Using IDE hard disks on VMWare ESXi 5.5

I’m sure this applies to other versions as well.

VMWare stores the configs, and files on the UNIX file system, which you have to edit by hand.  You can’t do this in the UI, as VMWare tries to be SCSI only.  But if you manually edit the files, you too can enjoy a virtual IDE disk.

You need to enable SSH access to the ESX server, or do this change on the console.  Configs live in:

/vmfs/volumes/<storage group name>/<virtual machine>/

So for example, mine is:

/vmfs/volumes/datastore1/UnixWare 7.1.1/

First, edit the .vmdk file.  You are looking for the line:

ddb.adapterType = “buslogic”

And you change the buslogic to ide like this:

# Extent description

RW 16777216 VMFS “UnixWare 7.1.1-flat.vmdk”

# The Disk Data Base

ddb.adapterType = “ide”
ddb.geometry.cylinders = “1044”
ddb.geometry.heads = “255”
ddb.geometry.sectors = “63”
ddb.longContentID = “8f535bb60df8d73a86c24853fffffff

The next thing is to alter the vmx file.  By default the hard disk will be on scsi0 and you’ll see something like this:

scsi0.present = “TRUE”
scsi0:0.deviceType = “scsi-hardDisk”
scsi0:0.fileName = “UnixWare 7.1.1.vmdk”
scsi0:0.present = “TRUE”

And what we do is rename the scsi0:0 to ide0:0

ide0:0.present = “TRUE”
ide0:0.deviceType = “disk”
ide0:0.fileName = “UnixWare 7.1.1.vmdk”
scsi0:0.present = “TRUE”

And you should be good to go.  The other (much easier) alternative is to try to use the legacy OS/2 profile as it’ll install an IDE disk by default.

IDE hard disk on VMWare ESX

IDE hard disk on VMWare ESX


You should check out sanbarrow’s guide to more options you can configure in your VMX file.

3 thoughts on “Using IDE hard disks on VMWare ESXi 5.5

  1. Thanks for sharing, that saved some time for me! I hate those stupid companies that force power users like me to use one workaround after the other, just because they don’t have enough imagination on how their products can be used!

  2. Thank you for this – also I really appreciate your note on “much easier” path – that is it. very simple. I was able to go to the options tab and change my machine to an “IBM/OS2 Terminated” – then the IDE option was there. Simple little work around. Also as an additional note – you can change the configuration back after you have the IDE drive added – if you don’t your processor options will be limited to a single processor single core.

    • Cool! It’s annoying that vmware dumbs down vm creation to the point of barely working, but I guess in the world of support, it’s cookie cutter, and don’t deviate from the golden path.

      I still run my OS/2 BBS on qemu, but I have it basically running on vmware ESX. Just got to pull the trigger

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