NathanAlbury
Contributor
Contributor

ESXi 5.1 installation - Installs without any problem, but no effect after reboot

I have a bit of an odd issue that I am hoping someone in the community can point me in the right direction on. 

Background: We have an older ESX host that is not part of our primary production ESXi cluster. It is mostly used for putting up test machines and other non-essential activities, and I have been asked to upgrade it to the most recent version. It is currently running ESXi 3.5. Rather than try to do sequential upgrades from 3.5 to 4.x then 4.x to 5.1, I decided it would be simpler to just do a fresh install of ESXi 5.1 and import the VMs afterward (I exported them out with VM Converter beforehand).

Problem: The install itself for 5.1 seems to go perfectly fine. I boot from the install disc, it detects an existing VMFS instance, which I tell it to overwrite, and the installation continues on its merry way until it completes and says it would like to reboot. However, after rebooting, the server goes right back into the old 3.5 version, with all the old settings - as if I hadn't done the install at all.

I'm new to ESX/ESXi and not sure what to make of this. Any guidance would be most appreciated. Smiley Happy

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5 Replies
a_p_
Leadership
Leadership

Welcome to the Community,

ESXi 5.x by default creates a GPT rather than an MBR partition table and I guess your system either does not support booting from GPT or needs a BIOS upgrade or setting to support it!?

If no BIOS setting is available you may reinstall ESXi 5 with an MBR partition table. To do so press "Shift-O" when  prompted and add "formatwithmbr" to the command line.

André

NathanAlbury
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the guidance, a.p. Smiley Happy

The BIOS is on a fairly old revision, so that sounds quite reasonable. I will give the formatwithmbr approach a shot first.

I think I may wipe the hard drive first as well, so that the installer doesn't get confused by any pre-existing instance of ESX or ESXi.

Will report back with my results.

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NathanAlbury
Contributor
Contributor

So far no luck. The formatwithmbr option seemed to run successfully, but with the same end result (reboots and comes up with the old version and settings).

I tried running a Boot and Nuke disc but it crashes, so I'm on to trying the BIOS upgrade (please shoot me now... heh).

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ldaprat
Contributor
Contributor

I tried the "formatwithmbr" option as well.   On ESXi 5.0, I needed this and it worked.

On 5.1, I used the option - install completed - but I still have the same problem reported here.


Even more interesting, if I enable UEFI boot - I do get the initial boot (with a later purple-screen, if I continue).  This tells me that the formatwithmbr option is being ignored.   More proof: if I boot from my device in this mode and press shift-O - the boot options clearly show a boot UUID.

Perhaps the formatwithmbr option has been removed in the ESXi 5.1 installer?

To test, I'm going to re-format with ESXi 5.0, which worked in the past.  Then, I'll try an upgrade rather than a clean install.

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NathanAlbury
Contributor
Contributor

The solution I discovered was trivial but quite annoying:

Apparently, this server must have originally been an ESX embedded appliance or something along those lines. The BIOS claimed to be booting from the drive I was installing ESXi to - but that was a heinous lie! The hard drive option in the BIOS boot order had an even deeper option to boot from some flash memory or some such nonsense, which is where the old install must have been located.

Once I finally discovered this, I simply disabled that flash card and everything went swimmingly.

It doesn't sound like thats what is happening for you, ldaprat, but I thought I would share just in case.

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