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Image Scope

There are two types of VM image resources, the ClusterVirtualMachineImage and VirtualMachineImage. The former is a cluster-scoped resource, while the latter is a namespace-scoped resource. Other than that, the two resources are exactly the same.

Image Names

Prior to vSphere 8.0U2, the name of a VM image resource was derived from the name of a Content Library item. For example, if a Content Library item was named photonos-5-x64, then its corresponding VirtualMachineImage resource would also be named photonos-5-x64. This caused a problem if there library items with the same name from different libraries. With the exception of the first library item encountered, all subsequent library items would have randomly generated data appended to their corresponding Kubernetes resource names to ensure they were unique. In vSphere 8.0U2+, with the introduction of the Image Registry API and potential for global image catalogs, image names needed to be both unique and deterministic, hence:


The above value is referred to as a VMI ID, where VMI stands for Virtual Machine Image. No matter the source of a VM image, all images have unique, predictable VMI IDs. If the source of a VM image is Content Library, then the VMI ID is constructed using the following steps:

  1. Remove any - characters from the Content Library item's UUID
  2. Calculate the sha1sum of the value from the previous step
  3. Take the first 17 characters from the value from the previous step
  4. Append the value from the previous step to vmi-

For example, if the Content Library item's UUID is e1968c25-dd84-4506-8dc7-9beacb6b688e, then the VMI ID is vmi-0a0044d7c690bcbea, for example:

  1. Remove any - characters: e1968c25dd8445068dc79beacb6b688e.
  2. Get the sha1sum: 0a0044d7c690bcbea07c9b49efc9f743479490e5.
  3. First 17 characters: 0a0044d7c690bcbea.
  4. Create the VMI ID: vmi-0a0044d7c690bcbea.

Name Resolution

When a VirtualMachine resource's field spec.imageName is set to a VMI ID, the value is resolved to the VirtualMachineImage or ClusterVirtualMachineImage with that name. It is also possible to specify images based on their display name.

Display name resolution

Please note that while resolving VM images based on their display name was merged into VM Operator with, the feature is not yet part of a shipping vSphere release.

For example, if vmi-0a0044d7c690bcbea refers to an image with a display name of photonos-5-x64, then a user could also specify that value for spec.imageName as long as the following is true:

  • There is no other VirtualMachineImage in the same namespace with that display name.
  • There is no other ClusterVirtualMachineImage with the same display name.

If the display name unambiguously resolves to the distinct, VM image vmi-0a0044d7c690bcbea, then a mutation webhook replaces spec.imageName: photonos-5-x64 with spec.imageName: vmi-0a0044d7c690bcbea. If the display name resolves to multiple or no VM images, then the mutation webhook denies the request and outputs an error message accordingly.

There are no restrictions on the images that can be deployed by VM Operator. However, for users wanting to try things out for themselves, here are a few images the project's developers use on a daily basis:

Image Arch Download
Photon OS 4, Rev 2 amd64 OVA
Photon OS 3, Rev 3, Update 1 amd64 OVA
Ubuntu 22.10 Server (Kinetic Kudo) amd64 OVA
Ubuntu 22.04 Server (Jammy Jellyfish) amd64 OVA

Bring your own image...

The above list is by no means exhaustive or restrictive -- we want users to bring their own images!