You can use a TFTP server to PXE boot the ESX installer.

Verify that your environment has the following components:

TFTP server that supports PXE boot


(Optional) gPXE, which is part of the SYSLINUX package. If you have a newer version of SYSLINUX, gPXE is already built. If you are building gPXE from source, you can unpack it on most Linux machines and run the make command.

For gPXE, a Web server that is accessible by your target ESX hosts

DHCP server configured for PXE booting

(Optional) ESX installation script

Network adapter with PXE support on the target ESX host

IPv4 networking (IPv6 is not supported for PXE booting.)


On a Linux machine, install TFTP server software that supports PXE booting.

If your environment does not have a TFTP server, you can use one of the packaged appliances on the VMware Marketplace. If you do this, note that certain functions, such as correct operation of the text menu system, are operating system dependent.


Put the menu.c32 file in an accessible place in a supported location.

For gPXE, put the menu.c32 file on a Web server. For example, you can use the httpd package in RHEL5, which contains Apache. The HTML documents are placed in /var/www/html, which is where you can copy menu.c32.

For PXELINUX without gPXE, put the menu.c32 file on a TFTP server.


On the Linux machine, install PXELINUX.

PXELINUX is included in the SYSLINUX package. Extract the files, locate the file pxelinux.0 or gpxelinux.0, and copy it to the /tftpboot directory on your TFTP server.


Configure the DHCP server.

The DHCP server sends the following information to your client hosts:

The name or IP address of your TFTP server.

The name of your initial boot file. This is pxelinux.0



Create the kernel image and ramdisk directory by copying the vmlinuz and initrd.img files from the /isolinux directory on the ESX installation DVD to a supported location.

Web server, if you are using gPXE.

/tftpboot directory on the TFTP server, if you are using PXELINUX without gPXE.


Create the /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg directory on your TFTP server.


Create a PXE configuration file.

This file defines how the host boots when no operating system is present.

The PXE configuration file references the location of the vmlinuz and initrd.img files in the kernel image and ramdisk directory.


Save the PXE configuration file in /tftpboot/pxelinux.cfg on the TFTP server.

You now have an environment that you can use for PXE booting the ESX installer.