HOW TO Create your own bootable VMWare ESXi 4 usb stick

Filed Under (VMWare ESXi 4) by Just An Admin on 29-05-2009

I’ve updated an exisiting article to match the VMware ESXi 4 requirements, but this document was originally posted here. VMware ESXi 4 is certified to run on a broad range of 64-bit hardware.


  • 1 GB USB flash drive (aka pen drive or USB stick) or larger
  • WinImage
  • 7Zip

Of course you can use your favourite tools and larger USB flash drives, but 1 GB is enough space for the boot image. Perform the following steps to create a bootable VMWare ESXi 4 USB flash drive:

  1. Download ESX Server 4 Installable ISO (at the moment of writing: VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.0.0-164009.x86_64.iso)
  2. Extract IMAGE.TGZ from the root directory of the ISO image using an 7Zip or WinImage
  3. Extract /usr/lib/vmware/installer/VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd.bz2 from INSTALL.TGZ using 7Zip
  4. Extract VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd from VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd.bz2 using 7Zip
  5. Attach the USB flash drive and make sure you no longer need the data on it
  6. Use WinImage to transfer VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd to the USB flash drive
    1. Disk->Restore Virtual Hard Disk image on physical drive…
    2. Select the USB flash drive (Warning: If you select the wrong disk you will lose data!)
    3. Select the image file VMware-VMvisor-big-164009-x86_64.dd
    4. Confirm the warning message
    5. Wait for the transfer to complete
  7. Unplug the USB flash drive (Warning: If you forget to unplug the flash drive from the PC you might lose the data on your hard drives the next time you boot!)
  8. Attach the USB flash drive to the machine you want to boot (Warning: If VMWare ESXi 4 recognizes local drives, you might lose the data on it, so make sure you don´t need it anymore or unplug all hard drives!)
  9. Turn the machine on and make sure the USB flash drive is selected as boot device
  10. Watch VMWare ESXi 4 boot
  11. Configure
  12. Enjoy!

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