vCenter “Unable to retrieve manifest or certificate file”

There is a bug in vCenter 6.5 which occasionally happens when you deploy an OVA from web.

VMware is probably going to fix it, but until then when need to use a workaround.

OVA file is an archive which contains:

  • .mf – manifest with checksums
  • .ovf – XML with characteristics of the VM
  • .vmdk – VM disks
  • .cert – certificate – not necessary

When you deploy an OVA and the manifest file isn’t read within 100s after the deployment has been started vCenter will show a “Unable to retrieve manifest or certificate file” error.
To prevent this we need to add .mf (and .cert if exists) to the beginning of the archive.

Example

Let’s unpack the ova:

tar xvf example.ova
x example.ovf
x example.vmdk
x example.mf

So now we have:

ls -l
-rw-r--r--  1 steve  admins  6150411230 May 22 12:41 example.vmdk
-rw-r--r--  1 steve  admins         221 May 22 12:41 example.mf
-rw-r--r--  1 steve  admins        7625 May 22 12:41 example.ovf

Then we create the ova again, paying attention to add .mf (and .cert if exists) before .vmdk:

tar cvf example_fixed.ova example.ovf
tar uvf example.mf
tar uvf example.vmdk

Now we can deploy example_fixed.ova

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