Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X, VMware, VMware ESXi > OS X NetBoot now supported on ESXi 5.5

OS X NetBoot now supported on ESXi 5.5

VMware Fusion‘s support of NetBoot, combined with DeployStudio’s deployment flexibility, has given me the ability to quickly build VMs to desired specifications since VMware Fusion 5.x.

This ability has been hugely useful to me and I’ve long wanted that same flexibility when building ESXi-hosted VMs. With the release of ESXi 5.5, VMware has now included NetBoot support for OS X VMs on ESXi. This gives me the ability to build VMs on an ESXi host using the same DeployStudio-driven deployment process that I’ve been using to build VMs in Fusion.




Needless to say, this greatly simplifies my build process and all but eliminates any need for me to build OS X VMs in Fusion first and then transfer them to an ESXi server. Thanks to the folks at VMware who built this support into ESXi; it’s going to make life a lot easier for Mac admins who want to virtualize OS X.

  1. September 29, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Hey Rich,
    What is your host? A MacPro or Xserve?
    Also, I see you are using VSphere client app, is the web client that now supports OS X, free as well with the free ESXi?
    Best regards


    • September 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      At home, I’m using a 2011 Mac Mini as my ESXi host.

      I’m using the free ESXi license on this machine, so the Windows vSphere client and SSH / esxcli are how I’m managing it. The VMware web client isn’t available when using the free license.

  2. September 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Thank you,
    Do not have a “production” ESXi as well? (Gathering opinions)


  3. September 30, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve got production ESXi running on an Xserve. ESXi on a flash drive while all hosts are on an NFS mount to allow for vmotion…. all working very happily! Quick deployment from Netboot does indeed sound fun – I’ve just been keeping the dmg installer on the NFS storage and running through the install when I need a new machine (read, infrequently!)

  4. Andrei Labin
    October 3, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Unfortunately, ESXi 5.5 has no hardware-compatibility for Apple hosts yet so this amazing feature I’ve been waiting for will not see the AC of our server rooms. As such, not available for production. I’ve tried on MacPro 3,1 and 5,1 -> will not work reliably.

  5. Casper
    December 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I have been running ESXi 5.1 U1 on a Mac Pro 3.1 used in production. Both as a standalone and added to vcenter. Works fine.

  6. July 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Heya, Rich, I’m trying to get netboot working on ESXi5.5 on a new Mac Mini. I’m seeing the globe spin on the VM, and the following gets logged on the server, but no netboot image is served (or received).

    BSDP DISCOVER [en0] 1,0:c:29:a0:64:54 NetBoot1301 arch=i386 sysid=VMware7,1
    BSDP OFFER sent [1,0:c:29:a0:64:54] pktsize 375

    Do you know of a way to “option-boot” within ESX so that available netboot image are listed?


  7. Wes Brown
    January 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I’m trying to find out if ESXI 5.5 supports running a NetBoot Server off of a VM. Does it do that?

    • Andrei Labin
      January 16, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Why yes, absolutely. I’ve been happily running Netboot and Deploystudio servers in VMs since ESXi 5.0

      • Wes Brown
        March 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm

        Very strange. Did you have to set anything extra? I’ve tried on two installs at two locations with no luck.

  8. alanft
    January 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I’m missing a step somewhere. Changing the “Startup disk” in the guest vOSX doesn’t do anything – and I don’t see anything in VMware fusion there’s no Startup disk pane in the settings for ESXi hosted VMs. Can it be set only from the latest windows ESXi client?

    • alanft
      January 16, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      a minute after i wrote that, I found the “Force EFI setup” option in the vSphere Client’s VM “edit settings”. BUT that didnt really help. I got to a low level boot menu which gave a choice including network booting, but when used the VM hung at a black screen with a single full stop on it

  9. April 26, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I can’t seem to get a Mac VM (in vSphere 6) to netboot unless it has an empty hard drive. In this case it netboots to my default image just fine. What’s the trick to netboot a VM on demand?

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