Howto: ESXi 4 in a VMware Workstation VM

electric cars Aug 19, 2009

ESX 4 (vSphere) can be installed into a VM without any tweaks to the machine or hacks.  It will actually just boot up and run.  If you want to run a VM in it you will have to edit the VMX config file and add a line to get it to work.

Here is a quick and dirty How To Install ESXi 4 in a VMware Workstation VM:


  1. Buy VMware Workstation, or pass your VCP and install it on your machine. [Workstation Download]
    (Or you could do this in VMware Fusion)

  2. Register for an ESXi license and Download the ISO to your desktop. [ESXi Download]


  1. Create a new Custom VM with the following specs:
  • Memory:     2GB
  • CPUs:         2
  • vHDD:        8-16GB (FYI – Big enough for ESX and a test VM)
  • CDROM:     Pointing to your ESXi ISO
  • Network:    Bridged
  1. Once the VM is created edit the following:
  • Remove anything not supported by ESX like the USB controller and unneeded items like the floppy.
  • You will need to set “Replicate physical network connection state” on the network card.
  • Select the Intel-VTx or AMD-V option for the CPU. Make sure VT is enabled in the BIOS of the machine.
  1. Add the following to enable VM’s to run in your ESXi VM (VM inside a VM hotness):

monitor_control.restrict_backdoor = “TRUE"

  1. Power the ESXi VM on and install it.

You should be able to take it from there.

Have fun Geekin’


Thanks to Xtravirt’s white paper on this. [Download]

FYI – My work laptop [A Dell D630 with 2GB of RAM] does not do this well!!! POS!


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