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.


Let’s unpack the ova:

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

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
-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
tar uvf example.vmdk

Now we can deploy example_fixed.ova

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