VMware – Installing ESXi 4 via PXE

VMware – Installing ESXi 4 via PXE


This article explains how to install VMware ESXi 4 over the network using PXE.

The infrastructure used for this article is a Centos 5.3 server with Tftp installed to provide the PXE server and a DD-WRT router running as the DHCP server with PXE options configured through DNSMasq.

Installation instructions for the Centos Tftp server and DD-WRT router are outside the scope of the article.


In order to install VMware ESXi 4 via PXE the following pre-requisites must be met :-

  • A copy of the  VMware ESXi 4 installation ISO
  • A DHCP server configured to provide the relevant PXE options
  • A Tftp server to provide the installation media
  • A 64 Bit architecture server

Copying the installation files to your PXE server

Once you’ve got the installation ISO mount the image and copy the contents to your PXE Server directory (On Centos /var/lib/tftpboot folder).  The following files should now be in your PXE Server directory :-


Modify the PXE Configuration file

Once the files have been copied to the PXE Server directory edit the PXE configuration file (On Centos /var/lib/tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg) and add the following lines :-

label Install ESXi 4
kernel mboot.c32
append vmkboot.gz — vmkernel.gz — sys.vgz — ienviron.tgz — cim.tgz — image.tgz — install.tgz

Test the implementation

Once the steps above have been performed test the installation by network booting the target machine and the VMware ESXi 4 installation should start.