a powered-on VM from ESXi to Proxmox. When the box is checked, Proxmox will start the VM when it has migrated enough data and continue the migration while the VM is starting.

I recommend not using the option. For migration, you need to schedule a downtime anyway.

Step 6: Start the converted VM

Now, it’s time to boot up the converted VM. The new VM will be visible on the left side.

As you can see from the picture below, the Windows VM booted, and the SCSI controller is type VirtIO.

converted VM is booting
Proxmox virtual machine settings

How awesome is that from Proxmox!! Wow!!

Below, you see a selection of Mini PCs that run Proxmox

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Best Mini PC for Home Server

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Walkthrough the steps necessary to convert a VM from VMware to Proxmox (manual method)

I assume that you have already installed Proxmox and have 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 8.1

Proxmox disk configuration
Proxmox disk configuration

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 [email protected]:/vmfs/volumes/5f57b3e1-433e2c24-0b26-2cea7f5aa14f/WindowsServer2022/WindowsServer2022-flat.vmdk /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. 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

Proxmox Mini-PC Ideas for a Home Lab

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: Proxmox 8.1 has a new feature that injects VirtIO drivers with Windows guests.

When creating a Windows VM, you can conveniently add a second CD/DVD drive directly in the creation wizard. This allows for easier integration of the Windows VirtIO drivers ISO before starting the VM, streamlining the process.

Here, you will find VirtIO drivers.

Check out the table below for great deals on servers available on Amazon.

Product NameView on Amazon
Dell PowerEdge R730XD Server | 2X E5-2680 V3 2.50GHz = 24 Cores | 256GB | H730 | 24x 600GB 10K SAS (Renewed) View on Amazon
PowerEdge Dell R630 Server | 2X E5-2690 v4 = 28 Cores | 64GB RAM | 2X 1TB SSD (Renewed) View on Amazon
Dell PowerEdge R640 1U Rack Server, Dual Xeon 6130 2.10 GHz, 256GB DDR4 Memory, 7.68TB Enterprise SSD Storage, RAID, Dual Power, iDRAC, Rail Kit (Renewed) View on Amazon
Dell PowerEdge T320 Tower Server | 1X E5-2450 8 Cores | 32GB | H310 | 8TB Storage (Renewed)View on Amazon
Hewlett Packard Enterprise HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 Plus v2 Ultra Micro Tower Server for Small Business, Xeon E-2314 2.8GHz, 64GB Memory, 4TB SSDView on Amazon
HP High-End Virtualization Server 36-Core 768GB RAM 16TB DL360 G9 (Renewed)View on Amazon
HP Proliant DL360 G9 Server / E5-2670 V3 2.3GHz / Choose RAM / P440 / 4X 3TB SAS (Renewed) View on Amazon
Supermicro SYS-5019D-4C-FN8TP Xeon D-2133IT Quad Core Front I/O Short Depth 1U Server, 2X SFP+, 2X 10GBase-T, 4X GbE LANView on Amazon
Supermicro E300-9D-8CN8TP Mini PC Server - Xeon D-2146NT - Serial ATA/600 Controller - ASPEED AST2500 Graphic Card - 10 Gigabit EthernetView on Amazon

I would love to get some feedback from you. Was this article helpful? Please share your opinion with me in the comment section below. Or, if you prefer a more personal touch, feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. Your thoughts and insights are always appreciated.

Before you go …

If you found the guide on transitioning from VMware to Proxmox insightful, you might be interested in a more in-depth comparison between these two platforms. I recommend checking out Proxmox vs ESXi, which delves into the strengths and weaknesses of each. This comparison will provide a clearer understanding of how Proxmox stacks up against VMware’s ESXi, helping you make an informed decision for your virtualization needs. This article is precious if you consider which platform best aligns with your technical requirements and business objectives.

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  1. I have a windows 2000 vmdk I need to convert to proxmox. Is there VirtI0 drivers available for windows 2000?

    1. I doubt there is – Try to start the VM in the Proxmox environment with SATA controller instead of using SCSI Controller.

  2. 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

  3. 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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