pbraren
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

ESXi3.5 Update 2 Build 110271 (Aug 13) install on USB key - here's an informal USB HCL, and a tip on later re-formatting for re-use of the USB key

lberc posted a clear doc version of the method for extracting the image from the iso, so you can create a USB key for ESXi.

http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-6824

If you wish to re-use the USB key when done testing ESXi, I've found this Panasonic SDFormatter tool invaluable:

since Vista or XP won't let me reclaim the full capacity of the USB key.

In it, it's mentioned that non-U3 drives are fine (section 8 of the word doc). Indeed, my experience confirms that observation:

Brand

Name

Size

U3 capability?

Apparent Compability with ESXi 3.5 Update 2 August 13 2008 Build 110271

Kingston


1GB

NO

YES

PNY

Attache

1GB

NO

YES

PNY

Attache

2GB

NO

YES

SanDisk

cruzer micro

2GB

YES

NO

SanDisk

cruzer micro

1GB

YES

NO

They all take about 6-10 minutes to boot, though, about 3-5 times longer than off a typical HDD.

Anybody know of a cheap USB key that boots considerably faster?

Anybody know what lberc is hinting one should do for wear leveling? (see the excerpt from the doc, pasted below)

"The USB flash disk should be wear-leveled or use other technologies that enable the drive to extend flash media lifespan using cells from the unpartitioned portion of the key."

TinkerTry.com
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2 Replies
nick_couchman
Immortal
Immortal

A couple of things:

1) Is 6-10 minutes to boot really that bad? I know that 3-5 times longer than normal HD boot is a pretty significant increase, but VMware didn't really intend ESXi to be booted very often, so in the grand scheme of things, this isn't all that long. Also, verify that the USB key you're using and the MB you're using is actually accessing at USB 2.0 speeds. I boot a couple of machines off a USB 2.0 stick and they don't take anywhere near 6-10 minutes to boot - 1-2 minutes, maybe. I did have one issue with one motherboard that didn't correctly load the EHCI driver, so it loaded the USB controller at USB 1.1. This one did take about that long to boot.

2) One thing you run into with flash drives is a limited number of writes to the chip. Booting an enterprise-level computer that's going to be running (possibly) mission-critical VMs from a USB flash device is all well and good, but if the O/S is stored on a flash drive and you wear out that flash drive quickly, it could lead to big problems in the future. The technology is there to keep pieces of the chip from wearing out sooner than others, which can lead to failure of the drive more quickly, and make sure that all areas are being flashed the same number of times so that one part of the chip doesn't fail before the rest of them. I don't know how you would manually do this, but he refers to the technologies available to "replace" used portions of the USB key with unused portions in order to wear it evenly. I don't know which devices feature this technology, but I imagine their data sheets feature it quite prominently.

Also, I assume bu "U3" you mean "USB 3"? It took me a few minutes to figure out that that was what you meant - if wasn't readily obvious. Please advise if you mean something else besides USB 3.

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jasonlitka
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

A couple of things:

1) Is 6-10 minutes to boot really that bad? I know that 3-5 times longer than normal HD boot is a pretty significant increase, but VMware didn't really intend ESXi to be booted very often, so in the grand scheme of things, this isn't all that long. Also, verify that the USB key you're using and the MB you're using is actually accessing at USB 2.0 speeds. I boot a couple of machines off a USB 2.0 stick and they don't take anywhere near 6-10 minutes to boot - 1-2 minutes, maybe. I did have one issue with one motherboard that didn't correctly load the EHCI driver, so it loaded the USB controller at USB 1.1. This one did take about that long to boot.

2) One thing you run into with flash drives is a limited number of writes to the chip. Booting an enterprise-level computer that's going to be running (possibly) mission-critical VMs from a USB flash device is all well and good, but if the O/S is stored on a flash drive and you wear out that flash drive quickly, it could lead to big problems in the future. The technology is there to keep pieces of the chip from wearing out sooner than others, which can lead to failure of the drive more quickly, and make sure that all areas are being flashed the same number of times so that one part of the chip doesn't fail before the rest of them. I don't know how you would manually do this, but he refers to the technologies available to "replace" used portions of the USB key with unused portions in order to wear it evenly. I don't know which devices feature this technology, but I imagine their data sheets feature it quite prominently.

Also, I assume bu "U3" you mean "USB 3"? It took me a few minutes to figure out that that was what you meant - if wasn't readily obvious. Please advise if you mean something else besides USB 3.

He didn't mean USB 3, he meant U3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3

As to a faster USB stick, try these. After using the BitSwitcher feature in the Lexar BootIt tool they boot on my Dell PE2900 systems without any BIOS changes and are considerably quicker than the Lexar JumpDisk I was using to test. I can't say I've timed it but I know it's a LOT faster than 6-10 minutes. Excluding POST I'd say no more than 2 minutes.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820609267

Jason Litka

Jason Litka http://www.jasonlitka.com
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