The graphical mode is the recommended installation method if you are installing ESX for the first time. The graphical mode runs by default if you do not select an alternate installation method.


Choose a method for booting the installer.

Boot from the DVD using the local DVD-ROM drive.

PXE boot the installer.


Select Install ESX in graphical mode.


(Optional) Press F2 and type boot options for the installer.

A series of installation messages scroll past until the Welcome page appears.


Click Next to continue.


Select I accept the terms of the license agreement and click Next.

You cannot install this product unless you accept the license agreement.


If the alignment of the license agreement screen is skewed to the left, you might need to auto-adjust your host monitor.


Select your keyboard type from the list and click Next.


Select whether to install custom drivers with the ESX installation.

You might need custom drivers if your system is not listed in the Hardware Compatibility Guide and has a network or storage device that was not originally compatible with ESX 4.1.

If you PXE booted the ESX installer, you cannot install custom drivers during the installation process. You can install them after the ESX installation is complete.

Select Yes and click Add to install custom drivers. The installer prompts you to insert the media containing the custom drivers. After you add the custom drivers to the list, the installer prompts you to reinsert the ESX installation DVD and continue with the installation. Click Next to continue.

Select No if you do not need to install custom drivers. You can install custom drivers after the ESX installation is complete, using other command-line and GUI tools available to you, such as the vSphere CLI and vCenter Update Manager. Click Next to continue.


Click Yes to load the required ESX drivers.


Configure ESX licensing.

Select Enter a serial number now, enter the vSphere license key, and click Next.

Select Enter a license key later and click Next. This choice allows you to evaluate ESX (or enter a vSphere license key later using the vSphere Client).


Select the network adapter for the ESX service console.

Virtual machine network traffic shares this network adapter until you configure a virtual switch for another network adapter. You can configure other network adapters at a later time from the vSphere Client.


If the adapter is connected to a VLAN, select This adapter requires a VLAN ID, enter a VLAN ID number between 0 and 4095, and click Next.


Configure the network settings.

VMware recommends that you use a static IP address to simplify client access. If you want to use static settings but you do not have the required information, you can use DHCP for the installation and configure static settings after you consult with your network administrator.

For the host name, type the complete host name including the domain. This option is available only if you use a static IP address.


(Optional) Click Test these settings to test the network interface.


(Optional) Select the location of the unpacked ESX installation ISO image.

These options appear if you entered the askmedia bootstrap command at the mode selection screen. You can specify one of the following locations:

DVD or USB (You can select a CD-ROM drive other than the one you might be using for booting the installer.)

Network file system (NFS) server and a directory path.




Select a setup option.



Standard Setup

The installer configures the default partitions on a single hard drive or LUN where you install ESX. The default partitions are sized based on the capacity of the hard drive or LUN. If you have an existing ESX installation, you are prompted to retain it.

Advanced Setup

Allows you to specify esxconsole.vmdk partition settings, kernel options, and a bootloader location and password. If you leave the Configure boot loader automatically option selected, the installer places the boot loader in the master boot record (MBR). If you have an existing ESX installation, you are prompted to retain it.


Select a location to install ESX and click Next.


With ESX 4.0 Update 1 and later,if you have an ESX installation and VMFS partition on the same disk or LUN, you have the option to retain the VMFS volume.

Installing ESX on a USB device is not supported.


In the dialog box that appears with an option to retain the existing VMFS volume, click OK.

If you are retaining a VMFS volume from ESX 4.0 and later, a dialog box appears with an option to retain the existing service console disk.


To preserve the service console virtual disk, select Preserve the existing COS VMDK file and click OK.

If you choose to retain the existing COS VMDK file but do not have enough space to retain it, the installation cannot continue.


The existing COS VMDK file can be accessed later to retrieve any files from the previous installation, but it is not reused for the installation.


Configure advanced options.


Configure a location for the VMFS datastore to store the service console.

Create new datastore – Select the same disk as ESX or select another disk. If you select another disk, the disk used for the ESX location contains only the /boot and vmkcore partitions, and the rest of the disk is unpartitioned. The second disk is formatted as a single VMFS partition that spans the entire disk.

You can create additional partitions post-install, using the vSphere Client.

Use existing datastore – Select an existing datastore available to the host.

VMFS2 volumes are not recognized by ESX 4.1.

The service console must be installed on a VMFS datastore that is resident on a host's local disk or on a SAN disk that is masked and zoned to that particular host only. The datastore cannot be shared between hosts.


Create new partitions and edit or delete the default partitions.

VMware recommends that you retain the /var/log partition of 2000MB.


Configure advanced bootloader options.

The Bootloader Options page appears if you deselected the Configure boot loader automatically check box.


Enter bootloader kernel arguments.

The installer writes the arguments to the grub.conf file and passes them to the ESX kernel every time ESX boots.


Enter an optional bootloader password. It can be up to 30 characters.


Select where the GRUB bootloader is installed.

By default, the GRUB bootloader is installed in the MBR. Use this option for most installations. For legacy hardware that stores BIOS information in the MBR, click Install GRUB on the first partition of the disk, instead of the Master Boot Record.


Configure the time zone.


Configure the date and time settings.

Select Automatically and enter the IP address or host name of an NTP server.

Select Manually to use the machine date and time detected by the installer or to set the date and time yourself. If you select Manually and you do not have a functioning mouse, you can change the calendar month and year by using Ctrl-left-arrow and Ctrl-right-arrow for the month, and Ctrl-up-arrow and Ctrl-down-arrow for the year.


Enter a root password.

It must contain between 6 and 64 characters.


(Optional) Create additional users by clicking Add.


Confirm your installation configuration and click Next.

If an installation error occurs at this point, the ISO image might be invalid or there might be something wrong with the DVD media. To troubleshoot, try the ISO download process again, make sure the DVD is in working order, and make sure the DVD drive and DVD media type are compatible. When you retry the installation, perform the media check operation by running the media check boot argument. Alternatively, use another media access option, such as HTTP.


Click Next and then click Finish to exit the installer and reboot the host.


During reboot, press the key required to enter your machine’s BIOS setup or boot menu

This key is often a function key or Delete.


Set the first boot device to be the drive on which you installed ESX.

After installation, a esxconsole-<system-uuid>/esxconsole.vmdk file is created in a VMFS volume. The /, swap, /var/log, and any of the optional partitions are stored in the esxconsole.vmdk file.

After you install ESX and reboot the host, you can log in to the service console to read the installation log at /var/log/esx_install.log.