Why would my new CentOS Virtual Machine not start the interface
eth0 on startup?
I have to start it manually every time.
How can I fix this?
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Regarding CentOS6 not enabling the network interface by default: it (in the GUI installer, at least) does its very best to prevent the interface from being set up properly, but this can be defeated via a checkbox that's hidden a couple dialogs deep from the main flow.
On the screen where you enter the hostname, the "Configure Network" button at the bottom takes you to a "Network Connections" dialog. Select
eth0, then the "Edit" button takes you to an "Editing System eth0" dialog, which has a "Connect automatically" checkbox. If you leave this box unchecked, you get
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0; if you check it, you get
ONBOOT="yes". I don't know if the checkbox affects any other configs, but I've yet to notice any different behavior. Why the box isn't checked by default, I can't begin to imagine.