I recently had a bit of VMware Nostalgia and for the past several weeks, I have been working on a personal skunk works project in trying to locate all major ESX and ESXi releases over the past 22 years including ESX Server 1.0 which was released by VMware back in 2001!
To my surprise, finding a digital copy of ESX pre-2.0 (1.0 & 1.5) was much harder than I had expected. Back in those early days, software was not commonly distributed over the internet like it is today, instead it was sent to vendors to create physical CD/DVD discs, which was then shipped to customers and partners. I had also reached out to many tenured folks at VMware who were still around from the early days, but each response lead to another set of folks and it typically either went in a circle or to a dead end. This was turning into an archeological hunt.
I decided to give it one more shot and I pinged John Arrasjid aka VCDX #1 and after a bit of searching, John actually found a pristine copy of ESX Server 1.0, still sealed in the box! Given how difficult it was to locate a 1.0 copy of ESX, we thought it was worth opening up and to preserve this VMware history by creating a digital ISO image, so that I could then share the experience of installing ESX 1.0 with the broader VMware community.
Cleaning up & found unopened ESX 1.0.1 box (2001). Opened created ISO for @lamw to test install on modern h/w. Interesting discoveries already. I recommend you read his posts on his testing. By the way, anyone in need of older Sun equipment I’m recycling? DM me. pic.twitter.com/jNPeWW3MYR
— John Arrasjid (@vcdx001) March 29, 2023
This was a real treat for myself because ESX 2.5 was the first ESX version that I had started working with and I never had the opportunity to experience releases prior to that version before. What was also really cool was that you can still find a copy of the official ESX 1.0 documentation on the VMware website, which I definitely had to reference as this was brand new territory for me 😁
Thank goodness for Nested Virtualization, I was able to install ESX 1.0 into a VM without any issues! Without further ado, here is a video recording of me installing ESX 1.0 for the very first time
ESX 1.0 was not the only version I had a challenge acquiring, I also was not able to find anyone with a copy of ESX 1.5. In fact, I still have not found anyone with that version. If you know someone who might have ESX 1.5, be sure to drop me a message! However, I was able to get my hands on an ESX 1.5.x release with the help from Hans Bernhardt aka Mr. Rubber Chicken who still had a physical copy of ESX 1.5.2, pictured below and he was able to create an ISO image for me.
For the remainder ESX and ESXi releases, I was able to obtain the respective ISO installers. After a few days of testing and some trial/error, I can now say I have installed all major ESX and ESXi versions over the past 22 years! I will publish the remainder installation videos in the coming weeks so that it can be enjoyed by everyone and who knows, it might even sparked some personal nostalgia for yourself on the version of ESX or ESXi that started your own VMware career. I will also share how I was able to install all version of ESX and ESXi in a future blog post, mostly for archival and historical purposes in case anyone is intersted.
For more fun facts and observations about the various ESX and ESXi releases over the years, checkout this twitter thread below for some more cool tidbits.
Anyone remember these terms? vswif0, vmnix, COS, vmware-cmd, LILO, vmkpcidivy, anaconda 🤔
My recent personal skunkworks project has brought back so many old & new memories. In the past few days, I got to experience the past 22yrs of @VMware across all major ESX(i) releases! 😅 pic.twitter.com/mYWmxiLJww
— William Lam (@*protected email*) (@lamw) April 2, 2023
Tim Dressel says
You want to impress me? Pull up a copy of GSX! That was my first VMware!
And the real fun would start when you try upgrading ESX 1.0 to very latest 8 by jumping one major version to another.
Well, it actually might not be possible at all. I no longer remember if in-place upgrade from ESX to ESXi was doable, but I think it wasn't...
William Lam says
Yea, this won't be possible due to various architectural changes over the years with ESX and there was also no in-place upgrade from ESX to ESXi
You could still create a VM on version 1 that you move to newer version as you upgrade. The HCL differs for each version so you will probably need to have quite a few old and new servers to make this possible unless you can do it virtually.
Jeff Newman says
Another term I remember: MUI (ESX 2.5.x)
William Lam says
Yup, good ol MUI, which was actually there from very start with 1.0 https://twitter.com/lamw/status/1642922214206091266/photo/2 (more fun facts on Twitter thread, which I referenced in blog post)
Mourad REBAI says
When I was working at VMware; while moving desk, I did find a CD of ESX 2.5.
Then as a joke, I did present it as the new VMware products : and the joke worked!
In fact 2.4 was the first ESX that I did test when I was working at DELL.
The funny think, is that the ESX 2.4 was full HTML interface.
And now, with ESXi 8.0, we are back to full HTML interface.
Funny is it?
The MUI had a cgi based HTML interface. Today we have an HTML5 interface. In between we've had both .Net, flash and JSP based interfaces. Well, I guess JSP was only for vCenter, but rarely of any use since the .Net client was the standard.
Duane Hakala says
First VMware product was VMware Server 1.0 and then went right into ESX 3.5 in mid 2008.