You can PXE boot the ESXi installer by using PXELINUX, and you can use the isolinux.cfg file as the PXE configuration file.
Verify that your environment has the following components:
- The ESXi installer ISO image downloaded from the VMware Web site.
- TFTP server that supports PXE booting with PXELINUX. See About the TFTP Server, PXELINUX, and gPXE.
- DHCP server configured for PXE booting. See Sample DHCP Configuration.
- Server with a hardware configuration that is supported with your version of ESXi. See the VMware Compatibility Guide http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.
- Network security policies to allow TFTP traffic (UDP port 69).
- (Optional) Installation script, the kickstart file. See About Installation and Upgrade Scripts.
- Network adapter with PXE support on the target ESXi host.
- IPv4 networking. IPv6 is not supported for PXE booting.
Use a native VLAN in most cases. To specify the VLAN ID to be used with PXE booting, verify that your NIC supports VLAN ID specification.
- Create the /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory on your TFTP server.
- On the Linux machine, install PXELINUX.
PXELINUX is included in the Syslinux package. Extract the files, locate the pxelinux.0 file, and copy it to the /tftpboot directory on your TFTP server.
- Configure the DHCP server.
The DHCP server sends the following information to your client hosts:
- The name or IP address of your TFTP server
- The name of your initial boot file, pxelinux.0
- Copy the contents of the ESXi installer image to the /var/lib/tftpboot directory on the TFTP server.
- (Optional) For a scripted installation, in the boot.cfg file, add the kernelopt option on the line after the kernel command to specify the location of the installation script.
In the following example, XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX is the IP address of the server where the installation script resides.
- Copy the isolinux.cfg file from the ESXi installer ISO image to the /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory.
The isolinux.cfg file contains the following code, where XXXXXX is the build number of the ESXi installer image:
DEFAULT menu.c32 MENU TITLE ESXi-6.x.x-XXXXXX-full Boot Menu NOHALT 1 PROMPT 0 TIMEOUT 80 LABEL install KERNEL mboot.c32 APPEND -c location of boot.cfg MENU LABEL ESXi-6.x.x-XXXXXX-full ^Installer LABEL hddboot LOCALBOOT 0x80 MENU LABEL ^Boot from local disk
- Rename the isolinux.cfg file with the MAC address of the target host machine: 01-mac_address_of_target_ESXi_host. For example, 01-23-45-67-89-0a-bc
- Boot the machine with the network adapter.