VCAP-DCA 5 Objective 9.1–Install ESXi Server with Custom Settings

Objective 9.1 – Install ESXi Server with Custom Settings

For this objective I used the following resources:


Identify ESXi Image Builder Requirements

  • Microsoft .NET 2.0
  • Microsoft PowerShell 1.0 or 2.0
  • vSphere PowerCLI (includes Image Builder cmdlets)

Skills and Abilities

Create/Edit Image Profiles

Install/Uninstall Custom Drivers

Grouping these two skills together. An Image Profile is an ESXi image that has been created that contains VMware and thirty-party drivers packaged as VIBs. Using the Image Builder PowerCLI cmdlets you can export the images as either ZIP files or ISO files. To start you need to create a “Software Depot”. These depots can either be local or accessed via HTTP. For this example we will be leveraging a local software depot that contains the ESXi 5.0 zip file.

For additional reading on Image Builder, have a look at the following resources:

Step 1 – Using the “Add-EsxSoftwareDepot” cmdlet to import the base ESXi 5.0 image:


Step 2 –  To see that the image has been imported run the “Get-EsxImageProfile” cmdlet. Note that there are two images listed, one with and one without VMware Tools:


Step 3 – With the software depot imported, using the “New-EsxImageProfile” cmdlet we will make a “clone” of the ESXi image name “VCAP-DCA5”. Later we will modify this image by adding additional VIBs:


Step 4 – Now with our “VCAP-DCA5” base ESXi image lets add some additional VIBs. In this example I will be adding Brocade Ethernet and CAN drivers. As we did in Step 1 I will be adding a software depot containing the Brocade VIB files:


Step 5 – To confirm the VIB has been added and to get its name for the next step use the “Get-EsxSoftwarePackage” cmdlet. In the example I am using the “sort” function to list the “Vendor” column alphabetically, this way the Brocade package will be listed first:


Step 6 – Using the “Add-EsxSoftwarePackage” cmdlet and the package name retreived in step 5 will add the newly imported Brocade VIB to our “VCAP-DCA5” image:


Step 7 – Now to verify that the Brocade VIB is indeed installed into our image:


Step 8 – If you want to remove a VIB, say that Brocade driver we just installed, use the “Remove-EsxSoftwarePackage” cmdlet:


Step 9 – The Brocade package is no longer listed:


Step 10 – After your image is created and fine tuned to your liking use the “Export-EsxImageProfile” cmdlet to export the image either as an ISO or an offline bundle to be used with Update Manager to install your ESXi hosts:


Configure Advanced Bootloader Options

ESXi supports installing or upgrading an existing installation using scripts. You can utilize either these by using supported commands from boot prompt. To access the prompt, during the installer process press “Shift+O”:


Enter your boot command:


Review page 49 of the VMware “vSphere Installation and Setup” documentation for a full listing of supported commands

Configure Kernel Options

The boot loader configuration file boot.cfg specifies the kernel, the kernel options, and the boot modules that the mboot.c32 boot loader uses in an ESXi installation. You can modify the kernelopt line of the boot.cfg file to specify the location of an installation scriot or to pass other boot options. Below are the available commands:

Command Description
title=STRING Sets the bootloader title to STRING
kernel=FILEPATH Sets the kernel path to FILEPATH
kernelopt=STRING Appends STRING to the kernel boot options
modules=FILEPATH1—FILEPATH2 Lists the modules to be loaded, separated by three hypens


Given a Scenario, Determine when to Customize a Configuration

The most common scenario would be to include storage/network drivers that are not included with the default ESXi installation. Other opportunities would include using a kickstart or a scripted installation to quickly deploy multiple ESXi hosts with a base configuration (vSwitches, storage, etc).