This is a cycling blog, but several people have asked how to rip an ESXi ISO so you can install it from a PXE server so I figure this is as good a place as any to dump the information.
ESXi Installable is VMware’s “thin hypervisor.” There’s no Linux, no Red Hat Anaconda scripting, and not much in the way of configuration or install options. You can modify the files in the ISO (I enable ssh, for example), but I won’t go into that in this document.
This document assumes familiarity with Linux and that a PXE boot server is already set up on a Linux machine.
1. Create a workspace for yourself where you’ll copy the ISO file and rip the contents. For example:
2. Grab the ESXi install ISO image from VMware and copy it to your workspace.
3. 3. Mount the ISO image, for example, if the name of the file is _esxi_installable.iso_:
mount -o loop ~/esxi-sandbox/esxi-installable.iso /mnt/esxiso
4. On your PXE server, make a space for your ESXi install files, for example (and this will vary depending on your specific environment):
5. Go to the mounted ISO directory and copy the files to your PXE directory. Using the example directory and mount point used before:
cp /mnt/esxiso/* /data/share/pxeboot/vmware/esxi/
All you really need are *.c32, vmkernel.gz, and *.tgz, but the other files are small if you’re lazy/sloppy and don’t want to delete them.
6. Modify your PXE configuration file so your PXE process can find the ESXi install files. In my installation, I have a file called vmware.conf to which I add a new label like so:
append vmware/esxi/vmkernel.gz --- vmware/esxi/binmod.tgz --- vmware/esxi/ienviron.tgz --- vmware/esxi/cim.tgz --- vmware/esxi/oem.tgz --- vmware/esxi/license.tgz --- vmware/esxi/install.tgz
Note that your “append” directive must include all of the *.tgz files that are in your ISO distribution. Apparently, these can sometimes change between different releases of ESXi so be careful.
7. Boot from your PXE server to test and it should all work out! Celebrate if you succeed, debug and retry if you don’t. Good luck!