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6Jun/110

Installing ESXi 4.1 on a Whitebox

Installing ESXi 4.1 on a Whitebox:


* System: Gigabyte EP45-DS3L with Intel Core2Duo Quad Q6600. (no VT-d implementation on NB)
* NIC: RTL8139 onboard
* Raid: 3ware 9650 PCIe x4 4-port version.

1) Make a bootable installation USB-pen/drive. [1] I used a 320gb usb 5400rpm drive from some laptop.

2) Format it with fat32.
3) Get Syslinux, not the version 4, but an older version. I used 3.86 from here [2] Version 4 can give you an error on boot, "invalid c32 image".
4) Run syslinux: syslinux.exe -m -f -a S: (S: being the drive letter).
6) Extract the iso, copy contents to usb drive
7) Rename isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg.

8 ) Add custom drivers to boot-disc

9) Identify the drivers you need, and get them. You may need to find vendor-id and device-id and do some googling. See this [4] page for a good list
10) Customize an oem.tgz file using the instructions here [5]
11) Copy oem.tgz to usb drive.
12) Modify syslinux.cfg to include loading the oem.tgz: add " --- oem.tgz" to the end of the following line:
append vmkboot.gz --- vmkernel.gz --- sys.vgz --- cim.vgz --- ienviron.vgz --- install.vgz

13) Optional: kickstart file. I had an issue with not being able to use my keyboard, so used a kickstart file.

13.1) Add a file called ks.cfg on the usb-drive with the following contents:
vmaccepteula
rootpw password
autopart --firstdisk --overwritevmfs
install usb
network --bootproto=dhcp --device=vmnic0
13.2) Modify the syslinux.cfg, add "ks=usb" after vmkboot.gz:
append vmkboot.gz ks=usb --- vmkernel.gz --- sys.vgz --- cim.vgz --- ienviron.vgz --- install.vgz --- oem.tgz

14) Add custom drivers to esxi installation.

15) Modify the oem.tgz on the running installation to include the drivers. This file is located in /bootbank/oem.tgz. I booted with a rescue disk, mounted the
root partition and copied the oem.tgz to another machine. THere i modified it using the same procedures as described in [5] and copied it back.

Links:

[1] http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/ESXi_USB_install.php
[2] http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/utils/boot/syslinux/3.xx/
[3] https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/index.php?p=free-esxi&lp=1
[4] http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/esx40_whitebox_HCL.php
[5] http://www.vm-help.com/esx/esx3i/customize_oem_tgz.php
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