Digging deeper into templates and linked clones in VMware Workstation, we can create templates of ESX and ESXi. Using the previous post as a basis for the ESX template, it’s relatively simple:

Creating the template

When creating a virtual machine for ESXi, be sure to adhere to the 2 vCPU default value and the 2GB memory, as these are the minimum requirements for ESXi. There are, however, ways to reduce the minimum amount of RAM (see VCDX 007’s post). From experience, I know that selecting 1 vCPU also works. I’ve selected the LSI Logic SAS controller, and added three more Intel E1000 NICs to the configuration. Also, as I’m restricted in the amount of disk space, I’ve used a 2GB disk to install ESXi on.

One other thing to note, when you’re using the ‘hack’ to allow ESXi to boot with less than 2GB of memory is a chance you can’t add ESXi to vCenter.

Install ESXi

Just follow the default [F11] [Enter] installation procedure. A side note: ESXi does allow installation on a small 2GB drive:

Power off the VM after installation. Make sure that VM does not reboot and loads ESXi. This way, you are guaranteed a fresh, unique instance of ESXi. This prevents possible problems with generated SSL and SSH keys, among other things.

Make a snapshot of the VM

Deploying a virtual machine based on a template

After cloning and booting, ESXi is loaded with default settings. You can now assign a password, unique hostname and IP address settings. Make sure to reboot once after configuration.