VMWare ESXI Step-By-Step installation guide

Published on: November 22, 2022 by Eric

VMWare ESXi is a powerful virtualization platform that enables users to create and manage multiple virtual machines on a single physical server. The platform provides a variety of features and capabilities, including resource management, security, and high availability. This blog gives an overall guide, from verifying hardware compatibility to creating virtual machines on the VMWare ESXi platform

Step 1: Check System Requirements

Before installing VMWare ESXi, it’s important to ensure that your server meets the minimum system requirements. The following are the minimum system requirements for ESXi 7:

  • 64-bit x86 processor with at least two cores
  • 4GB RAM minimum (8GB recommended)
  • 64-bit compatible network adapter

It’s important to note that VMWare ESXi is designed to run on server hardware, not desktops or laptops. You can find a full list of compatabile hardware on VMware’s Compatibility Guide.

Step 2: Download VMWare ESXi

To download VMWare ESXi you’ll need to visit the VMWare Customer Connect portal to sign up for an account. Once you’ve signed up, you can download the latest VMWare ESXi version on the products page

There are two versions of VMWare ESXi available: the free version and the licensed version. The free version has limited features, while the licensed version provides more advanced features such as vMotion, High Availability, and Distributed Resource Scheduler.

For this guide, we’ll just be using the free edition of VMWare ESXi, which allows us to create and manage virtual machines, as well as access basic features such as vMotion, High Availability (HA), and vSphere Update Manager (VUM).

Step 3: Create a Bootable USB Drive

Once you’ve downloaded the VMWare ESXi ISO file, you’ll need to create a bootable USB drive that you can use to install the software on your server. Rufus is a free and open-source tool for creating bootable USB drives. It is easy to use and supports various operating systems and installation media types. You can download the latest version from here

Once you’ve downloaded Rufus, you can setup the USB drive by following these steps:

  1. Insert a USB drive into your computer.
  2. Download Rufus and run the program.
  3. Select the USB drive you want to use from the Device dropdown menu.
  4. Under “Boot selection”, click the “Select” button and choose the VMWare ESXi ISO file you downloaded.
  5. Leave all other settings at their default values.
  6. Click the “Start” button to create the bootable USB drive.

Step 4: Install VMWare ESXi

Now that you have a bootable USB drive, you can install VMWare ESXi on your server.

  1. Boot from the installation media: For example, if you’re using a USB drive, restart the server and press the key to enter the BIOS setup utility (e.g. F2 or Del). Modify the BIOS settings to ensure that the USB drive is set as the first boot device, save the changes, and exit the BIOS setup utility. The server should now boot from the USB drive.
  2. Select the installation language: For example, select “English” as the installation language and click “Enter.”
  3. Accept the End-User License Agreement: Read the EULA and press “F11” to accept it.
  4. Select the target disk: You will need to select one of the disks from the list as the target disk for the VMWare ESXi installation. If you have multiple disks in your server, make sure to select the correct disk that you want to install VMWare ESXi on. If there’s any data on the target disk, it will be lost
  5. Configure the network settings: In this example, we’ll use the following settings:
    • IP address:
    • Subnet mask:
    • Gateway:
    • DNS:
  6. Set the root password: For example, set the root password to something generated by lastpass
  7. Begin the installation: Review your settings and press “F11” to begin the installation.
  8. Wait for the installation to complete: The installation process may take several minutes. Be patient and wait for the installation to complete.
  9. Log in to the ESXi host: After the server reboots, open a web browser on a computer connected to the same network as the ESXi host and enter the IP address you assigned in step 6 (e.g. You will be prompted to enter the username and password for the ESXi host. Enter “root” as the username and the password you set in step 7 as the password.
  10. You should now be logged in to the ESXi host and can start configuring your network and datastores!

Step 6: Configure the VMWare ESXi Datastores

  1. Log in to the ESXi host using the vSphere Client or the web client.
  2. In the vSphere Client, navigate to the “Storage” tab, or in the web client, navigate to “Hosts and Clusters” > Select ESXi host > “Configure” tab > “Storage” > “Datastores”.
  3. Click the “New Datastore” button to create a new datastore. You’ll be prompted to select the type of datastore you want to create, we’ll choose VMFS but your options include:
    • VMFS: a high-performance file system that is optimized for virtual machines.
    • NFS: a file system that allows ESXi hosts to access shared storage over the network.
    • vSAN: a storage technology that uses the local storage of ESXi hosts to create a distributed storage system.
  1. Follow the prompts to configure the datastore settings. In this example, we have a capacity of 500 GB for the datastore, and using thin provisioning so storage space is allocated as needed, alternatively thick provisioning pre-allocates storage space at the time of creation.

Step 7: Configure the ESXi Network

  1. Navigate to the “Networking” tab, and click the “Add Networking” button.
  2. Select “VMkernel Network Adapter” as the network type, and provide a name for the interface such as “DMZ”. Select the physical network adapter that you want to use for the interface.
  3. Follow the prompts to configure the network interface settings. Select the IP version (IPv4) that you want to use for the interface, and then specify an IP address and subnet mask for the interface. For example, use and subnet mask for the DMZ network interface and add your default gateway, DNS server, and other advanced settings as needed.
  4. Once the network interfaces are created, you can configure networking settings such as VLANs, teaming, and load balancing for both interfaces.
  5. To configure VLAN tagging for the network interfaces, select the interface and click the “Edit Settings” button. Follow the prompts to enable VLAN tagging and specify the VLAN ID that you want to use for the interface. For example, use VLAN ID 100 for the DMZ network interface.
  6. To configure NIC teaming for the network interfaces, select the interface and click the “Edit Settings” button. Follow the prompts to configure NIC teaming and specify the teaming policy that you want to use.
  7. After configuring the network settings, you can test the network connectivity by pinging the default gateway or other network devices. Open a command prompt on your workstation and ping the ESXi host and interfaces we have just setup

Step 8: Setting up our first Virtual Machine

  1. Navigate to the “Virtual Machines” tab, and click the “Create / Register VM” button.
  2. In the “Create New Virtual Machine” wizard, enter a name for the virtual machine, such as “Ubuntu Server”, and select the ESXi host and storage location for the virtual machine files.
  3. Select “Linux” as the guest operating system family, and “Ubuntu Linux (64-bit)” as the version.
  4. Select the virtual hardware configuration for the virtual machine. In this example, we’ll use 8GB of memory and 100GB of disk space.
  5. On the “Network” tab, select the network as the DMZ network we created earlier ()
  6. On the “CD/DVD Drive 1” tab, select “Datastore ISO File” and browse to the Ubuntu Server ISO, you can download this from Ubuntu
  7. Click “Finish” to create the virtual machine.
  8. Power on the virtual machine by selecting it in the “Virtual Machines” tab and clicking “Power On”.
  9. Follow the prompts to install Ubuntu Server on the virtual machine. This will include selecting language, time zone, partitioning, and creating a user account.