ESXi 5.1 : Fixing ‘Failed to deploy OVF package: The task was canceled by a user.’

Where I work, we love using OVA templates to speed up our deployment of virtual machines. I recently upgraded one of my servers to ESXi 5.1 (which also required an update to vSphere). ESXi 5.1 provides support for Windows 8 and Server 2012, which is incredibly useful. However, whilst building OVA templates for these operating systems, I stumbled across an issue.

I ran through the ‘New Virtual Machine’ wizard, selecting Windows 8 (or Server 2012), leaving all settings default. Installed my operating system, and made the required customisations, shutdown the machine and exported an OVA template through vSphere – excellent, how easy!

However, whilst trying to re-deploy the OVA to the ESXi 5.1 host, through the ‘Deploy OVA template’ wizard, it failed immediately after completing the wizard (right before it shows the deployment progress bar). Now, I have a particular hate for misleading error messages, and this one seems to fall right in-to that category -

Failed to deploy OVF package: The task was canceled by a user.

How misleading. I, or any other user, certainly didn’t cancel the task. So what happened? I took a look through the (horrendous) hostd.log on the ESXi box and found absolutely nothing of any value.

Frustrated by the inability to redeploy a template I spent so long preparing, I broke open the OVA template and took a look inside. There were three files with different extensions,

  • .ova – OVF descriptor, written in XML, which describes the hardware requirements
  • .mf – contains SHA1 checksums of the .OVA and .VMDK
  • .vmdk – the virtual hard disk for the virtual machine.

I immediately discarded the .mf. If you modify the .ova and don’t update the .mf, it’ll complain that the checksum is invalid. Removing this file seems to prevent vSphere from checking the checksums, which is useful, seeing as we want to poke around the .ova. After fiddling around inside the .ova, I stumbled across the following line…


Changing the above line, to read…


…appears to have fixed my deployment issues. Perhaps changing the ‘CD Drive Device type’ in the virtual machine’s settings would’ve fixed it. But by that point, I had already exported the OVA and deleted the source virtual machine.

Hopefully someone will stumble across this one day, and it’ll save them a few hours!

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166 thoughts on “ESXi 5.1 : Fixing ‘Failed to deploy OVF package: The task was canceled by a user.’

  1. Tan May 16, 2014 at 1:09 am Reply

    Thanks heaps!!! It did save me lot of times. Great finging.

  2. Barry Demchak May 17, 2014 at 9:41 pm Reply

    Big time thanks!

  3. Mark Bailey May 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm Reply

    So just how did you have to “stumble” on this solution!? :) Either way, I’m not worthy… I’m not worthy… I’m not worthy! Now I can go eat dinner and have a glass of wine! :) Thanks!

  4. SuB May 26, 2014 at 10:17 am Reply

    Great! Works Fine.

    I think this problem occurs when export VM which using ISO file in CD-ROM Drive. But the error message in awful. Be careful VMWare please.

  5. Rob Morin June 2, 2014 at 2:26 pm Reply

    This worked great for me, thanks buddy!

  6. Sean D June 13, 2014 at 3:40 am Reply

    Awesome. I knew there was something wrong. In my case when I was untarballing I discovered a data integrity error in the vmdk itself. Redownloaded the 4GB file off our ftp and was good to go after that!

  7. Patrick June 18, 2014 at 9:32 pm Reply

    Saved my behind! Thank you!

  8. GeeK June 25, 2014 at 9:29 am Reply

    Awesome..great info to a noob

  9. Jamie GruenerJamie Gruener July 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm Reply

    In my case this was because I forgot to remove the VMware tools .iso before shutting down and creating the template.

  10. Michael July 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm Reply

    This fixed my issue as well. After deleting the .mf and editing the .ova in notepad it worked. You rock!!

  11. Riaan July 31, 2014 at 11:46 am Reply

    Excellent!!!!!! Thank you.

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