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ESX host boot process fails to complete with a Kernel panic error (1002476)

Details

When an ESX host reboots, you may experience these symptoms:
  • The boot process fails to complete
  • You see the error: 

    Kernel panic: No init found. Try passing init= option to the kernel.

Solution

This issue may occur if the boot loader is not configured properly.
 
ESX 3.x uses Grand Unified Bootloader (GRUB) as the boot loader. The file /boot/grub/grub.conf contains the definitions that GRUB uses to boot your host.
 
For example:
Title VMware ESX Server
root (hd0,0)
uppermem 277504
kernel --no-mem-option /vmlinuz-2.4.21-47.0.1.ELvmnix ro root=UUID=adc9efbf-94ac-44c9-9b84-24833fce3e4e mem=272M
initrd /initrd-2.4.21-47.0.1.ELvmnix.img
 
The root keyword in the kernel line indicates (using the LABEL, UUID, or the block device) where the ESX console is installed. In this example, it uses the UUID of the system disk. To resolve this issue, you must configure GRUB to use the block device instead of the LABEL or UUID.
 
Note: The dumpe2fs command can be used to view the Label and UUID of a block device. See the dumpe2fs man page for more information.

Configuring GRUB

To configure GRUB to use the block device:
 
Note: To perform these steps, you must know the block device of the root filesystem (/dev/sda2 in a default install, /dev/cciss/c0d0p2 for an HP server). For more information, see Determining the block device.
  1. Reboot the ESX host.
  2. When the GRUB screen displays, pause the boot sequence by pressing the space bar.

    Note: The GRUB screen has 3 boot options.

  3. Highlight VMware ESX Server.
  4. Press e to edit.
  5. Highlight the kernel line.
  6. Press e to edit.
  7. Delete the UUID or LABEL in the root option and replace it with the block device. The result appears similar to:

    kernel --no-mem-option /vmlinuz-2.4.21-47.0.1.ELvmnix ro root=/dev/cciss/c0d0p2 mem=272M

  8. Press Enter to accept the changes.
  9. Press b to boot.
  10. If the system boots properly, edit the root option in /boot/grub/grub.conf to use the block device.
  11. If the system still fails to boot, you may have to perform a reinstallation of ESX (without repartitioning or formatting). Before you perform a reinstallation:
  • Verify that you used the correct block device
  • Verify that you do not have an underlying hardware issue

Determining the block device

Note: For GRUB, hard disks are are denoted by hd, device numbering starts from 0, partition numbering starts from 0, and complete device names are enclosed in parentheses.
 
To determine the block device:
  1. Reboot the ESX host.
  2. When the GRUB screen displays, pause the boot sequence by pressing the space bar.

    Note: The GRUB screen has 3 boot options.

  3. Press e and write down the first root line (the hard drive).

    For example:

    root (hd0,0)

  4. Press c to access the GRUB command line.
  5. At the grub> prompt, run the command:

    cat (hd0,0)/grub/device.map

    The output appears similar to:

    # this device map was generated by anaconda
    (fd0) /dev/fd0
    (hd0) /dev/cciss/c0d0


  6. Run the command:

    find /sbin/init

    The output appears similar to:

    (hd0,1) ---> partition # 2

    In this example, the system uses /dev/cciss/c0d0 as the boot drive, and the root is at partition 2. Therefore, the root device is /dev/cciss/c0d0p2.

    If your system uses /dev/sda as the boot drive, and the root is at partition 2, the root device is /dev/sda2.

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