When VMware released ESX(i) 4.0 U1, they officially supported booting your OS drive from a paravirtual SCSI controller. Prior to U1 you could only use one of their other SCSI controllers such as BusLogic. However, when you try and install Windows with a PVSCSI controller it will not detect any mass storage devices since it doesn’t have the drivers. But where do you find the drivers?
I exclusively use ESXi so there are a few extra steps required to find the VMware boot floppies. Instead of installing ESX on a host to extract the tools, I found a better way for ESXi users that only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require using ESX.
Note that the PVSCSI drivers in ESX 4.0 Update 2 (U2) are the same as the ones in U1, so you don’t need to get new floppy images when you build VMware vSphere Update 2 VMs. The boot floppies work equally well on ESX.
1. Go to the VMware patch download page, select ESXi, then click on the search button.
2. vSphere 4.0 Update 2 was just released a few days ago, so I downloaded the upgrade-from-esxi4.0-4.0_update02 zip. You should be able to download any update that includes vmware tools.
3. Download 7Zip, if you don’t already have it and install it.
4. Using 7Zip open the zip archive and navigate deep into the archive tree to this path:
5. Extract all three floppy images (pvscsi_188.8.131.52-signed-Windows2008.flp, etc.) to a folder on your computer.
6. Using the vSphere client you can now attach these floppy images to a VM and Windows can use them during the installation process. You could also copy the floppy images to a VMFS datastore and mount them from there.
Now you can easily extract the PVSCSI controller floppy images from any ESXi patch bundle that includes updated VMware tools and use them to build Windows VMs. If you want more information on support and limitations of the PVSCSI controller type, check out this VMware KB article. For some performance data on PVSCSI controllers, check out this VMware technical paper.
Update: For vSphere 4.1, download the ESXi upgrade bundle then go to the following path using 7ZIP:
Update 2: If you want to directly integrate the drivers into your Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 ISO image so you don’t need to mount a virtual floppy during installtion, check out my blog post here.
Update 3: For people wanting to use ESXi 4.1 U1, grab the upgrade package (update-from-ESXi4.1_update01.zip) then use 7ZIP to navigate to: embeddedEsx4.1.0ESXi-4.1.0-update01vmware-esx-tools-light-4.1.0-1.4.348481.i386.vibdata.tar.gzdata.tar.4.1.0floppies. These floppy images have a datestamp of 1/12/2011.