Solved: setup can’t find hard drive in Windows XP Pro install on ESX 3.5

by Eddy on

This is my first Windows XP professional installation on VMware ESX 3.5 where i started the installation using VMware virtual center client. I have to add some BIOS boot delay to select local PC boot device CDROM. I managed to get into BIOS and selected CDROM as boot device for Windows XP professional virtual desktop. I get into installation screen and hit enter to begin the XP professional installation but then i get the error message that setup cannot find the hard drive.

This happened because Windows XP professional doesn’t have the driver for LSI Logic SCSI adapter. I had created Windows XP professional virtual machine by selecting typical option in virtual machine configuration. That was the first step you should be aware of when you create Windows XP virtual machine. I was able to solve the hard drive issue in Windows XP professional install on VMware ESX server in following steps:

1. Make sure when you create the VM you choose custom under VMware ESX virtual machine configuration wizard, which will then ask you to select the SCSI adapter type. You have to select the BusLogic driver in VMware ESX Windows XP configuration wizard. If you have already created the Windows XP professional virtual machine on VMware ESX server then you can edit .vmx file to change the SCSI adapter type to Buslogic. Surprisingly even after changing SCSI adapter type to Buslogic Windows XP professional setup can’t find the hard drive.

2. You have to download the Buslogic SCSI driver (floppy image) for Windows XP professional on VMware site.

Download Windows guest operating system driver from VMware. This driver works with Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 servers. Later on I find out that there is Windows XP Buslogic driver available in VMware ESX default install under floppy datastore , you can mount the floppy image from existing datastore by selecting “Connect on PowerOn” box after you booted the Windows XP.

3. Started the Windows XP installation by powering on the VM, When prompted to add ‘Additional SCSI Drivers‘, press F6 (Function key button). Connect your VMware ESX floppy disk ISO (flp) image of the Buslogic SCSI controller driver , then press the ‘S‘ key to specify an additional device. The Windows XP installation process should now read this ISO file and will detect the controller drivers. Press the ‘Enter‘ key to continue. The Windows XP Professional installation this time finds (detected) the hard drive without any issue.

This is how i solved the disk driver issues when my Windows XP professional installation couldn’t detect the hard drive. I hope this will someone having similar issue.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

James Herbert March 27, 2009 at 11:59 AM

I’m so glad somebody posted this. Now can you help me out with the vmare / 3rd part cetificate issue I’d appreciate it. :-)

Well done. Thank you!

Joshua April 1, 2009 at 8:58 PM

James .can you explain what do you mean by vmware/ rd part certificate issues .. may be i can help.


Thomas Smith December 22, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Likewise thanks for posting this. We’ve been trying to figure out why we couldn’t get the XP VMs to see the hard drives for a couple days now, had no idea about the VMware SCSI boot floppy image.

Just a note it does appear that you may not have this problem on certain hardware platforms. We loaded our ESX 3.5 server on a Dell R610 with SAS hdds and did have the issue another server was loaded on an older Dell PowerEdge with SATA drives and they did not have to load a 3rd party SCSI driver during the install.

Brian December 29, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Thanks for the post! Worked like a charm!

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