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Tricks for getting a VM to boot from CD – bios.bootDelay

press F2 to enter setupIf you’ve used any of VMware’s products you’ve probably been frustrated by trying to boot a VM from CD. Not when you install the OS, but after the VM has been operating. For example when you need to grow the size of the virtual disk and you try to boot the VM from the GParted LiveCD. The VM’s BIOS is set to boot from disk first, so you need to change the boot device order. The problem is that the boot process is so fast it seems you have less than a second to hit F2 and enter Setup, and you have to be really quick with your mouse getting the cursor inside the VM. I bet you never thought you could get aggravated over a server booting too fast! Here’s the two methods I know of to catch the VM during boot so you can enter Setup.

The first method is to

keep your mouse inside the VM’s console window and start pressing F2 upon rebooting. Start from the running VM and reboot it or use CRTL + ALT + INS if you can. Watch for the black screen with the white VMware logo. That’s when you need to hit F2. Hitting F2 repeatedly is your best bet if it’s too quick. Simple, but effective.

Recently I discovered a second method from which requires modifying the .vmx file of the VM to delay the boot. VM boot screen timeout is a post which explains that you can add the following line to any .vmx file

bios.bootDelay = “boot delay in milliseconds”

For example, a setting of 15000 gives you 15 seconds to hit F2. I add the setting usually somewhere at the top of the .vmx file, but I do not think the position of the setting matters.

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  • 3am, thx


  • Petew

    This just saved my bacon. It lead me into how to boot from CD and repair windows. You are a top bloke.

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  • John

    Great piece of information…. thanks dude…

  • Ian

    Thanks, this was driving me mad :)

    bios.bootDelay = “boot delay in milliseconds”

  • Andy

    THANK YOU!! Was driving me nuts :)

    • rbrambley

      Glad to help!

  • steff

    finally, I found out this trick.
    Many thanks!!!

  • Anu Chandran

    Thanks.. very helpful..!!



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