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!
1 GB USB flash drive
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:
Download ESX Server 3i Installable ISO
Extract INSTALL.TGZ from the root directory of the ISO image using an IZArc
Extract /usr/lib/vmware/installer/VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd.bz2 from INSTALL.TGZ using IZArc
Extract VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd from VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd.bz2 using IZArc
Attach the USB flash drive and make sure you no longer need the data on it
Use WinImage to transfer VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd to the USB flash drive
Disk->Restore Virtual Hard Disk image on physical drive...
Select the USB flash drive (Warning: If you select the wrong disk you will lose data!)
Select the image file VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0-67921.i386.dd
Confirm the warning message
Wait for the transfer to complete
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!)
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!)
Turn the machine on and make sure the USB flash drive is selected as boot device
Watch ESX Server 3i boot
I cannot be held responsible for any damage or loss of data this procedure might cause.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
Moved to the ESXi forum.
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
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?
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,
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.
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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>>> communities-emailer 17.08.2008 14:38 >>>
A new message was posted in the thread "ESX Server 3i - USB flash drive boot possible!":
Author : davedude