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Found at: raymii.org:70/VMWare-ESXi-5-USB-installer.txt

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Title       : 	Create a VMWare ESXi 5  5.1 5.5 USB install disk
Author      : 	Remy van Elst
Date        : 	27-02-2013
URL         : 	https://raymii.org/s/tutorials/VMWare-ESXi-5-USB-installer.html
Format      : 	Markdown/HTML
If you need to install VMWare ESXi 5.1 and your shiny new server does not have a
CD/DVD drive but 8 SSD's, what do you do? You convert the ISO image to a USB
install disk.
This also works for the special HP version of ESXi with all the drivers.

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These steps come from the [VMware install guide][2], but the VMWare website and
their search function are both shit. And the steps in the manual don't
completely work, so here's the fix for it.
### Preparation
You'll need:
  * A working linux installation
  * The latest version of [syslinux][3]
  * A +2GB USB thumb drive
  * The VMWare ESXi 5 ISO (register and download from vmware.com)
Install required software:
    # This is for debian/ubuntu
    apt-get install dosfstools mtools syslinux
Insert your USB drive in your linux server and find the device name (dmesg), in
my case it was `/dev/sdc`.
### Preparing the USB drive
2We are going to completely format the USB drive, _ALL DATA WILL BE WIPED_.
    /sbin/fdisk /dev/sdc
  * Type `d` to delete partitions until they are all deleted.
  * Type `n` to create primary partition 1 that extends over the entire disk.
  * Type `t` to set the type to an appropriate setting for the FAT32 file system, such as `c`.
  * Type `a` to set the active flag on partition 1.
  * Type `p` to print the partition table.
The result should be similar to the following text:
    Disk /dev/sdc: 2004 MB, 2004877312 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 243 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
     Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
    /dev/sdc1 * 1 243 1951866 c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
  * Type `w` to write the partition table and quit.
  * Format the USB flash drive with the Fat32 file system. 
/sbin/mkfs.vfat -F 32 -n USB /dev/sdc1
Now we are going to install the syslinux bootloader to the USB device. Please
replace the path below with the location where your downloaded and extracted
version of syslinux is.
    syslinux /dev/sdc1
    cat /path/to/syslinux/download/mbr/mbr.bin > /dev/sdC
### Copy the ISO
First create two mount folders, one for the USB drive, and one for the ISO:
    mkdir -p /mnt/{iso,usb}
Now mount the VMWare ESXi 5.1 iso
    mount -o loop ./path/to/vmware-esxi-5.1.iso /mnt/iso
And mount the USB stick:
    mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt/usb
Copy the ISO over to the USB stick:
    cp -r /mnt/iso/* /mnt/usb
Go to the USB stick mount folder:
    cd /mnt/usb
Copy the `ISOLINUX` for `SYSLINUX`
    cp isolinux.cfg syslinux.cfg
Edit `syslinux.cfg`:
    vim syslinux.cfg
And change the line `DEFAULT menu.c32` to `DEFAULT mboot.c32`.
The file should look like this (mind version numbers):
    DEFAULT mboot.c32
    MENU TITLE ESXi-5.1.0-799733-standard Boot Menu
    NOHALT 1
    PROMPT 0
    TIMEOUT 80
    LABEL install
      KERNEL mboot.c32
      APPEND -c boot.cfg -p 1
      MENU LABEL ESXi-5.1.0-799733-standard ^Installer
    LABEL hddboot
      LOCALBOOT 0x80
      MENU LABEL ^Boot from local disk
Now unmount the USB drive:
    umount /mnt/usb
And you can boot from it and install ESXi.
   [1]: https://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=7435ae6b8212
   [2]: https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-51/topic/com.vmware.ICbase/PDF/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-51-installation-setup-guide.pdf
   [3]: http://www.syslinux.org
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