Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 2/2)

In the first post, we created an ISO image of VMware ESXi 6.5 to install on our Intel NUC. Now we turn that ISO into a bootable USB and do the install.

Make Bootable USB

We’re going to use an application called Rufus to create our bootable USB, so download and install it. Now start Rufus.

Rufus - Select ISO

First, make sure that your to select your target USB flash drive in the Device drop down menu. Then, change the “Create a bootable disk using” drop down menu to “ISO Image” (call-out 1). Then click the image selection button (call-out 2) to find and open our customized ISO (ex. ESXi-6.5.0-4564106-standard-customized.iso ).

Rufus - Start USB Build

You should now see an updated new volume label which matches the ISO image you chose. Click the Start button to begin building the bootable USB (call-out 3).

Rufus - 'menu.c32' Warning

A warning may pop up about an older version of the ‘menu.c32’ file. This file is part of Syslinux and helps make the ISO/USB bootable. If we don’t replace the older version of the file then our USB won’t boot properly, so click Yes (call-out 4).

Rufus - Data Destruction Warning

Rufus will remind you, forcefully, that you’re about to wipe out all the data on the target USB drive. You backed up anything on the flash drive that you wanted to keep, right? If you’re sure you’re ready to continue, click OK (call-out 5).

Rufus - Building the USB

The bootable USB will now be built by Rufus. Rufus basically does a bit of work to make the USB drive bootable, and then extracts the contents of the ISO file to it.

Rufus - Finished

When finished, you’ll see that the device name has changed at the top, the green progress bar is full, and the status reads “READY”. Click the Close button to exit out of Rufus (call-out 6).

Now you can eject your USB drive as it’s ready for use as a vSphere ESXi installation drive.

Install ESXi on NUC

If you’ve installed ESXi before, this should be really straight forward, and I won’t bother with all the details. Essentially you need to make sure to connect your Intel NUC to a monitor and keyboard, and that the drive that you want to install ESXi into is either installed or plugged in. Remember that in my home lab example, that I’ll be installing ESXi on a USB drive. This means that both the USB drive that we’ve built to install ESXi from and the USB drive that we’ll be installing ESXi to have to be plugged into the NUC.

As a reminder, F10 will allow you to select your boot device on the Intel NUC.

In order to get the USB Ethernet adapter to work, we need to enable the ESXi Shell, login, and run the following command:

esxcli system module set -m=vmkusb -e=FALSE

Then log out of the shell, disable it again and reboot the host.

Bigger and Better Things

Now that we have successfully installed ESXi 6.5 onto our NUC, we can begin to do some fun and interesting things. Like, say, install ESXi on some more NUCs and then create a vSAN cluster. Stay tuned.

Featured image photo by ActiveSteve

Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He is a 9x VMware vExpert. You can find him on Twitter and Mastodon.

7 Responses

  1. @Mandivs says:

    RT @deeabson: New Post: Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 2/2) #homelab #howto #vdm30in30

  2. @deeabson says:

    ICYMI: Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 2/2) #homelab #howto #vdm30in30

  3. @deeabson says:

    ICYMI: Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 2/2) #homelab #howto #vdm30in30 #ICYMI

  4. Nabeel says:

    Hi, I get stuck at ” Relocating modules and starting up the kernel”
    I have tried the ignoreHeadless=TRUE append in boot but stil stuck

  5. Randy says:

    Thanks for the info, I installed 6.5 on my NUC with no issues, however, seeing very slow performance using the NUC to do very simple things like create a new VM and install the OS. Any ideas? I used to run 3 VMs using Workstation 12, and it worked much faster!

  1. November 21, 2016

    […] Now that we have our customized ISO, we need to turn it into a bootable USB and then install it on our NUCs. We’ll do just that in part two. […]

  2. December 8, 2016

    […] vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 (Mike Tabor) Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) (T.B.D.) Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 2/2) (T.B.D.) HOWTO: Deploy a vSphere 6.5 External Platform Services Controller (VCSA) (TheCloudxpert) […]

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