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VMware ESXi step-by-step Installation Guide with Screenshots

As part of the on-going VMware article series, earlier we discussed about VMware virtualization fundamentals, and how to install VMware Server 2.

In this article, let us discuss about how to install VMware ESXi.

VMware ESXi is free. However, the software comes with a 60 days evaluation mode. You should register on VMware website to get your free license key to come out of the evaluation mode. Once the ESXi is installed, you can either user vSphere Client on the Direct Console User Interface to administer the host.

VMware ESXi is based on hypervisor architecture that runs directly on top of a hardware as shown below.

1. Download ESXi server

Get the software from the VMware ESXi download page.

Following are the various download options available. Select “ESXi 4.0 Update 1 Installable (CD ISO) Binary (.iso)” and burn a CD.

  • ESXi 4.0 Update 1 Installable (CD ISO)
  • Upgrade package from ESXi Server 3.5 to ESXi Server 4.0 Update 1
  • Upgrade package from ESXi Server 4.0 to ESXi Server 4.0 Update 1
  • VMware vSphere Client and Host Update Utility

2. VMware VMvisor Boot Menu

Once you insert the ESXi CD and reboot the server, it will display a boot menu with an option to launch “ESXi Installer” as shown below.

3. VMware ESXi Installer Loading

While the installer is loading all the necessary modules, it will display the server configuration information at the top as shown below. In this example, I was installing VMware ESXi 4.0 on a Dell PowerEdge 2950 server.

4. New ESXi Install

Since this is a new installation of ESXi, select “Install” in the following screen.

5. Accept VMware EULA

Read and accept the EULA by pressing F11.

6. Select a Disk to Install VMware ESXi

VMware ESXi 4.0.0 Installer will display all available disk groups. Choose the Disk where you would like to install the ESXi. It is recommended to choose the Disk0.

7. Confirm ESXi Installation

Confirm that you are ready to start the install process.

8. Installation in Progress

The installation process takes few minutes. While the ESXi is getting installed, it will display a progress bar as shown below.

9. ESXi Installation Complete

You will get the following installation completed message that will prompt you to reboot the server.

10. ESXi Initial Screen

After the ESXi is installed, you’ll get the following screen where you can configure the system by pressing F2.

In the next article, let us review how to perform the initial ESXi configuration.

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{ 33 comments… add one }

  • deepak deore June 23, 2010, 5:38 am

    nice article, waiting for the next part, are you going to describe vSphere Client as well ? I heard that managing vmware ESXi is difficult from command line, so we need to use vSphare client which is not free.

  • Suresh October 19, 2010, 6:44 pm

    Hi Ramesh,
    Great article! Thanks.
    I am just starting to learn abt ESXi and was wondering how you could take those screenshots without a client. I know, it may be silly question for those who are already using.
    As I understand vSphere (client) comes with it, will that provide the functionality to take screenshots?


  • Paul November 18, 2010, 5:04 am

    Ramesh, I’ve been eagerly waiting for the next article on this topic.

  • Jules April 12, 2011, 10:59 am

    Thank you. Great instructions and very simplified.

    I understand there is a way to install using graphical mode so you can increase the block size. However, I don’t see anything on install options for GUI mode. Are you aware of this option and how to access? Many thanks!

  • Anish Sneh May 6, 2011, 5:22 am

    Thanks Ramesh , very helpful…

  • rastechnologies June 16, 2011, 12:21 am

    Hi Guide me how to install Vsphere over windows server 2003 and 2008

  • Noor July 6, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Great article for beginners..

  • Ale Khan August 28, 2011, 1:43 pm

    Dear Ramesh

    Thanks a lot for such a valuable help plz do keep continue

    BEst of luck how about the further parts?



  • Mahi September 12, 2011, 9:46 pm

    Ramesh, do you have any hardning best practices on ESXi4/5.x?


  • peat November 2, 2011, 6:28 am

    thiis is a good article

  • juan harris November 3, 2011, 2:28 pm

    Ramesh were is the second part of this installation ?

  • Mark November 16, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Ramesh, great article. We all are waiting for the second part and reply of these questions. Will be great help if you can guide us.

  • Salena January 5, 2012, 11:10 am

    Looking for some step by step instructions on building and configuring a ESX server from beginning to end. This is a new technology that I have been tasked with documenting the deployment and configuration of. Any links or info would be greatly appreciated. Also, great material on this site.

