An overview shows you how all the pieces fit together when you PXE boot the ESX installer.

The network infrastructure for PXE booting the installer includes the following services.

DHCP server

TFTP server

PXELINUX/gPXE (SYSLINUX)

Network Server (NFS, HTTP or FTP)

Overview for PXE Booting the ESX Installer Using PXELINUX with gPXE shows the flow of the interaction between the components if you are using PXELINUX with gPXE. The scripts depot and the media depot are optional. You do not need them if you are performing an interactive installation with installation media that is stored locally on a DVD or USB.

Overview for PXE Booting the ESX Installer Using PXELINUX with gPXE
Diagram showing how PXE booting works using gPXE

Overview for PXE Booting the ESX Installer Using PXELINUX without gPXE shows the flow of the interaction between the components if you are using PXELINUX without gPXE. The scripts depot and the media depot are optional. You do not need them if you are performing an interactive installation with installation media that is stored locally on a DVD or USB.

Overview for PXE Booting the ESX Installer Using PXELINUX without gPXE
Process diagram of ESXi installer boot using PXELINUX without gPXE

In the case presented in the illustrations, PXE works as follows:

1

The target ESX host (the PXE client) is booted.

2

The target ESX host makes a DHCP request.

3

The DHCP server responds with the IP information and provides information about the location of a TFTP server.

4

When the client receives the information, it contacts the TFTP server requesting the file that the DHCP server specified (in this case, the network boot loader).

5

The TFTP server sends the network boot loader, and the client executes it.

6

PXELINUX or gPXE searches for a configuration file on the TFTP server, and boots a kernel according to that configuration file. In this case, the configuration file instructs PXE to load the kernel (vmlinuz) and a ramdisk (initrd.img).

7

The client downloads the files it needs and then loads them.

8

The system boots the ESX installer.

9

The installer runs interactively or scripted, as directed by the PXE configuration file.

10

The installer uses the installation media, either from a media depot stored on the network, or locally using DVD or USB.

11

ESX is installed.