Create a Bootable ESXi 7 USB Installer on macOS

Last year I posted a guide on creating a ESXi 6.7 USB Installer on macOS without any 3rd party tools. This is an updated guide using ESXi 7.0b. I’ve included a short video demonstration. Note, this guide is based on macOS only, if you are using Windows please use the Rufus utility.



Prerequisites

  • Download the ESXi Installation ISO (I used ESXi 7.0b)
  • A USB Flash Drive Minimum 8GB

Step 1

Open Terminal and list the mounted disks using the diskutil list command.

diskutil list

Step 2

Insert the USB Flash then run the diskutil list command again.

diskutil list

You should now see another disk show up, in my case disk3. Take note for the disk#.


Step 3

Now we need to format the drive with filesystem FAT32 and partition map MBR using the following command. Don’t forget to use the disk# number obtained in step 2.

diskutil eraseDisk MS-DOS "ESXI" MBR disk#

Step 4

Unmount the USB Drive, Note: This is not the same as Eject. Don’t forget to use the disk# number obtained in step 2.

diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk#

Step 5

Start the command line partitoner fdisk in interactive mode (You will need administrative privileges for this).

sudo fdisk -e /dev/disk#
  1. Flag the first partition on the volume as active and bootable. “f 1
  2. Write the changes. “write
  3. Quit fdisk. “quit
f 1
write
quit

Step 6

Mount the ESXi Installation ISO and copy all the contents from the ISO to the USB flash drive.


Step 7

Locate the file ISOLINUX.CFG on the flash drive and rename it SYSLINUX.CFG file.


Step 8

Edit the SYSLINUX.CFG file with TextEdit, Don’t use a Word program it will mess up the file. Find the line starting with APPEND -c boot.cfg and append -p 1 to it.

APPEND -c boot.cfg -p 1

Save and close the file and eject the USB flash drive.


Step 9

I booted the ESXi installer on my Intel NUC Skull Canyon successfully.


Here’s a Tip! the installer loads the files into memory so you can choose the same USB drive to install ESXi and boot from. Hope you enjoyed this guide.

17 comments Add yours
  1. any chance to integrate a custom Nic driver? could not find any solution if you are on a Mac and have no powershell

    1. Hi Manuel, No, these steps cannot incorporate driver injection, you will need to create an image profile. I was actually going to blog how to do that at some point, I might test that out on MacOS. What driver are you trying to integrate?

  2. Thank you!
    After a struggle and a lot of self doubt, I found your clear article which helped me get this taken care of!

Leave a Reply