How to create USB Boot stick for ESXi

The Intel NUC has become a popular device for a variety of use cases. It's quite a powerful little box that can be used as a regular Windows/Linux machine, a Home Theater PC (HTPC), or a techie Test/Dev box for many different types of software, including VMware ESXi - and even vSAN! This will be a short blog post on setting up a USB boot stick for the installation of ESXi. The process used here can be put towards any other OS as well.

Obtain ISO Image

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In our case, we need to acquire the ESXi 6.5 Bootable Install ISO image. For this, we must have an account at VMware that allows us to download the necessary software.
- ESXi 6.5.0 Download
Download the VMware-VMvisor-Installer-<VERSION>-<BUILD>.x86_64.iso image
Once you've downloaded the ISO, you'll need a tool that is capable of creating a bootable USB stick from an ISO image.

Bootable USB Creation Tool

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I did a bit of looking around various blog posts and google searches to find a tool I liked. UNetbootin ended up being my choice for this article and my future use. It provides downloads for Windows, Linux, and MAC users.

UNetbootin

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After you have unzipped the tool and installed it to your desired location, run it....
Although the tool supports a very large number of Distributions, it also gives you the ability to choose a Diskimage

  1. Click Diskimage
  2. Click the browse elipses and select the ESXi
  3. Make sure that the correct Drive has been selected : WARNING - THIS WILL OVERWRITE THE CONTENTS OF YOUR USB STICK!
  4. Click OK
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The installer should not take very long to extract the necessary files and load them to your USB stick.

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If prompted to overwrite existing files, click Yes to All

Bootable USB Stick Ready!

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Once the process has completed, Click EXIT and eject your USB device.

It is now ready to be used to boot a system capable of booting from USB drive.

NUC Lab Kit

Below are my thoughts for a vSAN nuc lab. Since I already have cables, not including them here. I ordered (and received by Nov 30, 2016)
3 x nuc, 3 x 32GB Crucial mem, 3 x Toshiba NVMe drive, 3 x Startech USB to GB NIC, and 3 x Crucial 1TB SSD. I've also been very happy with my Cisco SG300-10 so I bought one more since my existing one only has one port available. Each of the items listed here are linked below - all were purchased using the provided links below.
single NIC (See this post for details on using the USB -> GB NIC item listed below

I stayed with the i5 for the power consumption and form factor vs. the i7 Skull Canyon ;)

 

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