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Boot from iSCSI for ESXi 6.0
2017-08-15, 01:25
Post: #1
Boot from iSCSI for ESXi 6.0
I am brand new to iPXE and still (mostly) new to PXE in general. (The last time I worked with PXE was implementing RIS on Windows 2000 Server). I will be starting with a nested hosts (on ESXi 6.0 U2) and then moving on to real hardware (HP Proliant DL360e Gen8). In both cases I will be sticking with BIOS mode due to familiarity. I will be using Windows Server 2012 R2 as my DHCP server -- firewall disabled. My goal is to understand, at a high level, the order of operations that can be applied to both scenarios. That being said, much of what I have read so far here and elsewhere kinda assumes that the reader already knows the basic steps. With that in mind I have these questions:

1) Is there a way to do a basic boot from iSCSI manually as a proof of concept? I am able to get a the virtual machine's PXE client to boot the iPXE image. Attempts to load the ISO automatically have not been successful so far. I have configured an iSCSI LUN 2 GiB in size.

2) For the first boot to setup ESXi is it easier/simpler to mount the ISO out of band to PXE/iSCSI, i.e. use the virtual machine setting or iLO vs. trying to get PXE to load the ISO? (I can get fancy later using

3) When people make references to iPXE scripts are these scripts embedded into their compiled version of iPXE? If so, is there a way to chain this script such that the embedded script is relatively generic and then through other means (DHCP options?) direct the system to something more specific? Does boot.cfg need to be embedded too?

4) To compile iPXE for ESXi I see that COMBOOT ( needs to be included, other than the relevant drivers. Anything else?

Thanks in advance.
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2017-08-15, 14:11
Post: #2
RE: Boot from iSCSI for ESXi 6.0
1a. There is a decent Tutorial on Installing ESXi from an Extracted/Mounted ISO here:

1b. You need at least an 8GB LUN for ESXi 5.x or later to install.

2. Using the iLO4 is acceptable. The iPXE Script you invoke will need to set the Inititator IQN and specify the Target IQN. For installation, you will need to use SANHOOK. For subsequent boots you will need to use SANBOOT.

3: Embedding a script is one way to do it. Using DHCP PXE Option 175 is ultimately simpler, but depending on your infrastructure an Embedded script might be more practical (especially if you don't have complete control of the DHCP environment).

4: You will need CONSOLE_CMD as well. VLAN is handy only if you have Native driver support for your NICs (Broadcom 1GbE NICs are generally supported, 10GbE not so much).

"Thus far, you have been adrift within the sheltered harbor of my patience..."
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