Booting ESX VMware Guest Machines from the Network


KB ID 0000310 Dtd 12/08/10


I do a lot of deployment testing for things like WDS, Ghost and SCCM. Now my test bed is entirely virtual, so any new technology testing, or proof of concept work is a lot easier.

Anything that involves PXE booting the VM’s is not turned on by default though.


1. Either from the VM itself, or from its entry in your VI client “Edit the VM’s Settings”.

edit vm settings

2. Options tab > Boot Options > Tick “The next time the virtual machine boots, force entry into the BIOS setup screen”.

vm boot to bios

3. Reboot the VM, and the BIOS will open, use the arrow/cursor keys go go across to the boot menu, then down to the network card. (Note your network card may be an Intel E1000).

boot order

4. Press the + “Plus Symbol” on the keyboard to move the network card to the top of the list > Press F10 to Exit > Select “Yes” to save the changes.

bios network boot

5. Now when the VM boots simply press F12 when prompted and the guest VM will attempt to boot from the network.

Note: If you having trouble booting to WindowsPE with VMXnet3 network cards see here.


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Author: Migrated

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