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Cannot install VMware ESXi 4.1 "Unable to find the system image to install"

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Downloaded ESXi 4.1 iso, burned to a CD, booted CD, go through screens, hit F11 to install. Immediately get the following error:

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Installation operation failed!

The installation operation has encountered a fatal error:

Unable to find system image to install. This is due to the image not being mounted correctly or the CD-ROM not being supported.

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The hardware is a homebuilt system with Intel DQ35JO board, latest BIOS, Intel E6850 CPU, 8GB RAM, 2 SATA drives. I know this is not on the compatible list but is a "whitebox". I've installed ESXi 3.5 on it in the past and gotten it up and running, and I've seen other success stories with this board/CPU. Yes I enabled virtualization mode in the BIOS and powered down/up.

Here's what I've tried:

-- Redownload VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.1.0-260247.x86_64.iso to make sure it wasn't corrupt (2 copies compared perfectly)

-- Tried a different CDROM drive (IDE)

-- Created a bootable USB stick using uNetBootin 4.7.1 and booted from it

-- Switched SATA setting in BIOS from AHCI to IDE

I keep getting the exact same error. I've searched here and everywhere and find no reference to this error.

Help -- what do you all suggest for my next step?

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Did you have an earlier vSphere installed on your system?

I got the same error on my "white box" (actually it is black). I used to run esxi 4.0 (u2) on my Acer X3300 (6GB, Quad Core AMD Athlon II). The internal SATA controllor is not supported but this allows me to use the box for normal windows tasks and ESXi sits on a SDHC 4GB flash card.

When I booted my freshly burned ESX4.1 cdrom I got the same error. I suspected the fact that maybe there was an existing install on my destination drive (the flash card), and that the CD maybe couldn't perform an upgrade.

So I tried the upgrade path (first trying to host utility and getting the .xml error message). AFTER reading the manual, I performed the upgrade from 4.0 to 4.1 using the vMA appliance and I must say ESXi 4.1 runs magnificient on my white box.

So I suggest you try the upgrade and see how far that gets you.

Good luck (and a nice weekend)

Marino

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Immortal
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Your comparison, did it include running a checksum against the one posted on the download page.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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as I said the copies compared perfectly. I did not literally checksum but rather compared the two files bit-by-bit. The files are identical.

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Immortal
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as I said the copies compared perfectly. I did not literally checksum but rather compared the two files bit-by-bit. The files are identical.

Yes, but that doesn't eliminate Murhy's Law where the download is still bad. (Unlikely, yes, but....) You really should verify the checksum to completely eliminate that as a possibility. (And we can stop talking about that. Smiley Wink )

And it wasn't specifically mentioned, but did you burn another CD? Or did you just download a second time, compare the files, saw that they were the same so assumed that the burned copy must be ok.

Additionally, When I build whitebox servers like this, I often use recycled CD-ROM drives. But I'm finding that many of my older CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives are failing. So even though I swapped drives, I swapped in another bad one. Again, Murphy's law. Not saying that this is the case but if you have a third CD drive, it's a simple thing to do.

After that, perhaps try installing to a different machine. You don't have to actually erase the drives on this other machine. Just see if you get farther along on the installer. (Preferably use a blank hard drive, or pull the hard drives and install to a USB stick...just in case since it seems like Murphy may be meddling with your computer. Smiley Wink )

My point is that if you keep doing the same thing, and keep getting the same bad results, then you need to something different with whatever is still the same. (i.e.: same motherboard, same memory, same USB stick, same CD burner used to make the installer disk.)

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Fair enough, so here's what I've done.

-- did MD5 checksum of downloaded ISO, matches what's on download page.

-- burned new CD on different computer with different burner.

Still getting exact same error.

I don't think I have another motherboard/CPU combo that's ESXi 4.1 capable, so I can't try that. (I tried an older machine but it has no "turn on VT" option in the BIOS, and I tried installing it anyway, and it crashed right after "F11 install now".

Other suggestions? I really don't understand what's going on. As I said, I've run ESXi 3.5 on this same box in the past.

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Are you able to install an OS other than vSphere on the problem hardware?

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Did you have an earlier vSphere installed on your system?

I got the same error on my "white box" (actually it is black). I used to run esxi 4.0 (u2) on my Acer X3300 (6GB, Quad Core AMD Athlon II). The internal SATA controllor is not supported but this allows me to use the box for normal windows tasks and ESXi sits on a SDHC 4GB flash card.

When I booted my freshly burned ESX4.1 cdrom I got the same error. I suspected the fact that maybe there was an existing install on my destination drive (the flash card), and that the CD maybe couldn't perform an upgrade.

So I tried the upgrade path (first trying to host utility and getting the .xml error message). AFTER reading the manual, I performed the upgrade from 4.0 to 4.1 using the vMA appliance and I must say ESXi 4.1 runs magnificient on my white box.

So I suggest you try the upgrade and see how far that gets you.

Good luck (and a nice weekend)

Marino

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Yes, the box happily installed and is currently running Windows 7, which I would like to wipe out and replace with ESXi to virtualize my environment. I've also run Linux (Fedora) on it in the past and also last year I ran ESXi 3.5 on it for a short time. That is why I'm so puzzled about what's going on.

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Maybe you can try with installing esxi 4.0, and perform the upgrade afterwards? Maybe that will do the trick.

Because vSphere doesn't recognize my hardware I run on my client machine (older dual core Athlon-64, 4200+ with 2GB of ram), VMware workstation with an Iscsi virtual appliance, and the vMA machine.

