Install ESXi 4.0 from a USB Pen

Normally I would install ESXi by burning the ISO to CD and install via CD, however I came across a server the other day that did not have a built-in CD drive, and no external USB CD drive was available.

Solution?

Run the ESXi installer from a USB pen!

What’s required:

  • USB Pen (at least 500mb in capacity).
  • ESXi 4.0 ISO.
  • SYSLINX Boot Loader (v3.86 worked for me).

In this example, USB pen drive letter is G:

  1. Insert and format the USB pen using FAT32.
  2. Download the following SYSLINX: http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/boot/syslinux/3.xx/syslinux-3.86.zip
  3. Extract the ZIP file.
  4. Open a command prompt window (right-click and Run As Admin).
  5. Navigate to the location of the extracted zip file EG cd c:\syslinux-3.86
  6. Navigate to the WIN32 folder: cd win32
  7. Type: syslinux -fma G:
  8. Once complete, extract the contents of the ESXi ISO file to the USB pen.
  9. Rename the following two file: isolinux.bin to syslinux.bin and isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg.
  10. Eject the USB pen and insert into the server.
  11. Boot from USB on the server and install ESXi.

The following websites were referenced:

http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/ESXi_USB_install.php

http://simon.rozman.si/computers/virtual/install-esxi4-from-usb-drive (very good!)

http://www.syslinux.org/wiki/index.php/The_Syslinux_Project

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