ESXi: Kickstart installs using CD-ROM or USB media

Kickstart and PXE are almost always used in conjunction, however you don’t have to use PXE to kickstart your installs. Fortunately you can provide the location of a kickstart even if you are using bootable media from USB and/or CD-ROM.

The process I’m going to describe here involves putting the kickstart(s) in a place accessible on the CD/USB media. This is particularly useful if you have an isolated network, a network that has limited resources or if you simply want to eliminate any questions during a manual install process. For example, I use kickstart to do the basic network configuration and the like, however there are very few things that can not bet set via the command line, so, you could, if desired, use kickstart as a method of configuration management. Or, you could simply have it do the install exactly the same as if you answered the questions when the default media is booted, but without actually answering the questions for each host.

You can also provide kickstart files from a web or NFS server even if you are using media. This can prove especially beneficial if you have frequently updated kickstarts (or a large number of them) and you don’t want to have to update the media when kickstarts are changed and/or added. VMware’s documentation describes how to provide the location if you are using web (http) or NFS as the method for providing the configuration.

The example I have here was done from a linux host (RHEL5 to be exact). All of this is reproducible in Windows, however I am not providing any documentation on how to do that.

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