I used the vMA appliance to do the upgrade. I have the feeling, but haven't tried it yet, that when I erase my flash card, esx 4.1 should install

(But to be on the safe side, I archived the 4.0 installer as well)

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Immortal
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There have been issues with certain SATA DVD drives. Check the BIOS to see if you have any setting options (emulate IDE??) Try using an external drive if you have one. Try installing ESXi to a USB stick.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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What do you mean by trying install ESXi 4.1to an USB stick? Build your own bootable usb key, or use the installer function?

I can tell that you that when you boot from the CD, and try to install on an usb device you get the same error. That's when I got the error.

I haven't tried if making your own bootable key solves the problem (upgrade solved my problem Smiley Happy )

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Immortal
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Try downloading the installer again.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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I'm also expreiencing the same problem on a white box. I've confirmed the ISO image matches the posted md5, and burned several CDs.

white box is a dell 745 sff. q6700 w/8gb mem.

I've attempted to install on usb stick and internal sata drive.

esxi 4.0 installed fine on this system.

This is in a home lab- I took today off to get it upgraded!

I'm also unable to get it upgraded for a differnet reason ( get "no space left on device")

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Immortal
Immortal

@MyDogHasFleas, I don't have the same MB, but I do have a similar Intel MB based on the 35 chipset & a Q6600 CPU. I'm going to try installing ESXi4.1 this weekend and let you know the results, if you don't figure out your problem before then.

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Immortal
Immortal

My results: ESXi4.1 260247 installs fine to a HP xw4400 workstation. Same CD fails installing to a whitebox Intel DP35DP motherboard and a DG43GT motherboard. Both of the Intel whiteboxes had ESXi4.0 171294 running on them. Install of ESXi4.0 was done directly on those machines without error. The failure of the 4.1 installer happens after the final time you press F11, after you've selected the destination drive. Fails regardless of whether the destination is a SATA drive or USB drive. Fails regardless of IDE/SATA mode of CD rom drives. (AHCI, IDE, Legacy.) I used several IDE CD & DVD drives. (I don't have any SATA CD/DVD drives.) So the ESXi4.1 260247 installer seems to have a problem with these Intel desktop motherboards.

The installer fails, however I am still able to run ESXi4.1 on the Intel motherboards if I installed using a different machine (in my case, the HP workstation,) then move the drive to the Intel system. But the DP35DP would only work with a SATA drive installation and failed booting from USB flash drive. (It just said "Boot error" on the screen.)

So to summarize:

HP xw4400 Workstation:

Fully worked with ESXi4.0 171294 & 4.1 260247.

Intel DP35DP:

Fully works with ESXi4.0 171294.

Install fails with ESXi4.1 260247.

Works with ESXi4.1 260247 preinstalled to SATA drive using onboard ICH9 SATA controller.

Fails to boot ESXi4.1 260247 preinstalled to USB flash drive.

Intel DG43GT:

Fully works with ESXi4.0 171294.

Install fails with ESXi4.1 260247.

Works with ESXi4.1 260247 preinstalled to SATA drive using onboard ICH10 SATA controller.

Works with ESXi4.1 260247 preinstalled to USB flash drive.

In cases where ESXi4.1 was preinstalled to a drive, then moved to the Intel motherboard, the NICs needed to be selected from ESXi's yellow config menus since the original installation was with non Intel NICs. Otherwise, there was nothing else that needed to be done to the moved installation.

@MyDogHasFleas, if you have another system that you can preinstall ESXi4.1 to then move the drive to your DQ35JO, it may work. However, since I don't have that exact same motherboard, it is still possible that ESXi4.1 still will not work for you. In which case you may want to try the previous ESXi4.0.

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Nice work. So I download ESXi 4.0 Update 1 and try to install, greeted with the lovely message after it tries to load the first module vmkboot.gz:

Fatal: not a multiboot kernel.

Then it goes into a reboot loop.

I give up, I'm going to bed. This machine is not destined to work. I'll try to think of something else to try.

Maybe I should go all the way back to 3.5???

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I'm having the same problem, I've downloaded the ESXi 4.1 ISO and i burnt it to CD.

I've managed to install it on a HP Proliant ML350 G4 and a ML350 G4p but i can't install it on the ML110 G6, it comes up with:

Unable to find the system image to install. This is due to the image not being mounted correctly or the CD-ROM not being supported.

I've tried a different DVD Rom

I've tried creating a Bootable USB Pendrive and installing it from that.

I've tried using a Smart Array E200, and also a P400 with RAID1 and with no Raid at all just on a single disk

I have installed ESXi 4.0 update 2, that works but not 4.1, and i no the CD is not dodgy because i used the same CD to install on the other ML350s i have.

Does anyone have a solution to this problem?

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Immortal
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I've managed to install it on a HP Proliant ML350 G4 and a ML350 G4p but i can't install it on the ML110 G6,...

Does anyone have a solution to this problem?

Read my post above again: install to a hard drive or USB drive using the machine you can install 4.1 on. Then move the drive to the other machine that the install fails on. Yes, it's only a workaround, not a solution. (The "real solution" is to use a system on the compatibility list. Smiley Wink )

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Or try the solution I mentiond: install an ESXi 3.5 or 4.0, and use a the remote CLI to perform an update to 4.1

(that one worked for me, and it gives you the opportunity to have some more CLI time with your environment Smiley Happy )

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Yes, the answer is to install ESXi 4.0 and then upgrade it using the vihostupdate.pl utility as documented in the "vSphere Upgrade Guide" for 4.1.

The ESXi 4.0 Update 1 image seems to be completely broken. It won't even boot giving the message "Fatal: Not a multiboot kernel."

Thanks all and I've handed out helpful and correct answers.

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