Mar 21, 2016

How to Create Autodeploy ISO for Automated VMware ESXi Installation

This article will show you how to create Autodeploy ISO for unattended VMware ESXi Installation. You’ll need some tools which can edit ISO images and one of them is Winiso my favorite.

The configuration file is very flexible, and in our example we’ll have the option for installing to the first available disk and formatting without prompt. You may want to change this to fit your needs. Note also that in our post we simply place the KS.CFG file to the root of the ISO file from we’ll be booting the installer, but it’s just for learning purposes. , but there are in total 3 different places where you can put the file:

In total, 3 VMware supports different types of installations with places where you can put the file:
  1. Root of the ESXi ISO file
  2. USB stick – During boot do a Shift + o:  runweasel ks=usb:/ks.cfg 
  3. Network – the file has to be accessible through http/https, NFS or FTP.
The USB is the simplest one, but we might come back to this to explore the two other options in one of our future posts.

Step1 – Download WinISO, (6 Megs) > do an installation on your management workstation > Open the latest ESXi ISO file.

Step 2 – create ks.cfg file with this example content in it (partly from VMware documentation) and place the file to the root of the directory

# Sample scripted installation file
# Accept the VMware End User License Agreement
# Set the root password for the DCUI and Tech Support Mode
rootpw Superpassword123
# The install media is in the CD-ROM drive
install –firstdisk –overwritevmfs
# Set the network to DHCP on the first network adapater
network –bootproto=dhcp –device=vmnic0
rootpw Superpassword123
If you check the documentation, there are other options as well, for example, the selection of international keyboard (optional) or specify serial number. If not, the hypervisor just installs as 60 days trial. The KSCFG is supported for installation or for upgrades.

Step 3 – Modify existing file called BOOT.CFG which is on the ISO  (replace the original one with the new one)  > then do a Save As to save the ISO with a new name…  Like this you keep the original ISO untouched. Or, you can do a copy of the original ISO by hand before starting doing any changes if you like.

The original value to replace is:
with this… (note the CASE. If you don’t put the case ON, the script isn’t found)

So at final, you should end up with an ISO file with: 1 new file (ks.cfg) and one modified file (boot.cfg)
  • One new file (KS.CFG)
  • One modified file (BOOT.CFG)

Save your work.

Best way then to test is through VMware Workstation, Fusion or Player. Once you attach the ISO to the newly created VM, automatically the new VM is recognized as ESXi hypervisor (unsupported). But for testing different values this is probably the most flexible option.

The DHCP option for example works only if you have a DHCP server available on your network. When testing in VMware workstation make sure that you set correct networks settings for this newly created VM otherwise if VM is isolated the installer will complain that no DHCP servers were found on the network.

Source: VMware vSphere 6.0 Documentation

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