How To: Create an ESXi USB Key


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In this short tutorial you’ll learn how to create an ESXi USB Key.

Before we start you need the following tools:

  • 7-Zip
  • Winimage
  • VMware ESX 3i installer CD

After installing the tools we need to extract the *.dd file. Open the VMware-VMvisor-InstallerCD-3.5.0_UpdateX-XXXXXX.i386.iso with 7-Zip. Right click on install.tar and press Open Inside. Remember the Ctrl+PgDn shortcut.

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Open usr\lib\vmware\installer. Select VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0_Update_4-153875.i386.dd.bz2 and press Ctrl+PgDn again.

Extract the VMware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0_Update_4-153875.i386.dd file.

 

Now we have the *.dd file and we can write it back to an USB Key.

Open WinImage and pres Disk followed by Restore Virtual Hard Disk image on physical drive…

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Select the USB Key. In my case it’s a SanDisk Cruzer.

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Open de *.dd file and answer Yes on the LAST WARNING.

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When the wizard completes without an error. The USB Key is ready to use.

 

Update:

if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7 x64 you might get an error like this:

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If someone knows a solution for this problem please leave a comment. If you run this tutorial on a Windows XP machine, it will work as expected.

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8 thoughts on “How To: Create an ESXi USB Key

  1. fixR

    Nice article.
    Do you know how to update the stick when updates for ESX3.5 are available?

    Thanks

    Reply
  2. Scoundrel

    I am doing this with Windows XP pro SP3, WinImage 8.10.8100, 7-Zip Portable 4.64. I am getting the following error:

    Error reading file c:\Vmware-VMvisor-big-3.5.0_Update_4-153875.1386.dd.bz2

    I have done this successfully with Update 2 and Update 3.
    I tried re-downloading the file from VMware. It also happens on the Dell-customized one and the HP-customized one. Almost makes me think VMware sabotaged this, but then it works with ESXi 4.0 OK.

    Ideas?

    Reply
    1. Scoundrel

      Never mind, I was being a dork. I accidentally skipped the last extraction and was trying to write the .bz2 file to the USB disk. I wasted two hours on this. Drrrr.

  3. sjeffrey

    For Vista/7, I think you need to clear the USB key’s partitions.
    I used diskpart, selected the correct disk using LIST DISK to find it.
    Then I used SELECT DISK x (x being the disk number for your USB key)
    Then I used CLEAN

    Be careful when using diskpart, if you don’t select the right disk you can wipeout your system!

    Reply

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