You can use the preboot execution environment (PXE) to boot a host. Starting with vSphere 6.0, you can PXE boot the ESXi installer from a network interface on hosts with legacy BIOS or using UEFI.

ESXi is distributed in an ISO format that is designed to install to flash memory or to a local hard drive. You can extract the files and boot by using PXE.

PXE uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) to boot an operating system over a network.

PXE booting requires some network infrastructure and a machine with a PXE-capable network adapter. Most machines that can run ESXi have network adapters that can PXE boot.

Note

PXE booting with legacy BIOS firmware is possible only over IPv4. PXE booting with UEFI firmware is possible with either IPv4 or IPv6.