Stateless VMware ESXi Server Version 3.5 Update 4 Using PXE Booting (1008971)
VMware Experimental Feature Support
PXE booting VMware ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 Installable is an experimental feature and is supported as such. For more information about VMware's support for experimental features, see http://www.vmware.com/support/policies/experimental.html.
Overview of PXE Booting
Benefits of PXE Booting
The main benefit of PXE booting ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 is that it allows you to run the deployment on systems with no disk or other local persistent storage. Furthermore, PXE booting greatly simplifies both the booting and upgrading processes. Therefore, scaling to many machines is greatly facilitated. No manual installation steps are necessary when the system is fully-realized.
This article assumes that you are able to configure a DHCP environment with PXE.
To PXE boot an ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 installation you need the following:
- A PXE Server (with TFTP)
- A server with a hardware configuration that is supported with ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 (refer to the Hardware Compatibility Guide for supported hardware configurations)
- Network security policies to allow TFTP traffic (UDP port 69).
A description of the configuration of the network policies and of DHCP with PXE servers is outside the scope of this article.
The following are the steps for PXE booting an ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 installation:
- Download the ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 Installable image into your PXE boot environment.
- From the image, extract the files as listed in this step to a directory of your choice.
You can extract the necessary files in many ways. An example of the extraction process is provided in Extracting ESXi Server Version 3.5 Update 4 Installable Image Files (1009034).
- Download and extract the latest version of the SYSLINUX files to the same directory as the ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 image files.
This step enables the remote ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 host to boot from these image files. Refer to the SYSLINUX/PXE Documentation for installation and configuration options.
- Modify the default file in the syslinux.cfg folder to create a boot menu for the remote ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 host that appears as follows:
menu title PXE Boot VMware ESXi
menu label Boot VMware ESXi
append vmkernel.gz PBHOST=PXE-BOOT-IP-ADDRESS:3333 — binmod.tgz — environ.tgz — cim.tgz — oem.tgz ipappend 2
menu label Boot from local drive
- Boot ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4 using DHCP with PXE, passing it the address for the configuration server.
If everything proceeds properly, the ESX Server starting screen appears on the new ESXi Server version 3.5 Update 4.