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This blog is written by Rohith Radhakrishnan from Dell Hypervisor Engineering team.

This blog is specific to VMware ESX 4.x Classic Edition only.

The common method of installing VMware ESX 4.x classic edition on servers is by installing it manually using a CD ISO image. This blog focuses on a failure and its resolution while trying to install custom drivers during the installation of VMware ESX Classic 4.x edition on Dell servers. Latest Dell PowerEdge servers provide different modes for Embedded SATA controller like AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface), ATA etc.

If the Embedded SATA Controller is set to AHCI mode in BIOS, the user  will not be able to add custom drivers during VMware ESX 4.x Classic installation phase. During installation, the installer provides an option to install custom drivers if any. Upon Selecting ‘Yes’, it invokes “Insert an ESX Driver CD with the ESX drivers that you wish to use” pop up window as below

Though the Add button is pressed, it is seen that CD/DVD drive does not eject itself automatically.  Manually ejecting the CD/DVD drive and providing a driver CD Media results in an error message “The CD provided is not a valid VMware ESX Server Driver CD” as shown below . This error is displayed even though a valid ESX driver CD is provided.


The reason for the failure is due to AHCI driver unavailability at the point of custom driver addition. Note that the issue is specific to providing custom drivers during install when CD/DVD mode is set to AHCI ONLY.

To resolve this issue, perform one of the following

  • Go to  BIOS settings and change the SATA Controller mode from AHCI to any other mode (Eg: ATA mode.) and restart installation.
  • Use a USB CD/DVD drive instead of Embedded SATA CD/DVD drive.
  • Use Dell iDRAC vMedia to install VMware ESX 4.x.

Refer VMware KB for additional details.