Tuesday, 24 November 2009

VMware ESX 4: Install From USB



This took a bit of searching and a fair bit of trial and error, but here it is, how to install VMware ESX from a USB stick.









Requirements
  1. A copy of VMware ESX 4.  Download an evaluation copy from here (free VMware logon required)
  2. A copy of UNetbootin from here. UNetbootin allows you to create bootable Live USB drives for a variety of Linux distributions including VMware ESX 4.
  3. A USB stick.  Nothing special is required here, for example I've got a couple of really cheap 1Gb sticks that work just fine.

How To
  1. Format your USB stick using Windows format.  FAT32 file system is fine:

  2. Once format is complete, leave USB stick plugged in and start UNetbootin:

  3. Select "Diskimage" and locate your ESX 4 iso file.
  4. Select your USB drive.
  5. Click OK and let UNetbootin extract and copy the ESX 4 installation and boot sector files on the USB
  6. Close UNetbootin and open USB stick in Windows Explorer
  7. Open the file syslinux.cfg (located in the root of the USB) with Wordpad - NOT Notepad
  8. Add askmedia to the end of each text section.  For example:
label ubnentry0
menu label Install ESX in graphical mode
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M quiet

becomes:

label ubnentry0
menu label Install ESX in graphical mode
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M quiet askmedia

Or alternatively replace the complete contents of syslinux.cfg with this:

default vesamenu.c32
prompt 0
menu title CH ESX4 Update 1 USB
timeout 100

label unetbootindefault
menu label Install ESX in graphical mode
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M quiet askmedia

label ubnentry0
menu label Install ESX in text mode
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M text quiet askmedia

label ubnentry1
menu label ESX Scripted Install using USB ks.cfg
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M ks=usb quiet

label ubnentry2
menu label ESX Scripted Install to first disk
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M ks=file:///usr/lib/vmware/weasel/examples/ks-first-safe.cfg quiet

label ubnentry3
menu label ESX Scripted Install to first disk (overwrite VMFS)
kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz
append initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img vmkopts=debugLogToSerial:1 mem=512M ks=file:///usr/lib/vmware/weasel/examples/ks-first.cfg quiet

label ubnentry4
menu label ^Boot from first hard disk
kernel /ubnkern
append initrd=/ubninit

As you can see from the above, I've tweaked the boot menu to A) remove the "Default" entry B) Add a personalised boot menu title.

Save syslinux.cfg file back onto the USB and eject.

Easy and ESX installation is a lot quicker too!

- Chris

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