Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) is similar to the FTP service, and is typically used only for network booting systems or loading firmware on network devices such as routers.

Most Linux distributions include a copy of the tftp-hpa server. If you require a supported solution, purchase a supported TFTP server from your vendor of choice.

If your TFTP server will run on a Microsoft Windows host, use tftpd32 version 2.11 or later. See Earlier versions of tftpd32 were incompatible with PXELINUX and gPXE.

You can also acquire a TFTP server from one of the packaged appliances on the VMware Marketplace.

The PXELINUX and gPXE environments allow your target machine to boot the ESXi installer. PXELINUX is part of the SYSLINUX package, which can be found at, although many Linux distributions include it. Many versions of PXELINUX also include gPXE. Some distributions, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 5.3, include earlier versions of PXELINUX that do not include gPXE.

If you do not use gPXE, you might experience problems while booting the ESXi installer on a heavily loaded network TFTP is sometimes unreliable for transferring large amounts of data. If you use PXELINUX without gPXE, the pxelinux.0 binary file, the configuration file, the kernel, and other files are transferred by TFTP. If you use gPXE, only the gpxelinux.0 binary file and configuration file are transferred by TFTP. With gPXE, you can use a Web server to transfer the kernel and other files required to boot the ESXi installer.

Note: VMware tests PXE booting with PXELINUX version 3.86. This is not a statement of limited support. For support of third-party agents that you use to set up your PXE booting infrastructure, contact the vendor.
Figure 1. Overview of PXE Boot Installation Process
The PXE boot ESXi installation process is shown as sequence of interactions between the ESXi host, the DHCP server, the TFTP server, the Web server, and the scripts depot. These interactions provide the ESXi host with IP address for the virtual network adapter, the network boot loader, the kernel, the IP address for the kernel, and the installation script.