boyedav
Contributor
Contributor

install/boot to USB thumb/flash drive?

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I've looked at VMWare ESXi 3.5, and while the embedded version does have some appeal, I think I like the flexibility the full installable version gives me.

We're looking at buy new servers which have an internal USB port. Instead of buying hard drives upon which to install ESX, I'd like to install to and boot from an internal USB flash drive. However, I understand that isn't support (yet?).

HP, IBM, and Dell all appear to be selling servers now with internal USB ports. Does anyone know of plans for VMWare to add support for installing and booting with a USB flash drive?

Thanks!

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Finch
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

We're looking at buy new servers which have an internal USB port. Instead of buying hard drives upon which to install ESX, I'd like to install to and boot from an internal USB flash drive. However, I understand that isn't support (yet?).

... internal USB ports. ... Does anyone know of plans for VMWare to add support for installing and booting with a USB flash drive?

No need to wait for that Smiley Happy

Just take a look at this page:

http://www.veenema.net/index.php?Virtualization:HOW_TO%3A_Create_your_own_bootable_ESX_3i_usb_stick

I've just done this, uhh, yesterday g (and once last week) and it worked perfectly! It's a couple of steps, but it really very straightforward and only takes 5 - 10 minutes!

(for some reason, the image you need is wrapped in about four layers of compression. Other than that, you only need two steps: 1) extract file from downloaded installation iso 2) write image to USB drive)

We do have an Intel board with an internal USB-port. That's quite handy, but actually, almost all boards (?) have some extra USB-connectors (pins) that are usually used to connect some extra USB ports in the chassis. Even my "private" mainboard (which cost around 100 dollars) has four extra USB internal connectors. Take a look, maybe you already have them... but I guess the internal USB ports are not the main reason for buying new servers anyway Smiley Happy

Have fun!

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vmPUNK
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

i think that could be done now - they just show up as /dev/sdx anyways

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Texiwill
Leadership
Leadership

Hello

Thread moved to the ESXi 3.5 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 XIII: 2009-2021,
VMTN Community Moderator
vSphere Upgrade Saga: https://www.astroarch.com/blogs
GitHub Repo: https://github.com/Texiwill
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Finch
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

We're looking at buy new servers which have an internal USB port. Instead of buying hard drives upon which to install ESX, I'd like to install to and boot from an internal USB flash drive. However, I understand that isn't support (yet?).

... internal USB ports. ... Does anyone know of plans for VMWare to add support for installing and booting with a USB flash drive?

No need to wait for that Smiley Happy

Just take a look at this page:

http://www.veenema.net/index.php?Virtualization:HOW_TO%3A_Create_your_own_bootable_ESX_3i_usb_stick

I've just done this, uhh, yesterday g (and once last week) and it worked perfectly! It's a couple of steps, but it really very straightforward and only takes 5 - 10 minutes!

(for some reason, the image you need is wrapped in about four layers of compression. Other than that, you only need two steps: 1) extract file from downloaded installation iso 2) write image to USB drive)

We do have an Intel board with an internal USB-port. That's quite handy, but actually, almost all boards (?) have some extra USB-connectors (pins) that are usually used to connect some extra USB ports in the chassis. Even my "private" mainboard (which cost around 100 dollars) has four extra USB internal connectors. Take a look, maybe you already have them... but I guess the internal USB ports are not the main reason for buying new servers anyway Smiley Happy

Have fun!

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Paul_Lalonde
Commander
Commander

Hey Finch, these instructions are for 3i installable / embedded, which the original poster has already tried :smileyblush: . But thanks for the link anyway.

Personally, I've never tried to install ESX to a USB drive. I would imagine it's faintly possible. If you did get it to work, though, you'd likely encounter awful performance. This is because ESX is very heavy on writing logs and various checkpoints to the filesystem during normal use.

If you weren't able to install ESX onto a USB drive, you could always transfer it to a USB drive afterwards (ie. ghost it or 'dd' it from hard drive to USB drive). You'd likely have to re-create the initrd image to include the usb-storage and various helper kernel modules, but I think it would be doable.

I may try this myself down the road... but if you tackle it before then, let us know how you do!

Paul

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dnwhittaker
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Paul,

I have installed, and am currently running, ESXi 3.5 on 11 HP BL460c diskless blade servers. Each blade has a USB key provided by HP with ESXi 3.5 installed on it. The USB key is installed internally in the blade.

The reason I am using HP's USB key is for integration into HP SIM.

The only thing I haven't done is to try and patch the Host. Looking at trying that in the next week or so.

Hope that helps.