VMWare ESXi is a virtualization system that allows you to run multiple virtual machines on the same host. VMWare has recently released a version of the MRA so we can install it on Raspberry Pi.
But, uh… how do you say that… we’ve seen simpler systems for
installation The official installation guide is almost 20 pages long, but I’ll summarize it for you here.

VMWare ESXi Arm Edition is available on the VMWare Flings website.
Before installing the Raspberry Pi BIOS, several settings need to be changed.
The system can then be installed on a USB stick and operated from there.

In this short introduction it may sound simple, but I can guarantee that it is probably the most complicated system I have ever installed at Raspberry Pi.
So stay with us and I’ll explain everything step by step so you can still do it by your side.

For installing VMWare ESXi

Before proceeding to the installation part, I would like to tell you a little about what we are going to do and what you need to know and do in this tutorial.

What is VMWare ESXi?

VMWare ESXi is known by many companies for its virtualization software (also a very popular alternative to Microsoft Hyper-V).
I use it at work, for example, to run multiple Linux systems and place different services on each of them.
This eliminates the need for a physical server for each system and also provides advanced features such as clustering, high availability and full data protection.

That’s it for the general idea, my goal here is to go too far in introducing VMWare ESXi.
If this is the first time you’ve heard about it, you’ll probably need to ask for more details before continuing.
But whatever your current level is, I’ll show you how to install it on your Raspberry Pi.

VMWare now has an ARM version of the ESXi system.
It is currently available under the Flings brand (as a lab, if desired, without full support in the main product) and works well on Pi Raspberry (at least on Pi 4 with 4 GB RAM or more).

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Overview of the raspberry pipe installation

As I said before, the installation procedure is not the easiest way to install the system.
We need to see some steps:

  • Requirements : To install VMWare ESXi on Raspberry Pi, you will need, as usual, an SD card and at least two USB keys. I’ll explain later.
  • Step 1 – UEFI Bios : In order to use VMWare ESXi, we need to download the UEFI firmware. This is the main purpose of the SD card in this installation. We access the Raspberry Pi BIOS, change a few things and then start on a USB stick.
  • Step 2 – Installation : The VMWare ESXi installation wizard is on a USB stick, we start it to install the system somewhere (maybe on the same USB stick or on a different one).
  • Step 3 – Storage : Once you are in the ESXi, you will need another USB stick to run the virtual machines inside. On a standard server it is the same, the system and the virtual machine storage are not on the same disks. Step 3 is to configure this location.
  • Step 4 – Create a Virtual Machine : Finally, I will show you how to create your first virtual machine. When everything else is done, it’s the same process as on any server.

Now that you’ve got the big picture, let’s look at the details…


In summary, you should start with the following:

  • Crimson pi : I recommend Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM if you really want to use this system in the long run. If it’s just for testing, you still need Raspberry Pi 4, but 4 GB is enough.
  • SD card : Any model is good, just start loading the UEFI, so we won’t really use it once VMWare is launched.
  • The first USB stick: It records the ESXi installation image, but can also run the system afterwards. Depending on your goals, it can be a USB master key or a USB SSD for better performance. You don’t need that much storage space, 16 GB is enough.
  • Another flash drive: The previous one is used to install the system, it is used to host virtual machines. For this purpose, a USB SSD seems really useful, because it directly affects the performance of your virtual machines.
  • (Optional) A third USB stick: I find it a bit strange to overwrite the USB installation key with the system. Another possibility is a third USB stick for the final installation of VMware ESXi. It is useful to leave the installation key intact in case you need to reinstall it later, for example.

If you are using USB drives instead of USB drives, make sure they are powered by an independent power source or use a self-powered USB hub.
The Pi raspberry will probably not be enough to power two or three USB sticks at the same time.

As soon as everything is ready, you can continue with the assembly section.

Installation of VMWare ESXi ARM Edition

Raspberry PiFirmware Update

The first thing you need to do is to update the Raspberry Pi firmware to enable the USB download function.
If you have used this feature in the past, you can skip this step, just do it once for each Raspberry.
If not, here’s the procedure to follow:

  • Start with Raspberry Pi OS, if you have one, or empty a new SD card with Raspberry Pi OS on it (the Lite version is sufficient).
    Read this guide if you need extra help.
  • System update:
    sudo apt update
    sudo apt update
    sudo apt full update
  • Firmware update:
    sudo rpi update
    sudo rpi eeprom update -d -a

After rebooting your Raspberry Pi, it can now be booted via USB.

