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Thursday, February 3, 2011

ESXi 4.1 installation failed

When ESXi 4.0 just came out I was testing it in my home lab, installing it on both USB stick and HDD on different "not supported" hardware including even my IBM Laptop - never had any problem with installation.
When ESXi 4.1 came out I upgraded my main ESXi 4.0 server without any problem whatsoever. However, when I decided to do a fresh install on my secondary ESXi 4.0 host few days later I got the following error message: 

The installation operation has encountered a fatal error:

Unable to find system image to install.
This is due to the image not being mounted correctly or the CD-ROM is not being supported.
The following system information will assist VMware team with your problem. Please record your information before proceeding:

System Information

That brought some good memories back from DOS era. No, seriously. I had not seen an "incompatible" CD-ROM for at least last 15-20 years! I take off my hat to VMware programmers - I have no clue how to make CD-ROM "incompatible" on purpose nowadays (maybe they're checking manufacturer against "white list" but I cannot believe they're doing it - that would be too easy).

Anyways, just for curiosity sake, here is what I tried
1. Replaced current IDE CD-ROM with another IDE one (it was actually DVD ROM) - didn't help
2. Replaced current IDE DVD-ROM with a SATA one - didn't help
3. Created bootable USB stick and booted from it - same error message
4. Connected cheap portable USB DVD-ROM - finally it worked !!!

Bottom line:
you basically have 3 options:
1. Install ESXi 4.1 on a USB stick on some "compatible" hardware, take USB stick out and use it on your hardware. Yes you can do it since it's not hardware dependent.... unless you use a custom kernel which is another story.
2. Install ESXi 4.0 first and then upgrade it to ESXi 4.1
3. Try an external USB CD-ROM (I cannot guarantee it will work - maybe VMware simply "liked" the manufacturer of my cheap external CD-ROM)

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