Fixing VMware vCenter template customization for Debian Stretch (nic detected as “ether”)


I’m a big fan of Foreman, I use it everywhere to spawn my virtual machines (mostly with VMWare vCenter or AWS) and then apply directly Puppet classes on it to get a fully configured new host in a few clicks. Maybe I’ll write about it one day, let’s see.

Anyway, this week theme was mostly “Let’s upgrade from Jessie to Stretch, I’m craving Python 3.5 and the new async/await syntax)”.
Sadly, it went wrong. I was unable to use my Foreman anymore against ESX 6.0 because when injecting the customization XML file (used to define IP settings within the VM through open-vm-tools) the resulting VM had no network set.
After looking at what happened, I figured out /etc/network/interfaces had been created wrong: instead of using eth0 (yes, I disabled predicitve interface name in my template) it was all set like the interface was named ether. Uh ?

Quick Google search with “debian stretch vmware ether” lead me to the following GitHub bug opened against open-vm-tools. Sadly the issue wouldn’t come from open-vm-tools: this issue comes from a VMWare script not parsing correctly current ifconfig output (yeah, I added net-tools in my template too).

Here is an extract of the net-tools package NEWS.Debian file:

Wow, that’s a pretty dangerous move you did here….

The script creating the network configuration is actually a piece of Perl crap copied directly from the vCenter server into the VM filesystem. Yeah, that sounds like black magic but the good news is that’s it’s Perl, so it’s fixable.

So I searched for this “” file on my vCenter Windows server and I found it here:
C:\Program Files\VMware\vCenter Server\vpxd\imgcust\linux\imgcust-scripts\

I managed quite easily to understand what was wrong, and I must say that original output parsing was pretty cheap.
Anyway, here’s a better one that just works:

Nothing to restart, this file in copied everytime you apply customization to a template. You’ll find attached a text version of the patch: vcenter_Customization_pm.diff

Good luck!

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