This the multi-page printable view of this section. Click here to print.

Return to the regular view of this page.

Running Photon OS on vSphere

You can use Photon OS as a virtual machine within VMware vSphere. You can download Photon OS, as an OVA or ISO file, and install the Photon OS distribution on vSphere. After you install Photon OS, you can deploy a containerized application in Docker with a single command.

Note: If you want to upgrade an existing Photon 1.0 VM, see the Upgrade to Photon OS 5.0 section.

1 - Prerequisites for Running Photon OS on vSphere

Resource requirements and recommendations vary depending on several factors, including the host environment (for example, VMware vSphere and VMware Fusion), the distribution file used (ISO or OVA), and the selected installation settings (for example, full or basic installation).

Before you use Photon OS within VMware vSphere, perform the following prerequisite tasks:

  1. Verify that you have the following resources:

    VMware vSphere installedVMware web client (v6.5) for ESXi hosts (recommended)

    Note: vSphere 6 and vSphere 5.5 (these clients provide limited support; Not all features are available).

    MemoryESXi host with 2GB of free RAM (recommended)
    StorageMinimal Photon install: ESXi host with at least 512MB of free space (minimum); Full Photon install: ESXi host with at least 4GB of free space (minimum); 16GB is recommended; 16GB recommended.
    Distribution FilePhoton OS ISO or OVA file downloaded from [](

    Note: The setup instructions in this guide use VMware vSphere 6 and the vSphere web client.

  2. Decide whether to use the OVA or ISO distribution to set up Photon OS.

    • OVA import : Because of the nature of an OVA, you’re getting a pre-installed version of Photon OS. You can choose the hardware version you want (OVA with hardware version 13 or 11). The OVA benefits from a simple import process and some kernel tuning for VMware environments. However, because it’s a pre-installed version, the set of packages that are installed are predetermined. Any additional packages that you need can be installed using tdnf.
    • ISO install : The ISO, on the other hand, allows for a more complete installation or automated installation via kickstart.

    To get Photon OS up and running quickly, use the OVA.

  3. Download Photon OS. Go to the following URL and download the latest release of Photon OS:

    For instructions, see

    Note: For ISO installation, you must upload to a datashare that is attached to the ESXi host, or mount the file share where the ISO resides as a data store.

2 - Importing the OVA for Photon OS

Using the OVA is a fast and easy way to create a Photon OS VM on VMware vSphere.

After you have downloaded the OVA, log in to your vSphere environment and perform the following steps:

  1. Start the Import Process

    From the Actions pull-down menu, choose Create/Register VM.

    In the Select creation type window, choose Deploy a virtual machine from an OVF or OVA file.

    Create new virtual machine

    Choose Next.

  2. Select the OVA File

    Enter a name for the virtual machine, and select the OVA file.

    OVA file

    Choose Next.

  3. Specify the Target Datastore

    From the Select storage screen, select the target datastore for your VM.

    Target datastore

    Choose Next.

  4. Accept the License Agreement

    Read through the Photon OS License Agreement, and then choose I Agree.


    Choose Next.

  5. Select Deployment Options

    Photon OS is provisioned with a maximum disk size. By default, Photon OS uses only the portion of disk space that it needs, usually much less that the entire disk size ( Thin client). If you want to pre-allocate the entire disk size (reserving it entirely for Photon OS instead), select Thick instead.

    Deployment Options

    Choose Next.

  6. Verify Deployment Settings

    Deployment settings

    Click Finish. vSphere uploads and validates your OVA. Depending on bandwidth, this operation might take a while.

    When finished, vShield powers up a new VM based on your selections.

  7. Change Login Settings

    Login prompt

    After the VM is booted, open the command window. vSphere prompts you to log in.

    Note: Because of limitations within OVA support on vSphere, it was necessary to specify a default password for the OVA option. However, all Photon OS instances that are created by importing the OVA require an immediate password change upon login. The default account credentials are:

     - Username: ``root``
     - Password: ``changeme``

    After you provide these credentials, vSphere prompts you to create a new password and type it a second time to verify it.

    Note: For security, Photon OS forbids common dictionary words for the root password.  

    Once logged in, you will see the shell prompt.

    Shell prompt

    Once complete, proceed to Deploying a Containerized Application in Photon OS.

  8. Export the VM as a Template (Optional)

    Consider converting this imported VM into a template (from the Actions menu, choose Export ) so that you have a master Photon OS instance that can be combined with vSphere Guest Customization to enable rapid provisioning of Photon OS instances.

3 - Installing the ISO Image for Photon OS

After you download the Photon OS ISO image into a folder of your choice, complete the following steps.

  1. Upload the ISO Image

    Upload the ISO image to a datastore that is attached to the host on which you’ll create the Photon OS virtual machine.

  2. Create a new VM

    Log in to your vSphere environment. In the Virtual Machines window, choose Create/Register VM.

    On the Select creation type screen, select Create a new virtual machine.

    Create new virtual machine

    Choose Next.

  3. Configure VM Settings

    Specify a VM name.

    VM name

    Specify a guest operating system.

    • For Compatibility, select ESXi 6.7.
    • For Guest OS family, select Linux.
    • For Guest OS version, select VMware Photon OS (64-bit).

    Guest operating system

    Choose Next.

  4. Select the Target Datastore

    Select the datastore where you want to store the VM.