Hint: Another possibility is to use the EEPROM recovery startup image in the Raspberry Piimager.

SDmemory card preparation

Then we can make an SD card.
As I have already explained, all we need on this SD card is the UEFI Raspberry Pi firmware to access the BIOS and download VMware from there.

  • Format the SD card in FAT32.
    If you are only using the SD card to update the firmware, just erase everything on it (or format the partition).
    If it is a brand new SD card, you need a tool in your operating system to create a new partition.

    • In Windows, you will probably receive a formatting request after you have logged in. You can also go to the Disk Management Tool and create a partition there.
    • Under Linux you can use the command line (tutorial here) or a tool like Gparted to do it from within the GUI.
  • Download these two files :
  • Get them out, each in a separate folder.
  • Scroll to the first folder (firmware master).
    Copy all files in the boot subdirectory to an SD card, except the files starting with the kernel.
  • Then navigate to the second folder (RPI4_UEFI_Firmware_vX.X)
    Copy all files to SD card
    Confirm overwrite when prompted.

The SD card is ready to use, you can insert it into Raspberry Pi, but not operate it at this time.

Preparing the USB stick

The second step is to create a USB stick with a VMWare installation image.
That’s how we do it:

  • Go to the website of VMWare Flings and download the ISO ARM file.
  • A VMWare account is required to access the file download.
    You will receive an evaluation license for 180 days, but after that you can use it for free (with fewer features, but the most important ones will remain activated).
  • Once the file is downloaded, you can use a tool such as Balena Etcher to transfer it to a USB stick:
    • Download Etcher and install it if necessary.
    • Launch the application, a window like this will appear:
    • Select the VMWare ISO file on the left, then your USB stick and click the Flash button!
    • You will receive a warning, as this is not a startup image, confirm the continuation.

After a few seconds the USB dongle is ready, you can connect it to Raspberry Pi and the next step is to open the BIOS menu to start the setup wizard.

BIOS settings

Start Raspberry Pi with the SD card and USB stick connected.
Then follow these steps:

  • Immediately after the iridescent screen you will see a screen you probably never saw before:
  • Press ESC to open the BIOS menu.
  • Then go to Device Manager > Raspberry Pain Configuration > Advanced Configuration
    You can use the arrow and input keys to navigate through this menu.
  • Disable the 3GB RAM limitation:
  • Press ESC several times to return to the main menu and confirm with Y to save the changes.
  • Then go to Download Service Manager > Download Options > Change Download Sequence.
  • Here you can install the USB stick as the first
    boot device (press + to move it up).
    Select Lock changes and exit.
  • Then click Continue in the main menu to exit the BIOS and start the VMWare installation.
    If you get something like this, you are good:

Wait a few minutes until the system boots up (it’s time for the coffee break!) and go to the next step.

VMWareSoftware installation

If you have decided to install it with a third USB stick, you need to plug it in now.
As soon as the yellow screens disappear, a configuration menu for system installation appears.
It’s simple, these are the steps:

  • In the first message, press Enter to continue.
  • Accept the F11
    license agreement if you use the same keyboard as me, probably something like Fn+F9 to do F11.
  • The wizard scans your local devices and displays the available USB sticks to install the system.

    If you only have one, just press Enter to continue.
    If you have two or more, select the one you want to install the system on (after which you always have to leave it logged in).

  • Then select the keyboard layout and press Enter to continue.
  • Finally, enter the root password.
    You need something with different kinds of characters, I don’t know the rules exactly, but try something like letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Now just start the installation by pressing F11

The installation is more or less long, depending on the device used, but on a simple USB stick it takes about 10 minutes.

The wizard will ask you to uninstall the installation media, of course only if you have at least two USB sticks. With only one copy, the system is now on a USB stick, so you have to leave it connected.
An SD card is also required to start the system automatically.

Initial start-up according to ESXI

At the end of the installation, press Enter to restart the purple beer.
Raspberry Pi should start automatically from the SD card that first loads the USB stick.
Otherwise go back to the BIOS menu, you probably have to correct the boot order (especially if you are using a different USB stick).

After that you will see a yellow screen again and start the VMWare ESXi system.
There’s nothing we can do about it right now..

Once the system is fully functional, you will be able to access the web client at http://.
The IP address is displayed on your screen.

Continue with VMWare ESXI

Well, everything’s fine, VMWare ESXi is now installed on your Raspberry Pi.
But now you probably need a little more help to use it and create your first virtual machine on it.

