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Installing ESXi 5.x using the interactive installer (2004575)

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Purpose

ESXi 5.x has the ability to upgrade using the interactive CD/DVD method. The ESXi 5.x installer can now upgrade ESX/ESXi 4.x installations to ESXi 5.x while preserving VMFS partitions. This method was not available in previous versions of ESXi.

ESXi 5.x can be installed in several ways, and the interactive option is not the only method in upgrading your hosts. To ensure the best vSphere deployment for your environment, understand the options before beginning the installation. For more information, see:
ESXi 5.x is designed to accommodate a wide range of deployment sizes. Depending on the installation method you choose, different options are available for accessing the installation media and booting the installer when you perform your upgrade. This article outlines your options when performing an interactive installation.
 
Note: This article assumes that you have read the vSphere 5.0 documentation. The documentation contains definitive information. If there is a discrepancy between the documentation and this article, assume that the documentation is correct.

Resolution

Due to the amount of interaction that is necessary during the install, interactive installations of ESXi 5.x are recommended for small deployments of fewer than five hosts. When doing an interactive installation you have several options from which to boot the installer.
 
These boot media are supported for the ESXi installer:
  • Boot from CD/DVD
  • Boot from USB Flash Drive
  • PXE boot across the Network
You can also boot from a remote location using these applications:
  • HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO)
  • Dell Remote Access Card (DRAC)
  • IBM management module (MM)
  • Remote Supervisor Adapter II (RSA II)
ESXi 5.x uses the same installer for fresh installations and upgrades. If the installer finds an existing ESX/ESXi 4.x installation, it performs an upgrade. The ESXi installer also offers several options for preserving or discarding existing ESX host settings and VMFS datastores during an upgrade. 
 
Note: Due to differences between the ESX/ESXi 4.x and ESXi 5.x boot loaders, rolling back to ESX/ESXi 4.x after an upgrade to ESXi 5.x is not supported. For more information, see Cannot roll back ESXi 5.x installations after an upgrade (2004502).
 
When performing an interactive installation, keep these points in mind:
  • In a typical interactive installation, you boot the ESXi installer and respond to the installer prompts to install ESXi to the local host disk. You can also start an interactive installation and enter boot commands at the command line to perform a scripted installation.

  • The installer reformats and partitions the target disk and installs the ESXi boot image.

  • If you have not installed ESXi on the target disk before, all data located on the drive is overwritten, including hardware vendor partitions, operating system partitions, and associated data.

Note: To ensure that you do not lose any data, migrate the data to another machine before you install ESXi.

  • If you are installing ESXi on a disk that contains a previous installation of ESXi or ESX or a VMFS datastore, you are provided with options for migrating some host settings and preserving the VMFS datastore.

To perform an interactive installation:

  1. Set the server's BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM device or the USB flash drive. Every hardware manufacturer has different requirements to launch the BIOS as well as hardware requirements for booting off devices, see Checking BIOS levels to ensure compatibility with ESX/ESXi (1037257).

  2. Insert the ESXi installer CD/DVD into the CD/DVD drive, or attach the installer USB flash drive and restart the machine.

  3. The installer checks for custom boot command line options. This is an option if you want to install from a kickstart script. However, by default the installer runs in interactive mode.

    Note: A custom kickstart script is beyond the scope of this article. For more information on performing scripted installations,  see Deploying ESXi 5.0 using the Scripted Install feature (2004582).

  4. The ESXi 5.x installation process begins. It loads kernel modules as well as drivers. Basic modules are loaded first, then drivers to access the system hardware.

  5. When you see the welcome screen, press Enter to continue.

  6. Ensure that you read and understand the End User License Agreement (EULA). Press F11 to accept the EULA and continue.

  7. The installer detects the disks available for installation. The installer attempts to mount any pre-existing partitions on the disks detected. 

  8. In the Select a Disk screen, select the disk drive on which to install ESXi and press Enter to continue.
  9. If you are installing on a disk with a previous ESXi or ESX installation or VMFS datastore, the installer provides these choices: 
    • If the installer finds an existing ESX or ESXi installation, you can choose to Migrate, which migrates some existing host settings and configuration files. 
    • If the installer finds an existing VMFS datastore, you can choose to Preserve VMFS datastore.

      Note: If you choose this option, you cannot roll back to the previous VMFS datastore state after installation. Back up the datastore before proceeding. Sometimes, an existing VMFS datastore cannot be preserved. In this case, you can choose to proceed (which overwrites the existing VMFS datastore) or to cancel the installation. Ensure that any virtual machines located on the VMFS that are on the datastore are backed up or migrated.

  10. When asked to select the Keyboard Layout, VMware recommends choosing Default.

  11. Enter a root password. VMware does not recommend leaving this blank.

  12. The installation will begin, and usually takes around 15 minutes, depending on your server hardware.  If there any errors or warning this will be posted during the installation. 

    When the installation is complete, remove the installation CD/DVD, and press Enter to reboot the host. 

    Note: During the reboot VMFS partitions are created on the host disk.

  13. Your installation is complete. You may be presented with the message:

    Warning: DHCP lookup failed. You may be unable to access this system until you customize its networking configuration.

    If you receive this message, press F2 and configure your network (IP Address, Subnet mask, Gateway).

Additional Information

For detailed information on performing an installation or upgrade of ESXi 5.x, see the vSphere Upgrade Guide.

Tags

interactive-install

See Also

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