Tweak Your VMware ESX Server to Install on Non-supported Platforms (part:01; IDE HDD)

At the very first I want to say clearly this is NOT my invention, I just followed the notes from and summarized what I have done for my own and get it worked.

Before doing the task you have to have knowledge on linux/unix shell commands at intermediate level. My problem was, when I was trying to install VMware ESXi 3.5 on IBM ThinkCenter (Lenovo version: 8328-D57), it was giving me an error like ‘Unable to find a supported device to write the VMware ESX server 3i 3.5.0 image to….’ like below:

So, I checked my device PCI-ID from the ESX shell and found everything was on the list though it was not taking installation on my platform. Afterwhile I discovered it was not detecting my IDE HDD as it’s shell script was built to support only SCSI. So just modified the script to allow IDE device and it allowed me to install ESXi Server. Now let me explain the steps I have followed:

1. Accessing the ESX Shell Prompt:

It’s pretty simple, but need to know first ‘how to do’ because the options are not there to enter the shell in formal way. First, insert the ESX installation disk and load the image you would see the following screen:

Now press ‘Alt+F1’ and it will ask you the credential to access the shell. User username: root and nothing as password and press enter to get access.

2. To know if your devices are on the supported hardware/device list:

After you have logged in issue the command lspci -v to know your device PCI IDs:

Remember or note down the marked values, they are the PCI IDs of your devices, they are unique on model from different vendors. You need to get confirm your devices are on the list locate at /etc/vmware/ If your devices are not on the list, you have to modify the list and update the list with your device PCI ID, I shall discuss the procedure on later. You can open the file with VI editor to check and exit from there with the command :q without saving any modification. My devices were on the list, but it was showing the error, so I guessed my ESX is identifying my SATA controller but not detecting my IDE storage, so the next step will fix it.

3.  Modify your storage parameter to detect the IDE HDD:

First make sure your system is concerned about your IDE drive with the command ‘fdisk -l’, you will find your HDD there. Now VI the script /usr/lib/vmware/installer/Core/ and modify the last line from:

return interface.GetInterfaceType() == ScsiInterface.SCSI_IFACE_TYPE_IDE
return interface.GetInterfaceType() == ScsiInterface.SCSI_IFACE_TYPE_ISCSI

Save the script with :wq and exit from the shell with the command ‘exit’, afterwhile you will get the screen of error again but you have to press ‘Alt+F1’ again and issuing the command ‘install’. You will get the screen of installation again:

Press ‘Enter’ and right after then you should see your IDE HDD there 🙂

Congratulation! You will see your IDE HDD there and you will be able to install ESXi Server now.

Now I am waiting to follow the same tweaking on Dell Optiplex 960 model desktop I will get success I believe.


About Mijanur Rahman
Mijanur started blogging to save and share his study and research notes. A deep diver in technologies and loves to participate in technical brainstorming. Proud father of two wonderful daughters loves to spend time with them. He writes about the topics that people deal with every day mainly on technology arena. To get in touch contact him at

One Response to Tweak Your VMware ESX Server to Install on Non-supported Platforms (part:01; IDE HDD)

  1. Amit says:

    i have esxi 4.1 and i am trying to install it on Lenovo 1730B19 ThinkCenter and it is giving me error of

    vmkctl.HostCtlException: unable to load module /usr/lib/vmware/vmkmod/vmfs3: Failure

    when tried to install esxi 5.1 it is giving me error of network adapter does not exist.
    I was going through your article and was able to get into shell and list the pci devices and also noted down the device IDs.
    But when i tried to edit file i can see nothing in it.
    The command that i used was vi /etc/vmware/

    what should I do next? i have not idea how it works, please help me on this.

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