Booting VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 on Certain Dell Hardware

I recently attempted to boot a Dell Precision M6800 into ESXi 7.0u1 to test some functionality before going to prod. Unfortunately this was met with “Invalid Partition Table”, switching between UEFI and BIOS boot didn’t seem to fix it giving “No boot device available” instead. After searching online I found this, https://communities.vmware.com/t5/ESXi-Discussions/quot-Invalid-Partion-Table-quot-Error-booting-ESXi-7-from-USB/m-p/1823852 which had comments such as “just dont run on a laptop” which was not very helpful.
I spent a chunk of time playing with the partitions and seeing how they were configured. I noticed when I went into the UEFI on the laptop it said it couldn’t find any file systems available, but when I loaded Windows or Linux on the system, the UEFI could see those boot partitions. I tried updating the firmware like Dell recommended, with no change. I then realized the ESXi 7.0 image is FAT16 for the EFI partition, while all other EFI partitions I have seen are FAT32.

I copied the files and folder out of the boot partition, reformatted it with FAT32 instead of FAT16, marked it as EFI type (ESP in Gparted), and moved the files back. The system booted fine the first time, with ESXi running happily. If you need boot ESXi on a Dell M6800, or M4800, or other give that a try. If this worked or didn’t work for you leave a comment below.

One comment

  1. Thank you, you’re a livesafer!

    I got two phased out M6800 from my company I wanted to use to refresh my homelab which is running two Lenovo T420 in UEFI with no hassle. I tried many things including converting the gpt to mbr und changing to legacy boot. This worked in the beginning but the ESXi was not able to see its VMFS Partions once booted. Trying to boot with gpt in legacy boot resulted in an “invalid partition table” error. At least by pressing enter the machine would continue to boot. But that is not OK if you want to start these machines via Wake on LAN.

    Your solution worked perfectly for me!

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