VCPaul
Contributor
Contributor

ESX Server 3i - USB flash drive boot possible!

I successfully booted ESX Server 3i from a USB flash drive on a machine with no local disks attached. It´s unsupported, but it works!

Requirements:

  • 1 GB USB flash drive

  • WinImage

  • IZArc

Of course you can use your favourite tools and larger USB flash drives, but 1 GB is enough space for the boot image.

Perform the following steps to create a bootable ESX Server 3i USB flash drive:

  1. Download ESX Server 3i Installable ISO

  2. Extract INSTALL.TGZ from the root directory of the ISO image using an IZArc

  3. Extract /usr/lib/vmware/installer/VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd.bz2 from INSTALL.TGZ using IZArc

  4. Extract VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd from VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd.bz2 using IZArc

  5. Attach the USB flash drive and make sure you no longer need the data on it

  6. Use WinImage to transfer VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd to the USB flash drive

    1. Disk->Restore Virtual Hard Disk image on physical drive...

    2. Select the USB flash drive (Warning: If you select the wrong disk you will lose data!)

    3. Select the image file VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd

    4. Confirm the warning message

    5. Wait for the transfer to complete

  7. Unplug the USB flash drive (Warning: If you forget to unplug the flash drive from the PC you might lose the data on your hard drives the next time you boot!)

  8. Attach the USB flash drive to the machine you want to boot (Warning: If ESX Server 3i recognizes local drives, you might lose the data on it, so make sure you don´t need it anymore or unplug all hard drives!)

  9. Turn the machine on and make sure the USB flash drive is selected as boot device

  10. Watch ESX Server 3i boot

  11. Configure

  12. Enjoy!

I cannot be held responsible for any damage or loss of data this procedure might cause.

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46 Replies
Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

If the NIC isn't coming up it's likely that ESX doesn't have a driver entry for it. Do you know the model you're using and optionally the device ID?

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

The shell option has been dropped.

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

Hi Norman, ESX only supports a limited number of NICs. Do you have an Intel PRO/1000 card you could add to your server?

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beyondxnet
Contributor
Contributor

Hi Dave,

thanks for your help. I could add an Intel Pro for this purpose. Currently I am using a Marvell Yukon 88E8055 PCI-E Gigabit. Just thought one could add a driver manually. If there´s a solution just let me know please. I´ll try an Intel Pro meanwhile.

Regards

Norman

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

The driver would have to be written specifically for ESX. Some drivers are ported from Linux ones, but the ESX kernel is not based on Linux so one can't add just any driver. ESX ships with 8 different drivers (see page 21 - ) so if one has a card that can load one of the drivers then the card will likely work. Unless the Marvell card were based on an Intel / Broadcom/ etc chipset, then you won't be able to get it to work.

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einstein-a-go-g
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I've tried Epox and Gigabyte motherboards to no avail, but it did work on a Panasonic ToughBook, booted but no supported network card, but I've found a Viglen workstations works fine!

Boots and recognises the network card!

I've also found that the following motherboards boot from USB okay and network is supported. (up to 1G networking), But having a few issues setting up local SATA storage using SATA ICH7 controller

Intel® Desktop Board D945GTP

Intel® Desktop Board DQ965GF

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jdanbreeze
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Just a bit of information on my experiences with this process...

I have got the latest build (70348) working and booting from USB on a HP DL385 G2 server. Using the external USB port on the front.

However, it only works if the external USB port speed is configured to 1.1 in the BIOS. It will not boot fully if the USB port speed is set to 2.0 - it complains about not being able to see the storage. The same thing happens on the internal USB port - which I guess must be permanently configured to be USB 2.0.

James

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Smeagol
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Personally I think something like a Thecus cheapo NAS/NFS device would be ideal. 2 x Dual Core Desktop PC's with supported NIC's and there you go. Nice little home cluster setup with DRS and HA to play with.. assuming you have licenses or limited eval.

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Cr0n_J0b
Contributor
Contributor

has anyone yet figured out what this means:

Cannot get bank 1 paramaters.

Warning: Bank 1 partition type invalid. Ignoring.

Cannot get bank 2 paramaters.

Warning: Bank 2 partition type invalid. Ignoring.

Panic: No useable banks found.

Not sure what a paramater is, but i haven't seen reference to this error anywhere.

Has anyone figured out a way to work around this?

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Texiwill
Leadership
Leadership

Hello,

Moved to the ESXi forum.


Best regards,

Edward L. Haletky

VMware Communities User Moderator

====

Author of the book 'VMWare ESX Server in the Enterprise: Planning and Securing Virtualization Servers', Copyright 2008 Pearson Education.

CIO Virtualization Blog: http://www.cio.com/blog/index/topic/168354

As well as the Virtualization Wiki at http://www.astroarch.com/wiki/index.php/Virtualization

--
Edward L. Haletky
vExpert XIV: 2009-2022,
VMTN Community Moderator
vSphere Upgrade Saga: https://www.astroarch.com/blogs
GitHub Repo: https://github.com/Texiwill
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ocremel
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

There are two boot banks that the bootloader looks at. It will try to ascertain which one to boot from. In your case, both appear defective. Is it a fresh install ?

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lnxnut
Contributor
Contributor

Could you give me the command to use on Linux to flash the VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-70348.i386.dd to the USB drive?

I know that I should be using "dd" but what switches should I use to not corrupt the partition table on the USB - drive?

Thanks,

Rick

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brunne
Contributor
Contributor

Works fin for me also until going to configure. I cannot edit the management network.

What about the serial number. Where i can put it into the esxi.

Im working with the free version.

Thanks in advance,

Erik

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

You may not have a supported NIC. Do you know the model that you have?

You'll enter the license serial number through the VI client, but you'll need to get your networking in place first.

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brunne
Contributor
Contributor

Tanks Dave,

there is an Realtek RTL8168 PCI-E GB ETH Nic into. Should this work??

Thanks,

Erik

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

Realtek devices (PCI vender ID 10ec) are not in the PCI database for ESXi and thus won't be recognized. I use an Intel Pro /1000 GT in my white boxes. You might try other Intel / Broadcom NICs if you have them around.

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brunne
Contributor
Contributor

Dave,

i have tryed also an 3Com GB Nic with no success.

Will look for an Intel Nic tomorrow Smiley Happy).

Good night,

Erik

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sheetsb
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I know that the BL465c and BL465c G5s also have internal USB ports for this. I'm not sure, but I believe all the HP Blades have internal USB ports.

Bill S.

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davedude
Contributor
Contributor

I believe they do yes... Right now I am working wih old HP servers and a laptop so my trial an error for unsupported harware is ongoing. lol - however it is fun

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brunne
Contributor
Contributor

Ich bin zur Zeit nicht im Büro. Bitte wenden Sie sich in dringenden Fällen an Hr. Röckert (030-60095-425).

Mit freundlichem Gruß,

Erik Brunne

>>> communities-emailer 17.08.2008 14:38 >>>

,

A new message was posted in the thread "ESX Server 3i - USB flash drive boot possible!":

http://communities.vmware.com/message/1025801

Author : davedude

Profile : http://communities.vmware.com/people/davedude

Message:

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