Saturday, May 7, 2016

Installing ESXi onto a USB Flash Drive with VMWare Workstation

Installing ESXi on a USB Flash Drive is almost a must so you don’t waste any precious disks on the actual ESXi operating system.  In addition, its low power as you don’t need to spin up any disks, this way your ESXi hosts can be completely disk-less to reduce the list of possible failures on your host.  

  1. Ensure you have your USB Flash Disk plugged into your physical host.  A USB Flash Disk over 4 GB is required, 16GB is recommended by VMWare.
  2. Create a new VM in VMWare Workstation.  You can press CTRL+N for quick access to the “New Virtual Machine Wizard”.

  1. Select the option “Typical (recommended)” and click on “Next”.
  1. Point to the location on your physical host where you have the VMWare ESXi hypervisor ISO stored.

5. Name the VM and select a location on your physical host where you will store the VM files.

  1. You can leave the defaults for the disk capacity as we will not be installing anything on the virtual disk.

  1. On the “Ready to Create Virtual Machine” screen click on “Customize Hardware…”.

8. Change your “Network Adapter” to “Bridged” networking.  Click “Close”.

  1. Click on “Finish” to complete the Wizard.

  1. On the toolbar of VMWare Workstation click on “VM”, then “Removable Devices”, and find your removable drive and select “Connect (Disconnect from host)”.

  1. At the ESXi installation prompt press “Enter” and then “F11”.

  1. Hopefully you should now see your USB Flash Disk as an option to install ESXi on.  Select your USB and hit “Enter” to continue.

13. Hit “Enter” once more to acknowledge the wiping of all data on this disk.

  1. Choose your default keyboard layout and hit “Enter”.

  1. Enter a root password for ESXi and hit “Enter”.

  1. Finally hit “F11” once more to start the installation.

  1. Once the installation completes press “Enter” to reboot the VM.

Congratulations, ESXi is now installed on your USB Flash Drive.  You can shut down the guest VM, delete it from your physical host, and then unplug the USB Flash Drive from your physical host and plug it into your ESXi box for booting.  

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