VMware Converter Fails for Linux Client

You need to change the installed SCSI controller to be a LSI Logic controller. The original machine may have been configured for a Transtec 3Ware SCSI controller.

The main relevant article is here:

Once the VM has been converted, you can change the hardware of the VM in the "Edit Settings..." menu from right-clicking on the VM. You can only change it when the VM is powered off.

Edit the VM settings and connect the DVD drive to a "Datastore ISO File": infra1-localDisk/vSphere Management Assistant/rhel-5-server-i386-dvd.iso.
Set the Device Status to "Connected" and "Connect at power on".
In the VM options page, set it to go into the BIOS setup at next boot.

Open a console on the VM and power it on. It will go into the BIOS setup.
In the "Boot" BIOS menu, select the DVD drive and press + to move it to the top.
Save and exit the BIOS setup.

It will boot from DVD.
Enter "linux rescue".
You don't need any network interfaces.
Let it look for the installed system to mount under /mnt/sysimage.

chroot /mnt/sysimage
Replace hda with sda in /etc/fstab, /boot/grub/device.map and /boot/grub/grub.conf
grub-install /dev/sda

Make sure /etc/modules.conf is empty or non-existent.

Edit /etc/modprobe.conf and set
alias eth0 pcnet32
alias eth1 pcnet32
alias scsi_hostadapter mptbase
alias scsi_hostadapter1 mptscsih

Work out the full path to the initrd image you are going to rebuild. They are in /boot and are called initrd*.
The /boot/grub/grub.conf will point to the right one.
So in my example it is "/boot/initrd-2.6.18-128.7.1.el5xen.img".
There should be a directory under /lib/modules called the same version number.

Then you use a command like this to rebuild it
mkinitrd -v -f /boot/initrd-2.6.18-128.7.1.el5xen.img 2.6.18-128.7.1.el5xen


Press Esc to get the boot menu and force it to boot from the hard disk.
Hopefully it will boot this time!

Shut it down again, edit the VM settings and set the DVD drive back to "Client Device".
Boot your VM normally.