Tricks for Importing VMware Workstation VMDK to ESXi 6.7

So I’ve been playing with some of the Turnkey Linux VMs, which are nice a lightweight Debian Linux OS core packaged with purpose-built software

They run lighttpd out of the box and have web portals, web-accessible shells, webmin for easy administration, Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate management automation, and usually some web administration specific to the purpose for which they are built.

They’re really pretty nice! Nothing too fancy as far as their looks, but they get the job done and seem very stable. They can really save a lot of time.

Turnkey Linux’s VM packages are available as iso, vmdk, qcow2, tar, and Docker images

So I was trying a couple for torrent server and openvpn, and since I run ESXi hosts, I opted for the vmdk images. I was expecting just a disk image (.vmdk), but lo-and-behold, they’re not the image files but full VMs built on VMware Workstation.

This is cool but also presents some compatibility issues, as you can’t just copy a Workstation VM to your datastore and run it like anything else. I tried it personally not knowing what I was in for, and my host couldn’t open the .VMX file when I clicked on “edit settings” (it just gets stuck at “loading”).

So OK, cool, let’s figure out how to get this working. The easiest way if you have Workstation is to download the VM locally and load it up in Workstation. Then connect to your ESXi host and click “upload”:

In workstation go to VM –> Manage –> Upload

Then specify the host you want to send the VM to and it will automatically convert it for you.

However it’s not without its problems. You will probably want to upgrade the VM type – mine was woefully outdated, being at version 6 when the host’s capability was version 14. This prevented me from using newer device types and changing the OS to Debian 9.

But even after upgrading the VM, I still couldn’t add vmxnet3 or paravirtual scsi drivers. This I solved by cloning the VM in VCSA. Somehow, the cloned VM was able to add the vmxnet3 and paravirtual scsi drivers. I’m not sure why they weren’t just available from upgrading the VM, but it worked.

What if you don’t have a copy of VMware Workstation? Well, it’s not that hard to get around. This is how I did it the first time I tried importing a Turnkey appliance, since I already had the VM on my host’s datastore.

SSH into the host and invoke the following command:

[Host@VMdir] # vmkfstools -i HostedVirtualDisk ESXVirtualDisk

Where the HostedVirtualDisk is the one supplied by the Turnkey Appliance and ESXVirtualDisk is the output you’re going to use for your new VM.

You can read the KB on this procedure here:

Then just manually create a VM and import the existing disk, using the one you just output with vmkfstools.

After that, you can safely delete the files that were included with the Turnkey appliance, being careful to save your vmkfstools output vmdk file.

Also, I noticed on VMFS v6 I could not re-locate the vmdk file. For some reason it had to be left in its original location (folder) where it was created. There may be a way to work around this, but it’s easy enough just to leave the dir. Maybe that’ll be for another post…

Happy virtualizing!

Asrock J4105-ITX 16GB and 32GB memory configuration tests

I saw this on a German web site called and I thought it was pretty significant so I thought I’d share a copy of the translation to English

The Asrock J4105-ITX is a useful low-power build that has been confirmed to work as an ESXi IGD GPU passthrough computer with 4K@60Hz HDMI 2.0. It can be had for around $110 for the motherboard.

The real sticking point for ESXi, besides the realtek NIC, is who wants to run an ESXi host that can only support up to 8GB RAM? As that is the official specifications listed on the Asrock web site…

Well this group of hardware testers in Germany has laid that myth to rest by doing their own testing, and they confirm that configurations of up to 32GB work just fine. Have a look:

32GB Memory – ASRock J4105-ITX – overRAMing Test


32GB Memory – ASRock J4105-ITX – overRAMing Test

32GB Memory - ASRock J4105-ITX - overRAMing Test

By Jürgen Hartmann 1 years ago

For all Gemini Lake processors , the current data sheets show a maximum RAM of only 8GB (2x 4GB) . The processor series of the Gemini Lake series include the following Intel CPUs: 

Pentium Silver J5005 (4M cache, up to 2.80 GHz)Pentium Silver N5000 (4M cache, up to 2.70 GHz)Celeron J4105 (4M cache, up to 2.50 GHz)Celeron J4005 (4M cache, up to 2.70 GHz)Celeron N4100 (4M cache, up to 2.40 GHz) 

Using the example of the current ASRock motherboard J4105-ITX with the Celeron J4105 processor of the same name, we were able to prove in the overRAMing test that the values ​​described in the specifications for maximum RAM are incorrect. So we could prove in the memory duration test that 32GB (2x 16GB) are possible.

Test scenario:

In our overRAMing test , we extensively tested the ASRock J4105-ITX Mini-ITX motherboard in continuous testing with different memory configurations.

  • The following memory configurations have been tested: 
  • 12GB Memory – (8GB + 4GB)
  • 16GB Memory – (8GB + 8GB)
  • 24GB memory – (16GB + 8GB)
  • 32GB Memory – (16GB + 16GB) 

The memory tests were performed with MemTest86

The complete 32GB memory was recognized and could be fully utilized. The first initialization of the 32GB requires some patience. The ASRock J4105 Mini-ITX needs approx. 35 seconds until the system starts. 

The two 16GB memory modules have been described and read in the ASrock motherboard for more than 6 hours, including the “Hammer Test.” All tests were performed 3 times in a row , and none of the tested memory configurations found an abnormality, error or problem in the memory duration test become.

Why the manufacturers limit the maximum RAM to only 8GB (2x 4GB) in the manuals and documentation is incomprehensible. Our tests were convincing in every configuration of the main memory.

Where are the new processors used?

The new Gemini Lake processors are used eg in the following motherboards / mini-PCs: 

ASRock motherboard J4105 Mini-ITXASRock motherboard J5005 Mini-ITXiFujitsu motherboard D3543-S1 / -S2 / -S3Fujitsu Mini STX Boards D3544-S1 / -S2Intel NUC KIT NUC7CJYHIntel NUC KIT NUC7PJYHMSI Cubi N 8GL (MS-B171) 

The 8GB and 16GB memory modules have been tested, approved and successfully sold by us due to the successful tests.

Another note from the manual!

When changing the memory modules, we noticed that the BIOS of the ASRock motherboard J4105-ITX does not always recognize the new memory. In this case, the motherboard does not start anymore. The screen will stay black.

ASRock motherboard J4105-ITX

The cause is not due to the memory sizes that are used. We were also able to reproduce this phenomenon with 2GB and 4GB RAM.

The remedy here is the function CRLCMOS1 as described in the manual under 1.3 Jumpersettings .

Quote from the ASRock manual: 
CRLMOS1 allows you to delete the data in CMOS. The data in CMOS includes system setup information such as system password, date, time, and system setup parameters … Please turn off your computer and unplug the power cord. Then you can short-circuit the solder points on CLRCMOS1 with a metal part, such as a paperclip, for 3 seconds …

Once the CMOS was cleared, any memory configuration could be installed. This was then always recognized immediately and the system booted on the 1st attempt.