Ways to handle optical disks through vSphere client settings

Connecting an optical disk to a virtual machine in order to access an installation image requires adjustments via the vSphere client settings.

To run installation files on a physical machine, you put a DVD in the optical disk drive. In a virtual machine,

there's no such thing as a DVD drive. Before installing a virtual machine, you will need to think about dealing with optical devices used by that virtual machine through the vSphere client settings.

If you don't define the optical device location, then the installation of the virtual machine will be difficult, unless you have a server that delivers the installation image to the VM while it's booting.

How to install on a virtual machine

When creating a virtual machine in vSphere client, you specify all properties of the virtual machine but not which optical disk to use. There are many options:

  • Connect to a physical disk in the disk drive of the machine that runs vSphere client.
  • Connect to an ISO image on the local disk of the machine that runs vSphere client.
  • Connect to a physical disk in the disk drive of the ESXi host.
  • Connect to an ISO image on a datastore on the ESXi host.
Access the optical disk options in vSphere client.
Figure 1. Selecting a device to connect.

Access these options by clicking on the Connect/disconnect the CD/DVD devices button in vSphere client after you have created the virtual machine. See Figure 1.

Perhaps the most efficient -- and convenient -- way is to copy ISO images into one of the ESXi data stores. I would recommend using the option to connect to D: -- the optical disk station on the local machine -- to install one virtual machine in a convenient way, and then make sure that all ISO images are available in the data store.

Open the browser window to add the ISO files.
Figure 2. Using the file browser to select the ISOs folder.

Before uploading the ISO files to the data store, create a folder in the data store that contains all ISO files. Log in to vSphere client and click the Configuration tab. Add ISOs to the existing data store by right-clicking the data store and selecting the option Browse Datastore. This opens a browser window as in the figure below. See Figure 2.

To create a new folder in the data store, use the Create a New Folder button and enter the name. Next, upload all the ISO files to the data store. To do this, make sure the ISO files are available on the vSphere client computer. Next, in the data store browser, click the Upload files to this data store button. Click to select either Upload individual files or Upload an entire folder to open a file browser and select the ISO file. The file will then be available in your virtual machine.

Select the virtual machine properties.

Figure 3. Define the optical disk from the virtual machine properties menu.

If you use the Connect/disconnect the CD/DVD devices of this virtual machine button, the optical disk will connect one time. But there are times when you may need a long-term connection. To do this, select the virtual machine properties for access to additional options, including the Device Status option where you can specify that the CD/DVD drive is connected at power on. See Figure 3. Also, you can specify on which exact IDE slot the optical drive is going to be available on the virtual machine.

This was first published in September 2013

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