VMware products have a built-in tool called OVFtool to export Virtual machines in a proper way in the format other products can understand. It can export the virtual hard disk and VM configuration. It’s a command-line tool that is available in the VMware Workstation or VMware player installation location. In this post, let me explain how to export a VMware virtual machine to OVF format, then import the particular OVF in VirtualBox.
Don’t you think why we have to use this tool when VirtualBox natively supports VMDK disk files? Yes, you are correct. VMware’s virtual hard disk file format VMDK can be directly used by Oracle VirtualBox as a VM’s hard disk. Check my earlier guide about importing a VMDK file into VirtualBox. But, the OVF tool does the export in a professional manner, so you can publish on the Internet and share with others. Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an industry-standard that describes metadata about virtual machine images in XML format.
Importing a virtual machine in various virtualization software platform with OVF format is very easy since it has the pre-configured Virtual machine settings. VMware vSphere console has a GUI based OVF export tool to export a VM and distribute to different hosts or even different organizations.
Here we are going to discuss the export option with OVF tool on Windows 10/8.1 clients that have VMware workstation or VMware player.
You can download OVFtool from VMware official site if you are using older products than Workstation 7.1 or VMPlayer 3.1
In this example, I will export a VMware VM (Windows 7 guest) to OVF format and import into Oracle VirtualBox. I will be using the GUI and CLI method here.
The complete usage guide of OVFTool is available here.
Export VMware VM to VirtualBox by OVF
Here are the things you must consider:
a) Uninstall VMware Tools from Guest OS VM (From Control Panel) and restart. The guest additions tool from VMware workstation, Player or vSphere will not work on other platforms, in our example, it is Oracle VirtualBox. It is always better to prepare a VM without the guest additions of particular virtualization software.
b) Remove the sound card, network, and CD ROM from VM settings (if you are going to import this OVF in VMware products, then this step not required, but for VirtualBox, it’s required.). Here is a thread about this.
c) The VM should be completely powered off (not is saved or suspend state).
Export a VM to OVF by GUI
In VMware Workstation, select the VM (which meets the earlier conditions), then click on File –> Export to OVF as shown below.
Choose the OVF file name and location to save the export. Make sure that the destination is having enough space. If everything fine, the export will start and process successfully.
Create OVF Export by OVFTool in Command Prompt
1) If you have the latest VMware products, then you can find ovftool.exe here.
Program files -> VMware – workstation or VMplayer – > OVFTool folder.
If you have older versions and installed OVF tool manually, then it will be available under
Program Files – > VMware -> VMware OVF Tool.
2) Set the Windows path in Environment variables to enable running this command from any location, otherwise, you have to execute this command from the correct path folder.
From the location of OVFtool, hold the SHIFT key and right-click the mouse. This will bring the option to open the command prompt (or Powershell) from this location.
3) Here is the syntax of the command.
ovftool "path of VM vmx file" "path to keep the export"
The following command will export a Windows 7 VM to OVF format in my example
Ovftool windows7.vmx f:/win7export/windows7ovf.ovf
Since I added OVFtool to Windows RUN variables, I was able to execute this command from Virtual machine’s folder, so giving the vmx file name worked straight away.
F:/win7export/windows7ovf.ovf is the destination (I created the “win7export” folder already)
4) Successful conversion created vmdk disk and ovf file as below.
Import OVF in VirtualBox
5) Open VirtualBox and click on File then select Import Appliance.
6) Press the Choose button, browse the converted ovf file and press Next.
7) If you get the next screen without any problems then you are almost good to go. Otherwise, you need to open the .ovf file in a text editor and modify the errors.
You can check this guide about the possible errors and how to fix them when you export a VM from VMware and import in VirtualBox by OVFTool.
8) Don’t forget to install VirtualBox additions in guest VM once it is imported.
As an alternative option, you can convert the VMDK file to VDI and migrate a virtual machine from VMware to VirtualBox.
If you are looking for other way around like exporting a VM from VirtualBox to VMware, you can read this guide. This guide shows how to properly export a virtual machine in VirtualBox that can be moved to different hosts and virtualization software.
Do let me know how this migration process worked for you. Have you faced any issues in importing the OVF file in VirtualBox?