If you’re used to ESXi, it’s almost the same as usual, I’ll give you just one piece of advice to create a data warehouse because I had trouble finding a solution.

Construction of a Data Warehouse

It is not possible to create a data warehouse on ESXi by default.
When you insert the USB stick, it is installed automatically so that you can use it in a virtual machine without any problems.
However, in order to create a storage partition, you must follow these steps:

  • Log in to the web client.
    The username is root and the password you chose during installation.
  • Activate SSH
    Right-click the host in the left menu
    Go to Services and click Enable Secure Shell (SSH).
  • Use Putty or another SSH client to access the Raspberry Pi command prompt.
  • Log in with the same username and password.
  • Enter two commands:
    /etc/init.d/usbarbitrator stop
    chkconfig usbarbitrator from
    This stops the USB service that automatically mounts USB drives and turns them off during boot.
  • Insert the USB stick.
    Try USB 3.0 (blue) ports, which are at least faster for this data storage (ideally both disks should be there, but this is not always possible).
  • To be sure, convert a USB stick to msdos instead of gpt
    . This may not be necessary on your system or from a floppy disk, but like me on Windows, all my USB sticks use the GPT format.

    • Get a device ID in the
      web client Go to Storage > Devices.
      Click on the USB stick you want to use (you may need to disable/plug it in to refresh the screen because the USB arbitration service is disabled).
      Watch the Path field.
    • Switch to msdos with the following command:
      partedUtil mklabel /dev/disks/mpx.vmhba32:C0:T0:L0 msdos
      The path to the device in your system may be different.
      I still have to set up a data warehouse.
  • You can now create disk space (a storage disk for your virtual machines) from your web client:
    • Go to Storage > Data Storage
    • new online store
    • Choose a name for this data warehouse (e.g. storage1).
    • Select the USB device for which you want to use the

      By the way, this is any USB dongle only for screenshots, I do not use it.

    • Then select the formatting options.
      I advise you to use a full hard disk, because you always leave it connected.
    • And click Finish to format your disk and create a new data storage.

Wow, that’s right, your data warehouse is up and running.
All this is for special tips you need to know to install ESXi on Raspberry Pi, but if you are new to the system, I will also tell you about the creation of the first virtual machine.

Creating a virtual machine

We installed the system, the datastore is ready for the virtual machines, all we have to do is create them.

Here is the procedure for creating a new virtual machine:

  • Click on Virtual Machines in the left menu.
  • Click the Create / Save VM button.
  • A wizard appears and asks whether you want to create a new device, use a pre-assembled device or register an existing device.
    I’ll show you the first case, and for the other two you can easily find help online.
  • Then enter the name of the virtual machine and the operating system you install on it:
  • Select the memory you want to use.
    This must be Data Warehouse 1 we just made.
  • You can then configure the configuration of the virtual machine:

    Remember that you are on Raspberry Pi, so the resources are not unlimited.

  • For the CD/DVD drive chain, select Use data storage iso file and boot the image with the system you want to use
    The easiest first attempt is to use a clean Debian ARM64 installation image (available here).
    For other distributions, see what you can find, or follow the instructions on the linked website below (you’ll probably have to use qemu to convert an image file to a VMWare player file).
  • Click Next and Finish to complete the virtual machine creation.

The virtual machine is now available, just let it run to install the system.
To communicate with a virtual machine, you can use an HTML viewer or install an external console to get more features and better keyboard support (especially if, like me, you don’t use an American keyboard).Data: image/svg+xml.

Installing Debian took a very long time (a few hours), but I’m not optimized at all, so it’s probably better to have a decent hard drive (hopefully).

If you want to continue using ESXi-ARM, I advise you to visit this website, which contains many lessons on how to install specific systems on this system, or advanced configuration tips.


Very soon a video will appear on the YouTube channel where you can see me installing VMWare ESXi on my Raspberry Pi.

Subscribe to the channel now if you don’t want to miss it!


In summary, this version of VMWare ESXi works well enough for the ARM architecture. The installation is a bit complicated the first time because you have to understand the different steps, but I hope my guide here is easier than the official one.

In real life I don’t know if I’m going to use this system, because I don’t see a case where it could be useful to me. But if you want to host different services, test x64 systems or whatever, you can do it directly on Raspberry Pi.

Let me know what you think and how you are going to use it in the following comments, I am interested in reading your stories.

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