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ESXi Getting Started Guide

How to deploy ESXi nodes using a pipeline.


This document assumes a working DRP endpoint with at least one machine that can be discovered.

If not done already, install the VMware plugin.

 $ drpcli catalog item install vmware

Setup Using Provided Bootenv

You will need to make sure you have the correct bootenv and ISOs necessary. There are several bootenvs provided by RackN.

$ drpcli bootenvs list | jq -r '.[].Name | select( . | contains("esxi"))'

If you find a version that works for you, either provide the ISO requested, or look at the bootenv documentation to determine where to obtain the ISO.

$ drpcli bootenvs show esxi_700u2a-17867351_rkn_vmware-install | jq -r '.Documentation'

Download the ISO from the location provided and upload it to DRP.

drpcli isos upload RKN-ESXi-7.0U2a-17867351-standard.iso


The ISO filename and sha256sum must match the BootEnv exactly.

Creating a BootEnv Override

If you are unable to find a bootenv that meets your needs, you can create a parameter that will override a bootenv to create the bootenv you need without creating an entire bootenv. See the following profile for an example.

Description: esxi 7.0U3l bootenv override
Documentation: |
  This profile will override the `esxi-install` bootenv using the `bootenv-customize` param, replacing the fields below in the bootenv rendering.  Because the ISO doesn't have our VIBs embedded, we set the `esxi/enable-legacy-install` param.
Name: esxi-7.0U3l-21424296
        Name: esxi-7.0U3l-21424296
            IsoFile: VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0U3l-21424296.x86_64.iso
            Sha256: 486d3d0cd394a1540d0f1560d887234e58308d3fbda40d74fe88c66fca08e85b
        Version: "703"
  esxi/enable-legacy-install: true


Included is the esxi/enable-legacy-install: true parameter. This is not recommended for production. This will not work with secure boot installations. It is recommended that you create a custom ISO that includes our VIBs if you are unable to find a bootenv that we provide that will work for you.

You can find the VIBs on the endpoint at https://ENDPOINT.URL:8090/files/plugin_providers/vmware/scripts/. Please review VMware documentation on how to create custom ISOs.

The bootenv-customize parameter takes the target bootenv (esxi-install in the example above) and substitutes the fields below. Please review the json-schema for bootenv-customize to see what fields can be overridden.

Upload the ISO provided in the bootenv-customize parameter.

drpcli isos upload VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0U3l-21424296.x86_64.iso 


The example profile above should be attached to either the global parameter, or the machine's bootenv must be set to esxi-install for the bootenv override to provide the bootenv and ISO files.

Customizing the ESXi Installation

Several parameters are provided to assist with common configuration scenarios. The following is a sample profile that includes some common configuration parameters.

Name: esxi-config
Description: Example ESXI profile
Documentation: |
  Sets some basic Param values for ESXi.
  esxi/disk-install-options: --firstdisk --overwritevmfs
  esxi/serial-console: gdbPort=none logPort=none tty2Port=com1
  esxi/shell-local: true
  esxi/shell-remote: true
  esxi/skip-notify: false
  esxi/skip-reboot: false
  esxi/skip-tools: true

Upload the new profile to the endpoint.

$ drpcli profiles create esxi-example.yaml

Creating the Universal Pipeline

It is possible to create a specific installation type. Below is an example pipeline profile.

Name: universal-application-esxi-7.0U3l-kickstart
  universal/application: esxi-7.0U3l-kickstart
  universal/workflow-chain-index-override: esxi-kickstart-deploy
  vmware/esxi-version-override: esxi-install

The key to declaring a pipeline is creating a profile with a Name that starts with universal-application-. It should have the universal/application parameter where the string value excludes the universal-application- section from the Name field. From the example, it is esxi-7.0U3l-kickstart.

The rest of the parameters are optional. The universal/workflow-chain-index-overrite parameter tells universal what workflow to run during the universal-chain-workflow stage of a workflow. The vmware/esxi-version-override will override the bootenv version to use. This works in conjunction with bootenv-override.


The last line of the example isn't needed if using a valid bootenv and ISO.

Putting It All Together

Using the bootenv or bootenv-override profile, ISO, and a pipeline defined, deploy some ESXi nodes.

$ drpcli machines addprofile Name:esxi1-node1 universal-application-esxi-7.0U3l-kickstart
$ drpcli machines addprofile Name:esxi-node1 esxi-config
$ drpcli machines workflow Name:esxi1 universal-discover