Yes the title of this post is correct… ESXi unattended installation. Now that I’m staring down the barrel of ESXi installations as opposed to just PXE booting it (long story, let’s not go there… nothing to do with VMware, everything to do with finite engineering resources where I work), I thought I may as well automate it as much as possible. And while the steps I describe in this post don’t lead to a _completely_ unattended install, to be honest there’s not a helluva lot stopping you from creating a completely automated install if your target systems will only ever have a single non-SAN disk that will be your install target. In the interests of public safety, I haven’t gone that far for you. Besides, if you don’t know Python (not that I do, really) then here’s a good reason to take a little look at it and figure out how to do that for yourselves.
One of the more interesting design choices of ESXi 4.0 is that not only is a minimal Python environment available during installation, but it’s actually there in the final product too. This obviously opens up many possibilities for calling out from ESXi to external systems without the need for custom binaries. Yeh sure you could’ve done it with (b)Ash scripts in ESXi 3.x, but have you ever tried talking to web services via a (b)Ash script? Python definitely seems like it will be handy language to know in the VMware world, and they have some world class Python coders (like Christian Hammond) working for them.