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Creating a bootable USB Memory Stick for ESXi 4.1 (on a Mac)


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While trying to create a bootable USB Flash Memory Stick for VMware vSphere ESXi 4.1, I realized there were no resources available for individuals like myself that use MAC OSX to perform this function. There are quite a few resources available for Windows and Linux platform but practically non-for the Mac platform.

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Though I ran into Scott Lowe’s Blog and this great article he published a while back describes the process for generating a USB Flash Memory image for ESXi 3.5, Here is an attempt to use the same methodology to create a VMware VSphere 4.1 bootable USB Flash Memory Stick using the standard ISO image you can download from VMware’s website. The process varies a bit between the older ESXi 3.x versions and the newer ESXi 4.x versions.

 

  • After you have downloaded the VMware ISO image VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.1.0.updateX-XXXXX.iso, please double click on it to mount the ISO image on your MAC.
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  • Once the image is mounted, browse to the file imagedd.bz2 and copy the file to your Mac desktop. Rename the file to dd.bz3
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  • Insert the USB Flash Drive in the Mac.
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  • Go to Applications –> Utilities –> Disk Utility and single click on the USB Drive, then on the menu bar of the window click on Info for that drive. Under Info look for Disk identifier, you might find your disk identifier to be disk1s1, disk2s1, disk3, disk3s2 or so forth.
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  • Now you will need to unmount this drive and it will disappear from your desktop (icon) and from finder. If the USB Flash Drive is mounted while you try to copy (dd) the files over, you might get a message the drive is busy, henceforth the unmount of the drive.
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  • In Disk Utility window, right click on the USB drive and select the option Unmount “Name of Your USB Flash Disk”. Now the drive should be greyed out on the Disk Utility screen.
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  • Now open the Terminal Window to type the following command that will copy the dd.bz2 file to the USB Flash Disk.
    bzcat /users/yourusername/desktop/dd.bz2 | dd of=/dev/disk1

……….- Where replace disk1 by your disk identifier number.
……….- Where replace yourusername by the username you are logged in with.
……….- If you have saved the file dd.bz2 at a different location, please reference that instead of /users/yourusername/desktop/dd.bz2
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  • Depending on the speed of your USB and other factors like CPU speed, memory etc, the time to execute this command may vary. It took about 11 mins to finish up on my MacBook Pro. The terminal window should show the process is finished once it returns back to the prompt.
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  • You can now safely eject the USB Flash Disk from the Mac and insert it into the Server you are trying to install ESXi on.
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  • A typical 1GB USB memory stick should be enough for ESXi to install, operate and function properly, so no need to use a 8GB or 16GB USB memory stick.
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If you find this article useful or run into any issues while creating the image or have any other better methods, please feel free to leave a comment.

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  • ganesh

    On windows I used vmware player to run the iso and install directly to a usb disk – if you have a similar tool to vmware player for OSX – it will be more straight forward than this….