ESXi 5.0 Installation on USB Stick

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VMware supports installation of ESXi 5.on a USB stick[1] as the article installation of VMware ESXi 5.0 shows. Of course, the 4-GB VFAT Scratch Partition, which is normally created during installation on a hard disk or a RAID volume by the ESXi installer, will be missing from the USB stick installation. The scratch partition serves for storing log files and vm-support output.

Scratch Partition on a USB Stick during ESXi Installation

Installing ESXi on a USB Stick without a local VMFS, so that there will not be a permanent scratch partition – ESXi will provide a warning about the permanent unavailability of system logging

When installing ESXi on a USB stick, a permanent scratch partition will not be created:

  • In this case, ESXi will use 512 MB of RAM as a RAM disk for the scratch partition.
  • The content of this scratch partition will be lost upon re-booting.
  • Virtual machines will not be able to use this 512 MB of RAM.
  • If a local VMFS datastore does not exist, ESXi will display a configuration error, because system logging has not been configured (see screenshot, right). If a local VMFS datastore does exist, VMware will automatically use it for storing log files.

Creating a Scratch Partition manually

Although it is not absolutely necessary, having a permanent scratch partition does make sense.

The following article will provide detailed information regarding the manual creation of the scratch partition.


The VMware VMDirectPath function can not be used with an ESXi installation on a USB stick. VMDirectPath writes the configuration in the /etc/ directory.[2] However, the contents of the directory /etc/ is not stored permanently when ESXi is installed on a USB stick.


  1. Installing ESXi 5.0 on a supported USB flash drive or SD flash card (VMware Knowledge Base)
  2. Configuring VMDirectPath I/O pass-through devices on a VMware ESX or VMware ESXi host (1010789) (VMware Knowledge Base)

Additional Information

Foto Werner Fischer.jpg

Author: Werner Fischer

Werner Fischer, working in the Web Operations & Knowledge Transfer team at Thomas-Krenn, completed his studies of Computer and Media Security at FH Hagenberg in Austria. He is a regular speaker at many conferences like LinuxTag, OSMC, OSDC, LinuxCon, and author for various IT magazines. In his spare time he enjoys playing the piano and training for a good result at the annual Linz marathon relay.

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