A couple of days ago I wanted to test VMware ESXi 5.5 on a Mac Pro 4,1 (quad-core XEON 2.66GHz / 8GB RAM). I had a couple of issues doing this, mostly my fault as, of course, I jumped straight in and didn’t read any of the documentations. Anyway, once I had read the documentation there were still a few things not covered, so I thought I would document the steps I took to get the platform installed:
- First Off you have to get the installer files from the vmware site – the UK portal is www.vmware.com/uk – you’ll have to make an account on the site but no billing information is needed, and it only takes a couple of minutes, so it’s all good. The installer files are packaged in a .iso files and the whole image is about 400MB.
- Get your USB key – as the source files are so small a 512MB or 1GB key is sufficient.
- Next, format the USB key with a Master Boot record partition map and a FAT32 file system. Although you can do this through Terminal (man diskutil to find out more), the quickest way is to use Disk Utility:
- Next, open Terminal, located in the /Applications/Utilities folder.
- In Terminal, type in ‘diskutil list’ and hit enter to see all of the volumes mounted on your system. Find the system designated name for the USB key – You will know which disk it is by looking at the sizes of all of the volumes and the volume name. In my case the USB key is called ‘ESXI’ and has the designation ‘/dev/disk2’, as you can see in the image below:
- We’ll now have to use the fdisk command to flag the USB key’s partition as bootable, but to do that you’ll have to first unmount the USB key from the system. In Terminal type ‘diskutil unmount /dev/DISKNUMBER’ (as above). If the command works you’ll get a Terminal confirmation that the volume has been unmounted.
- Next, enter fdisk’s interactive mode and select the desired volume – you can do this with ‘fdisk -e /dev/disk2’
- At the fdisk interactive prompt type ‘f 1’ to flag the first partition on the volume as active and bootable. Follow these commands with ‘write’ and next ‘quit’ to leave fdisk. If at any point you get an error, make sure the volume has been unmounted but not ejected. You can always use the unmount button in Disk Utility. After this is complete, remount the USB key onto the Desktop.
- Close Terminal and mount the ESXI installer .iso. Copy all files from the installer onto the USB Key – you can use Terminal to do this but I simply dragged and dropped through the Finder.
- The last step is to modify a file on the USB key to tell the system which partition to use when booting up – on the USB key find the file called ‘ISOLINUX.CFG’, rename it ‘SYSLINUX.CFG’ and open it in any Terminal text editor such as vi or pico or open it in TextEdit (but do not open it in MS Word!).
- In the document, find the line that starts ‘APPEND -c boot.cfg’ and add ‘-p 1’ on the end (without the quotes). Save and Close TextEdit.
- Now, if all things have been done correctly and successfully you should have a bootable ESXi USB Key! The disk won’t show up as bootable in System Preferences -> Startup Disk but it will work.
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