Create a bootable VMware ESXi 5 USB stick in Windows and perform a scripted installation

Here is a simple procedure to make a bootable VMware ESXi 5 or ESXi 6 USB stick in Windows and perform a scripted unattended VMware ESXi installation. The 5 steps are:

Step 1

Be sure removing all partitions and format a FAT32 partition on the USB stick by using the following command:

Open the command prompt and enter the following commands:

diskpart (make sure you run diskpart as administrator) 
list disk (list the disk in your system including the USB) 
select disk USB number 
create partition primary 
format fs=fat32 quick

Step 2

Download the Windows LinuxLive USB creator utility here.

Step 3

Start the Lili USB creator utility.



Follow the steps 1,2,4 and click 5 to create the USB stick. Wait till the USB creation process is finished. So now you have a bootable ESXi stick. You can stop here if you you want to install ESXi with manual installation steps.   

Step 4

Edit the BOOT.CFG file in the root of the USB stick and add ks=usb between /b.b00 and — /useropts.gz modules

The BOOT.CFG should look like this:

title=Loading ESXi installer 
modules=/b.b00 ks=usb --- /useropts.gz --- /k.b00 --- /a.b00 --- /ata-pata.v00 --- /ata-pata.v01 --- /ata-pata.v02 --- /ata-pata.v03 --- /ata-pata.v04 --- /ata-pata.v05 --- /ata-pata.v06 --- /ata-pata.v07 --- /block-cc.v00 --- /ehci-ehc.v00 --- /s.v00 --- /weaselin.i00 --- /ima-qla4.v00 --- /ipmi-ipm.v00 --- /ipmi-ipm.v01 --- /ipmi-ipm.v02 --- /misc-cni.v00 --- /misc-dri.v00 --- /net-be2n.v00 --- /net-bnx2.v00 --- /net-bnx2.v01 --- /net-cnic.v00 --- /net-e100.v00 --- /net-e100.v01 --- /net-enic.v00 --- /net-forc.v00 --- /net-igb.v00 --- /net-ixgb.v00 --- /net-nx-n.v00 --- /net-r816.v00 --- /net-r816.v01 --- /net-s2io.v00 --- /net-sky2.v00 --- /net-tg3.v00 --- /ohci-usb.v00 --- /sata-ahc.v00 --- /sata-ata.v00 --- /sata-sat.v00 --- /sata-sat.v01 --- /sata-sat.v02 --- /sata-sat.v03 --- /scsi-aac.v00 --- /scsi-adp.v00 --- /scsi-aic.v00 --- /scsi-bnx.v00 --- /scsi-fni.v00 --- /scsi-hps.v00 --- /scsi-ips.v00 --- /scsi-lpf.v00 --- /scsi-meg.v00 --- /scsi-meg.v01 --- /scsi-meg.v02 --- /scsi-mpt.v00 --- /scsi-mpt.v01 --- /scsi-mpt.v02 --- /scsi-qla.v00 --- /scsi-qla.v01 --- /uhci-usb.v00 --- /tools.t00 --- /imgdb.tgz --- /imgpayld.tgz 


Step 5

Create a Kickstart configuration file for the scripted installation in the root of the USB stick. Here is an example:

#Sample kickstart scripted installation
rootpw VMw@re
install --firstdisk --overwritevmfs
network --bootproto=static --ip= --gateway= --nameserver= --netmask= --hostname=esxi5-01.beerens.local --device=vmnic0 --addvmportgroup=0

%firstboot --interpreter=busybox
# Rename local datastore name
vim-cmd hostsvc/datastore/rename datastore1 "$(hostname -s)-local-storage-1"
# DNS names
esxcli system hostname set --fqdn=esxi5-01.beerens.local
esxcli network ip dns search add --domain=beerens.local
# DNS server addresses
esxcli network ip dns server add --server=
esxcli network ip dns server add --server=
# SSH and ESXi shell
vim-cmd hostsvc/enable_ssh
vim-cmd hostsvc/start_ssh
vim-cmd hostsvc/enable_esx_shell
vim-cmd hostsvc/start_esx_shell

For editing and creating the boot.cfg and ks.cfg file in Windows I use Notepad++ so NO hidden carriage returns are in the files. And the USB stick creation in ready.

An easy way to test the ESXi 5 USB stick and the scripted installation  is using VMware Workstation. See my post “Boot from USB in VMware Workstation” found here.


William Lam’s blog has real good information about Kickstart scripts found here.