After getting my Dell PowerEdge loaded up with ESXi 3.5, I decided to try out one of the Ubuntu JEOS loads from the VMWare Virtual Appliance Marketplace. After unzipping the 7zip file I was left with the normal VMWare file types such as .vmx and .vmdk, but ESXi only gives me the option to bring in a Virtual Appliance from a .ovf file. After a little research I determined that a conversion would be required.
I found two different ways to get this done, from the command line or using VMWare vCenter Converter:
Use SCP to copy your Workstation files over to the ESX server. The path is /vmfs/volumes/YourDataStore. Next, ssh into your ESX server and run the following command:
vmkfstools -i sourcefile.vmdk /vmfs/vmfsname/destinationfile.vmdk
Once that process is complete you can point ESX at that file and start it up. Make sure you delete the source files so you aren’t wasting space on the ESX server.
The second and possibly easier way to do this is to download and install the vCenter Converter from VMWare. Once you have the application installed, simply follow the steps in the conversion wizard. It takes you from start to finish, including the transfer of files to the ESX server itself.