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Install ESXi on USB

Installing ESXi 5.0 on a supported USB flash drive or SD flash card
Installing ESXi Installable onto a USB drive or SD flash card
Download ESXi Installable ESXi 4.1 Update 1 (login credentials required)
VMware support for USB/SD devices used for installing VMware ESXi
From the last kb article, the support for installation on USB devices is restricted to a few configurations:

You can install ESXi to a USB or SD flash storage device directly attached to the server. This option is intended to allow you to gain experience with deploying a virtualized server without relying on traditional hard disks. However, VMware supports this option only under these conditions:

    The server on which you want to install ESXi is listed on the VMware Compatibility Guide.


    You have purchased a server with ESXi Embedded on the server from a certified vendor.


    You have used a USB or SD flash device that is approved by the server vendor for the particular server model on which you want to install ESXi on a USB or SD flash storage device. 

If you intend to install ESXi on a USB or SD flash storage device while ensuring VMware support for it and you have not purchased a server with Embedded ESXi, consult your server vendor for the appropriate choice of a USB or SD flash storage device.

I tested the installation for this on a unsupported USB device:

Used media: VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.1.0.update1-348481.x86_64.iso Used USB: SMI USB Disk Device - not supported brandless USB key, 1 GB

Pre Installation Tasks

  • Enable booting from USB in the BIOS (SETUP (F1)).
  • Disable unused boot methods in the BIOS (Boot Manager).


Installation method is slightly different from ESX. During the installation you only have to decide on which media ESXi is installed, and since the servers are equipped without internal hard disks there is only one media available, the USB stick that you inserted in the server, that is quite an easy choice. After the installation remove the CDROM and reboot the server.

Post Installation Tasks

When the installation is done you should perform the following two steps from the system console:

  • Change the root password
  • Configure the management network

When you've accomplished those two steps you can connect the server in your vCenter server and configure the network, storage etc.

Note: If you have multiple servers with the same configuration you could simply insert the USB device into another server and boot it. No problem ;)
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installesxionusb.txt · Last modified: 2013/04/20 13:07 by sjoerd