    I look forward to hearing from you


  • vibhash singh April 3, 2012, 2:32 am

    thank you
    for give the good article

  • Alpha April 14, 2012, 9:45 am

    I have a big problem. We buy a HP dl 380 G7 server Last week.We installed ESX 4.0 and 2 VMs for test on it first then we decide to upgrade it to ESX I 5.0. For doing it, I clear RAID and reconfigure it to RAID 5.after it ,I tried to install ESX I 5.0 but there is not any storage on Local and it detect my storage on remote only.Please help me to run ESX i 5.0 and build my VMs.
    Server configuration:
    6*450 SAS HDD
    2*XEON 5650 – 6 Core
    • I have changed RAID for storage to different formats but no success.
    • On install time, in storage form, show my storage with RAID 5 on remote section.

  • Kelvin clark April 21, 2012, 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the installation guide. I’m having a problem at stage 6, I cant for some reason see my 1TB Maxtor SATA drive. I have tried unformatting it, formatting it, partitioning it etc and i still cant see it. Do you have any idea why this would be?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Hasnain April 30, 2012, 3:23 am

    I’m getting error message of ‘network adapter not found’ so setup cannot continoue.
    But the network is enabled ! pls advise

  • chandru September 12, 2012, 5:07 am

    I have Hp z400 with 6 Gb RAm can is install EXi 3.0or 4.2 0r 5.0

  • Rupert Pumkin March 5, 2013, 11:30 am

    Anyone can help me install ESXI5. I have a windows machine do I install the esxi on a machine with no OS or? I have 2 Dell towers that meet the requirements to install ESXI5

  • Dinesh Rao April 4, 2013, 2:53 am

    Hi. Sir/ Madam, Looking for some step by step instructions on building and configuring a ESX server from beginning to end. This is a new technology that I have been tasked with documenting the deployment and configuration of. Any links or info would be greatly appreciated. Also, great material on this site. I look forward to hearing from you.

  • purusothaman May 16, 2013, 3:31 am

    hi Rupert,

    check in http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php for esxi version supported for your servers.

    download the customized image from Dell website and install on your server.

    Installation is very easy and straight forward. if you are using dhcp in your network. by default esxi will pick up ip from dhcp and you will need to change it to static..

    after installation complete.. you can enable esxi console shell from ALT+f2 Troubleshooting option and access.

    but ideally you will need a vsphere client / Vcenter server to access this Esxi server

  • Omkar June 6, 2013, 11:01 am

    do you know if we can pre-load ESXi on an USB drive in the B200 M3?

  • vijay September 16, 2013, 2:02 pm

    thanks for showing how to install ESX server.And we need how to manage in VC installation and configuration of VSWITCH and snapshot,cluster,VMotion and NTP

  • deepak September 28, 2013, 11:48 pm

    ya.. Im new to VMware now i am so happy because i learnt one new concept that VMware installation..

    Thank you

    My dear friend

  • srinivas December 6, 2013, 12:08 am

    Hi Team

    I have some queries related to the esxi installation.
    1)how to we install from the san disk or how to we install esxi from san storage.
    2)how to we do bare metal installation remotely what are the possible ways to install esx/esxi remotely.

  • Gautam March 12, 2014, 12:28 am


    I am new to Vmware and the Document will me in the installations.


  • MOhammad Irfan March 13, 2014, 12:11 am

    Grat Article..!!

    Thank u soo much

    Now i got the idea about ESXi Installation.

  • Dinesh Murugan April 9, 2014, 4:20 pm

    Hi guys,
    You just download ESXi operating system and it’s completely free . You just installing clears workstation and upgrading with Esxi OS. Finally installation completed with one ip address. In this installation you need to give root password. Then you minimize this vmware workstation running with ESXi , you do not power off the vmware workstation. And you open vmware vsphere and you give the username , root password , and IP address. Then you might seeing the cloud computing there……

  • manoj July 7, 2014, 8:02 am

    if incase i need to install on a RAID volume, were should i give the driver for the virtual drive?

  • Mohammed Shafique December 4, 2014, 9:05 am

    Hi Ramesh, Great article

  • Pramod Pandey December 5, 2014, 3:51 am

    its good for biginner i m also learning vmware ESXI5.5 and Vaspare client i have a confusion can we use Vspere client wethout microsoft windows support if s then how ?
    please help us thanks.

  • Ravi January 22, 2015, 10:35 am

    H , Ramesh,

    Please come again with Next

  • Anand February 6, 2015, 6:06 am

    Please let us know next details.

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