Unattended ESX install without DHCP

You should by now know that I like unattended installs of ESX, largely because I know that I don’t follow instructions, even the ones I write.

One of the labs in the VI3  DSA course is to do an unattended install, it used to be the first lb & now it’s the last lab.  Last week as I was teaching the DSA in Wellington NZ my students had a little problem with their unattended installs, they were unable to download the kickstart unattend file.   It turns out that the DHCP server in the lab was not behaving as we’d like.  After a quick Google round and found an article on Tradmill’s blog which lead me to the little nugget of how to pass the IP address instead of using DHCP.  Then the line on the grub screen changed from:

esx ks= method= /ksdevice=eth0


esx ks= method= /ksdevice=eth0     ip=

Sure it ain’t pretty but it does work. 

The ip=w.w.w.w:x.x.x.x:y.y.y.y:z.z.z.z looks like this:

w.w.w.w is the IP address for the local NIC

x.x.x.x is the IP address of the remote server to connect to

y.y.y.y. is the IP address of the default gateway

z.z.z.z is the subnet mask

This got the lab running and students were able to build their ESX servers without touching the keyboard again.

This week I’m working with a customer whose blade based ESX servers are in a datacentre without DHCP, so I’ve setup an iso file that builds the servers.  My isolinux.cfg file snippet changed from:

label esx
  kernel vmlinuz
  append initrd=initrd.img ks= method= /ksdevice=eth0


label esx
  kernel vmlinuz
  append initrd=initrd.img ks= method= /ksdevice=eth0     ip=

I’ll post about the iso image and how ESX 3.5 has made that a whole lot easier in a future entry.

© 2008, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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