vSphere ESX4i on a USB key / Pen Drive
As soon as vSphere was put on General release I downloaded a copy of vSphere 4 ESXi for running on my home lab setup. I’ve only recently started my home lab and the first machine I purchased was the HP Proliant ML115 G5 server. This was following a recommendation by Kiwi Si over at www.techhead.co.uk who has extensively blogged about the suitability of the HP ML110 G5 and ML115 G5 for ESX labs.
If your interested in starting a home lab I can thoroughly recommend these HP server. Simon even has a deal going with ServersPlus.com (UK) for free delivery on either the HP ML110 or ML115 server. Get over to his hot deals page for further details.
Simon also has some great articles on getting ESXi 3.5 running from a USB pen drive. This was a perfect place for me to start as I wanted to take advantage of the ML115 G5′s internal USB port and boot my server from a USB pen drive. So where do you start?
For those of you using an Apple Mac and wanting to conduct this excercise, check out the following article over on Tom Rowan’s blog
What do I need?
A USB Pen Drive that is over 1GB in capacity – nice and cheap at amazon
Download the vSphere ESX4i ISO image from here
Download Shareware version of Winrar from here
Download Free Trial version of Winimage from here
How do I do it?
Once you have downloaded the ISO image open it up with WinRAR, make sure you use WinRAR as I had problems with WinZip and UltraISO
Double click on the image.tgz file to open the contents in WinRAR and drill down to the \usr\lib\vmware\installer directory.
Within this folder you will find a file called VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd.bz2. This is another zip file so double click on it and the contents will be displayed in a seperate WinRAR window.
Once inside extract the file VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd using WinRAR and copy it somewhere locally on your PC.
Now install and open up the WinImage trial that you downloaded at the start of this process.
Insert your USB key and then select Disk and restore virtual hard disk image on physical drive as per the screenshot below.
Select the physical USB drive from the list and click OK, when prompted for the virtual disk file navigate to the dd file you extracted to your local PC. This will now image your USB Key with the vSphere ESX4i hypervisor.
Once complete stick the USB key in a server / whitebox that supports 64 bit computing and away you go. The screenshot below shows my own HP Proliant ML115 G5 running vSphere ESX 4i and all this from a simple 2GB USB pen drive.