Installing ESXi from a USB thumb drive

When building my ESXi server, I really did not have much use for a DVD drive in it...except for installing the operating system. Although installing a DVD drive and removing it later was an option, it just seemed like there should be an easier solution. There is.

A USB drive can be set up to boot into any LInux distribution using UNetBootin. Fortunately, ESXi is a Linux distribution. The steps are surprisingly easy.

  1. Download ESXi from VMWare
  2. Download UNetbootin from Sourceforge
  3. Plug your USB drive into your computer.
  4. Double click on the downloaded exe file. UNetbootin is a stand alone executable. No installation is needed.
  5. Select the second radio button, Diskimage. Click the button with the ellipses on it, browse to and select the ESXi iso you just downloaded.
  6. Once UNetbootin is finished, remove your USB drive from your current system. Plug it into the computer you want to install ESXi onto, restart the system and you are off and running. Everything will work just as if you were installing from any other media.
It really is this easy. The next step is hooking up to your network and creating some virtual machines.