You can use a TFTP server to PXE boot the ESXi installer, using PXELINUX and a PXE configuration file.

Verify that your environment has the following components:

The ESXi installer ISO image downloaded from the VMware Web site.

TFTP server that supports PXE booting with gPXE. See About the TFTP Server, PXELINUX, and gPXE.

DHCP server configured for PXE booting. See Sample DHCP Configuration.


Server with a hardware configuration that is supported with ESXi 5.0. See the Hardware Compatibility Guide at

Network security policies to allow TFTP traffic (UDP port 69)

(Optional) Installation script, the kickstart file. See About Installation and Upgrade Scripts.

Network adapter with PXE support on the target ESXi host

IPv4 networking. IPv6 is not supported for PXE booting.

Use a native VLAN in most cases. If you want to specify the VLAN ID to be used with PXE booting, check that your NIC supports VLAN ID specification.


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


On the Linux machine, install PXELINUX.

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


Configure the DHCP server to send the following information to each client host:

The name or IP address of your TFTP server.

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


Copy the contents of the ESXi installer image to the /var/lib/tftpboot directory on the TFTP server.


(Optional) For a scripted installation, in the boot.cfg file, add the kernelopt option on the line following the kernel command, to specify the location of the installation script.

Use the following code as a model, where XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX is the IP address of the server where the installation script resides, and esxi_ksFiles is the directory containing the ks.cfg file.


Create a PXE configuration file.

This file defines how the host boots when no operating system is present. The PXE configuration file references the boot files. Use the following code as a model, where XXXXXX is the build number of the ESXi installer image.

DEFAULT menu.c32
MENU TITLE ESXi-5.0.0-XXXXXX-full Boot Menu
LABEL install
  KERNEL mboot.c32
   APPEND -c location of boot.cfg
MENU LABEL ESXi-5.0.0-XXXXXX-full ^Installer
LABEL hddboot
 MENU LABEL ^Boot from local disk

Name the file with the MAC address of the target host machine: 01-mac_address_of_target_ESXi_host.

For example, 01-23-45-67-89-0a-bc.


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


Boot the machine with the network adapter.