    Target datastore

    Click Next.

  5. Customize VM Settings

    Customize the virtual machine settings.


    For CD/DVD Drive 1, click the drop-down and select Datastore ISO file.

    In the Datastore browser, select the ISO that you want to import.

    Change other settings as applicable.

    • The recommended virtual hardware settings for your Photon VM are heavily dependent upon the container load you intend to run within Photon OS – more containers or more intensive containers will require you to adjust these settings for your application load. VMware suggests 2 vCPU, 1024MB memory, 20GB hard disk. Any unwanted devices should be removed. Be sure to mount the Photon OS ISO on the CD/DVD Drive and put a check in the box next to, Connect At Power On.
    • If you want to configure a secure boot for the Photon OS VM you created, choose the VM Options tab, expand Boot Options, and select EFI from the firmware drop-down. An EFI boot ensures that the ISO content is signed by VMware and that the entire stack is secure.

    Choose Next.

  6. Verify VM Settings

    The installer displays a summary of your selected settings.


    Click Finish. vSphere creates the VM.

  7. Power on the VM

    Select the VM and power it on.

    Power on VM

    When you see the Photon Installer boot menu, press Enter on your keyboard to start installing.

  8. Accept the License Agreement

    Read the License Agreement and press the Enter key to accept.

    License Agreement

  9. Configure the Partition

    The installer detects one disk, which should be the 16GB volume configured as part of the virtual machine creation. Choose Auto to have the installer automatically allocate the partition, or choose Custom if you want to configure individual partitions, and then press the Enter key.


    Note: If you choose Custom, the installer displays the following screen.

    Custom Partition

    For each custom partition, choose Create New and specify the following information:

    New Partition

    Size - Preallocated size of this partition, in MB.

    Type - One of the following options:

    • ext3 - ext3 file system
    • ext4 - ext4 file system
    • swap - swap partition

    Mountpoint - Mount point for this partition.

    Choose OK and press the Enter key. When you are done defining custom partitions, choose Next and press the Enter key.

    The installer prompts you to confirm that you want to erase the entire disk.

    Erase disk

    Choose Yes and press the Enter key.

  10. Select an Installation Option

    After partitioning the disk, the installer prompts you to select an installation option.

    Installation Option

    Each install option provides a different run-time environment, depending on your requirements.

    Photon MinimalPhoton Minimum is a very lightweight version of the container host runtime that is best suited for for devices that have limited compute and memory capabilities. There is sufficient packaging and functionality to allow most common operations around modifying existing containers, as well as being a highly performant and full-featured runtime.

    Photon DeveloperPhoton Developer includes several additional packages to enhance the authoring and packaging of containerized applications and/or system customization. Use Photon Developer for developing and packaging the application that will be run as a container, as well as authoring the container, itself. For testing and validation purposes, Photon Developer includes all components necessary to run containers.
    Photon OSTree HostThis installation profile creates a Photon OS instance that will source its packages from a central rpm-ostree server and continue to have the library and state of packages managed by the definition that is maintained on the central rpm-ostree server.
    Photon Real TimeThis profile is available only for the x86_64 architecture.

    Note: The option you choose determines the disk and memory resources required for your installation.

    Select the option you want and press the Enter key.

  11. The Network Configuration screen appears, select one of the four options to configure your network.

    Network Configuration

    1. Choose Configure network automatically and select Next to configure the network automatically.

    2. To configure network automatically with the DHCP hostname, select Configure network automatically with a DHCP hostname and select Next. Enter the DHCP Hostname and select Next. ../images/DHCP_hostname_for_your_system.png

    3. To configure the network manually, select Configure Network manually. In the window that appears, enter the IP Address, Netmask, Gateway and Nameserver and select OK. ../images/Configure_Network_Manually.png

    4. If your network interface is directly connected to the VLAN trunk port, choose YES on the Configure the network screen. Enter the VLAN ID and select Next. Configure the network.

  12. Select the Linux Kernel

    Select a Linux kernel to install.

    Linux Kernel

    • Hypervisor optimized means that any components that are not needed for running under a VMware hypervisor have been removed for faster boot times.
    • Generic means that all components are included.

    Choose Next and press the Enter key.

  13. Specify the Hostname

    The installer prompts you for a hostname and suggest a randomly generated, unique hostname that you can change if you want.


    Press the Enter key.

  14. Specify the System root Password

    The installer prompts you to enter the system root password.

    Note: Photon OS will not permit commonly used dictionary words to be set as a root password.

    Root password

    Type a password and press the Enter key.

    The installer prompts you to confirm your root password by typing it a second time.

    Password confirmation

    Note: If you have trouble with unintentional repeated characters in the Remote Console, follow VMware KB 196 ( for a setting to apply to the virtual machine.

    Press the Enter key. The installer proceeds to install the software. Installation times will vary based on the system hardware and installation options you selected. Most installations complete in less than one minute.

  15. Reboot the VM and Log In

    Once finished, the installer displays a confirmation message (which includes how long it took to install Photon OS) and prompts you to press a key on your keyboard to boot the new VM.

    Boot VM

    As the initial boot process begins, the installer displays the Photon splash screen, and then a login prompt.

    Login prompt

    At the login prompt, type root as the username and provide the password chosen during the installation.


You can now use your container runtime environment and deploy a containerized application.