When you run a virtual machine (VM) on VMware Player, the default boot sequence of the VM is "removable devices -> hard drive -> CD-ROM drive". If you want to boot a VM from an ISO image instead, you need to change the boot sequence of the VM, so that it starts with CD-ROM drive.
In this article, I will describe how to change the boot sequence of a guest VM on VMware Player.
As a demonstration, I will set up a guest VM to boot from an ISO image, which requires booting from CD/DVD.
The first step is to edit the CD/DVD setting of a VM. Open up the virtual machine settings of a VM, and edit the CD/DVD setting to connect to the ISO image that you want to boot from.
There are several ways to change the boot sequence of a guest VM on VMware Player.
Simply, power on the guest VM. Right after the VM is powered on, and before power-on self test (POST) starts, click into the VM's console screen, and then press <F2> button. That will lead you to the guest VM's BIOS settings as shown below.
Go to "Boot" tab, and press <down> key to highlight "CD-ROM" drive. Press <SHIFT> and <+> keys to move "CD-ROM" drive up on top.
Save the change, and exit the BIOS settings.
Upon exit, the guest VM will boot from the ISO image loaded on CD-ROM drive.
If you cannot press <F2> button quickly enough to enter BIOS settings, add the following entry to the *.vmx file of the guest VM.
bios.bootDelay = "<number_of_milliseconds>"
This will delay POST procedure. Note that the unit of numbers is milliseconds. So if you want to delay POST screen by 5 seconds, it should be: bios.bootDelay = "5000". The maximum allowable boot delay is 10000 milliseconds or 10 seconds. With additional boot delay, you will have more time before booting, during which you can press <F2> key to enter the BIOS setup menu.
Alternatively, you can add the following entry in the *.vmx file of the guest VM. This will "force" the guest VM to automatically enter the BIOS settings upon power-on.
bios.forceSetupOnce = "TRUE"
Note that bios.forceSetupOnce will automatically be reset to "FALSE" in .vmx file after successful booting. So the next time you power on the VM, it will not re-enter the BIOS setting. If you want to re-enter the BIOS setting, you will have to edit .vmx file, and set bios.forceSetupOnce to TRUE manually again.
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