Ubuntu Template VM

This guide describes how to create a template VM for vSphere running Ubuntu. The template VM is supposed to be compatible with Terraform, Kubermatic KubeOne, and Kubermatic machine-controller.

This guide has been tested with Ubuntu 22.04 and vSphere 7.0. Using other versions of Ubuntu and/or vSphere might require some adjustments to the guide. Concretely speaking, older Ubuntu versions might come with cloud-init not compatible with vSphere and vApp. This might require taking addition steps to get it working.

The template VM in this guide refers to a regular vSphere VM and not VM Templates according to the vSphere terminology. The difference is quite subtle, but VM Templates are not supported yet by machine-controller.


You need to satisfy the following requirements before proceeding:

  • Have access to the vSphere API via govc and vCenter
  • Have the govc tool installed on your local machine

Preparing Local Environment

Before getting started, you should prepare your local environment by exporting GOVC_ environment variables with the information about your vSphere setup:

export GOVC_URL="https://<url>"
export GOVC_USERNAME="<username>"
export GOVC_PASSWORD="<password>"
export GOVC_INSECURE=false # set to true if you don't have a valid/trusted certificate
export GOVC_DATASTORE="<datastore-name>"

Downloading an Ubuntu 22.04 VM

Ubuntu has dedicated cloud images built to be used on cloud platforms and hypervisors such as vSphere. We’ll use an OVA cloud image because it provides the best compatibility with vSphere. OVA provides preinstalled Ubuntu VM that can be uploaded to vSphere and used as such. That being said, you don’t need to install Ubuntu manually, that’s already done for you.

The following directory on the cloud images website contains the latest images for Ubuntu 22.04 (Jammy Jellyfish). Find and download an OVA image from that directory or use the curl command below. The image should be named something like jammy-server-cloudimg-amd64.ova. It’s recommended to verify checksums, but we’ll omit that because of brevity.

You can download the image using curl:

curl -LO https://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/jammy/current/jammy-server-cloudimg-amd64.ova

Preparing Configuration for the VM

The next step is to extract the config from the downloaded OVA file and change it as described in this step. We want to ensure that we can login to the VM once we upload it to vSphere.

The easiest way to extract the config is using govc. The following command will save the VM config to a file called config.json:

govc import.spec jammy-server-cloudimg-amd64.ova > config.json

Edit the config.json file in a text editor of your choice:

  • Set DiskProvisioning to thin
    "DiskProvisioning": "thin",
  • Set password in PropertyMapping to a password that you want to use to login to the VM:
      "PropertyMapping": [
          "Key": "password",
          "Value": "<your-password>"
  • Set Network in NetworkMapping to the name of the network that you want to use:
    "NetworkMapping": [
        "Name": "VM Network",
        "Network": "<network-name>"
  • Ensure that following properties are configured as below:
    "MarkAsTemplate": false,
    "PowerOn": false,
    "InjectOvfEnv": false,
    "WaitForIP": false,
    "Name": null

With that done, save the file, close the text editor and proceed to the next step where we’ll upload the VM to vSphere.

Uploading the VM to vSphere

Now that the VM configuration is ready, we can upload the OVA file to vSphere. That can be done using govc or via vCenter. We’ll use govc for purposes of this guide:

govc import.ova --options config.json jammy-server-cloudimg-amd64.ova

That might take a few minutes depending on your internet connection speed. After upload is done, you should be able to see a newly-created VM in the vCenter. Note the VM name as we will use it later — it should be something along jammy-server-cloudimg-amd64.

Once the VM is uploaded, you’ll need to upgrade the VM compatibility to version 15 or newer (it’s recommended to use the latest version). Go to vCenter, find the VM, right click on it in the right pane, go to the Compatibility menu and then click on Upgrade VM Compatibility…. This should open a pop-up window with a dropdown menu where you can choose the VM compatibility level. Choose the latest available level and then proceed to upgrade the VM. Once the VM is upgraded, go to the next step of this guide to prepare the VM to be used as a template VM by KubeOne.

Preparing the VM

We’ll configure the VM to be used as a template VM by KubeOne and machine-controller. Before proceeding, power on the VM via vCenter and open the Web Console or connect to the VM via SSH.

Once the VM is booted, you’ll see a prompt to enter credentials in the Web Console. Login with username ubuntu and use the password that you’ve chosen earlier when preparing the config.json file.

For the sake of simplicity, switch to the root user:

sudo -i

As a first step, make sure that the VM is up-to-date:

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade -y

Next, ensure that you have cloud-init and VMware Tools installed:

apt-get install cloud-init open-vm-tools

Ensure that a service for VMware Tools is enabled and started:

systemctl enable --now vmtoolsd

For Ubuntu VMs, you need to take additional steps to ensure that each VM cloned from this template VM has unique IP and MAC addresses. More information about this can be found in VMware KB82229.

Run the following command to reset the machine-id property of the VM:

echo -n > /etc/machine-id
rm /var/lib/dbus/machine-id
ln -s /etc/machine-id /var/lib/dbus/machine-id

With that done, we need to configure networking for the VM. The following step assumes that you want to use DHCP for your VM. This might be different depending on your vSphere setup.

List all files in the /etc/netplan directory. There should be a file named as 50-*.yaml. Open that file with a text editor of your choice. Remove everything from that file and paste the following contents:

  version: 2
  renderer: networkd
        name: e*
      dhcp4: yes
      dhcp-identifier: mac

Save the file and exit the text editor. Finally, apply the network configuration and ensure that you still have network connectivity afterwards.

netplan apply

If there are any additional adjustments that you want to make to the VM, you should do those adjustments now before proceeding.

To make sure the VM is fresh and can be used as a template, and that vApp works as expected, it’s recommended to clean the cloud-init data:

cloud-init clean
cloud-init clean -l

Finally, power off the VM:


If you ever boot the template VM again, you will need to repeat steps from deleting the machine-id to cleaning the cloud-init data again.

Configuring the VM Properties and Enabling vApp

There are few steps that you should take to ensure the VM will work correctly as a template for Terraform and machine-controller.

First, right click on the VM in the right pane and select Edit Settings…. Ensure that CD/DVD drive 1 is set to Client Device, then click on that drive and ensure that Device Mode is set to Passthrough CD-ROM. Click on OK button to confirm the changes.

Finally, go to the Configure tab and then choose vApp Options. Click on the Edit button and ensure that:

  • Enable vApp options is checked
  • IP protocol is set to the appropriate protocol
  • In the OVF Details tab, both ISO image and VMware Tools must be checked

Confirm the changes by clicking on the OK button.


The VM configuration is now completely done and the VM can be used as a template VM for both Terraform and machine-controller.

Known Issues

  • Internal Kubernetes endpoints unreachable on vSphere with Cilium/Canal on VMXNET3 adapter, see this issue for more details and workaround.