Try Out VMware vSphere (ESXi) Hypervisor in VirtualBox 🌱

NOTE: This is a helpful exercise to get familiar with the VMware vSphere (ESXi) installation, user interface and terminology but is not recommended for production use and most, if not all, VMs created inside ESXi will fail to boot. Also, I tried these steps with the latest ESXi 7 version but the installer didn't have necessary networking drivers and would halt early on in the process.

  1. Open a web browser and navigate to
  2. Create an account or log in
  3. Once logged in, go to
  4. Click the Register button to register for the software and generate download links
  5. Copy the License Key listed on the page and paste it into a text editor for later
  6. Download the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.7 Update 2 Binaries .iso file by clicking the Manually Download button
  7. Launch Virtualbox
  8. Create a New VM by selecting Machine > New

    Name: VMware vSphere (ESXi)
    Machine Folder: C:\VMs
    Type: Linux
    Version: Other (64-bit)
    Memory Size: 8192 MB
    Hard disk: Create a virtual hard disk now

  9. Click Create
  10. On the Create Virtual Hard Disk dialog

    Name the virtual disk image VMware vSphere (ESXi).vdi
    File size: 500 GB
    Hard disk file type: VDI
    Storage on physical hard disk: Dynamically Allocated

  11. Click Create
  12. Select the VM and Click Settings
  13. Select System > Processor
  14. Give the VM at least 2 processors
  15. Check the Enable Nested VT-x/AMD-V
  16. Change the 
  17. Select Display
  18. Slide the Video Memory to 128 MB
  19. Select Network
  20. Set the attached to dropdown to Host-Only
  21. Select Storage
  22. Click on the CD-ROM drive
  23. Select the disc dropdown to the right > Choose a virtual optical disc file...
  24. Browse to and select the downloaded VMware vSphere (ESXi) .iso file
  25. Click OK
  26. Click OK to accept the settings
  27. Make sure the VMware vSphere (ESXi) VM is selected and click Start > Normal
  28. Wait a few moments for the installer to initialize
  29. At the Welcome screen press Enter
  30. Press F11 to accept the EULA and continue
  31. Select the 500GB VBOX HARDDISK > Press Enter
  32. Select a keyboard layout > Press Enter
  33. Enter and confirm a root password > Press Enter
  34. Press Enter to continue on the Errors/Warnings message
  35. Press F11 to confirm installing to the VBOX HARDDISK
  36. Wait for the installer to copy files and configure the system
  37. After the installation succeeds select Devices > Optical Drives > Remove disk from virtual drive 
  38. Press Enter to Reboot
  39. After the VM reboots, note the http address on the screen to manage the host
  40. Open a web browser on the host machine and navigate to http://IP noted above
  41. Login with the username root and the password set during the installation
  42. Welcome to VMware vSphere (ESXi) inside VirtualBox

Applying the Free ESXi License

  1. Inside the VMware ESXi web UI click the Manage link in the left navigation menu
  2. Click the Licensing tab in the top navigation menu
  3. Click the Assign License button
  4. Paste the license key noted during the download steps
  5. Click the Check License button
  6. After the license is validated, click the Assign License button
  7. The free license should be applied and the expiration date should now say Never