Installing ESXi 6 onto USB via Workstation 9

This is going to one of those blog posts that is mostly pictures 😉 When installing ESXi 6 I decided to install onto (and therefore boot from) USB instead of installing and booting from local disk. This would allow my SSDs to be used for playing with Flash Cache. I had Workstation 9 available to me, so tried to use it (spoiler alert: it worked).

To begin, create a new Virtual Machine with the latest compatibility level.


Select to install VMware ESXi 5.


It needs to have a minimum of 2 processors.


As per ESXi 5.5 it requires 4 GB of RAM.


Workstation 9 forces you to configure a drive. Add a small drive and delete afterwards.


Follow the wizard through to the end to create the VM. Then edit the settings and delete the hard disk. I don’t know if it is important, but I made sure the VM had the same number of ethernet adapters as the target host.

We can now boot the VM and go through the standard installation procedure. Select the USB drive to install from, though make sure it is larger than 910 MB:


If we are installing to another usb drive (for another host) after this one completes we need to change the MAC address of the VM’s network adapter, or we will create another installation with the same MAC address for the management adapter. Which will make one host unusable. Go to the Virtual Machine settings, select the Network Adapter and then press the Advanced button.


Press the Generate button to create a new MAC address.


We’re now set to install ESXi again 😉