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Formatting a USB Flash Drive to Boot the ESXi 5.0 Installation or Upgrade


You can format a USB flash drive to boot the ESXi 5.0 installation or upgrade.


This procedure requires the ESXi 5.0 ISO image VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.0.0- XXXXXX.x86_64.iso, including the fileisolinux.cfg,where XXXXXX is the build number of the installer ISO image. You can download the ESXi 5.0 ISO image from the VMware Web site.
These instructions assume that you are performing the procedure on a Linux machine and that the USB flash drive is detected as/dev/sdb.

Note: The ks file containing the installation script cannot be located on the same USB flash drive that you are using to boot the installation or upgrade.
  1. Attach the USB flash drive to a Linux machine. 

  2. Create a partition table.
    /sbin/fdisk /dev/sdb
    1. Type d to delete partitions until they are all deleted.
    2. Type n to create primary partition 1 that extends over the entire disk.
    3. Type t to set the type to an appropriate setting for the FAT32 file system, such as c.
    4. Type a to set the active flag on partition 1.
    5. Type p to print the partition table.
      The result should be similar to the following text:
      Disk /dev/sdb: 2004 MB, 2004877312 bytes
      255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 243 cylinders
      Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
      Device    Boot  Start   End   Blocks    Id   System
      /dev/sdb1  *    1       243   1951866   c    W95 FAT32 (LBA)
    6. Type w to write the partition table and quit. 

  3. Format the USB flash drive with the Fat32 file system.
    /sbin/mkfs.vfat -F 32 -n USB /dev/sdb1

  4. Run the following commands.
    /path_to_syslinux-3.86_directory/syslinux-3.86/bin/syslinux /dev/sdb1
    cat /path_to_syslinux-3.86_directory/syslinux-3.86/usr/share/syslinux/mbr.bin > /dev/sdb

  5. Mount the USB flash drive.
    mount /dev/sdb1 /usbdisk

  6. Mount the ESXi installer ISO image.
    mount -o loop VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.0.0-XXXXXX.x86_64.iso /esxi_cdrom

  7. Copy the contents of the ISO image to /usbdisk.
    cp -r /esxi_cdrom/* /usbdisk

  8. Rename the isolinux.cfg file to syslinux.cfg.
    mv /usbdisk/isolinux.cfg /usbdisk/syslinux.cfg

  9. In the file /usbdisk/syslinux.cfg, change the line APPEND -c boot.cfg  to APPEND -c boot.cfg -p 1. 

  10. Unmount the USB flash drive.
    umount /usbdisk

  11. Unmount the installer ISO image.
    umount /esxi_cdrom

The USB flash drive can now boot the ESXi installer.

Based on VMware KB 2004510

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