Tutorial: DSM 6.2.x (DS918+ 1.04b) on VMware ESXi 7

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There are probably easier walkthroughs to follow to accomplish the same end, but I wanted to see how I could start with just the synoboot.img file and get to a working vDSM. Stated another way the only thing I wanted to download from Mega was the synoboot.img. I can appreciate that others have done some of the legwork and posted their own VMDKs, and others still have provided methods for customizing the boot image. Because this was my first time through this process, my goals were different.  This was written as notes to myself (in fact I will probably continue to iterate on the notes here), so in some places I've stated things with more confidence than I actually have, so I would greatly appreciate any feedback. 


VMware Steps


  1. Steps to create a VM with the hardware necessary to boot Jun's synoboot image
  2. Create new VM
  3. Configure similar to table below
    1. Important settings are the Guest OS name, NIC type, NIC MAC address, Hard disk 1 capacity, Hard disk 1 device node
    2. Setting Value
      Guest OS name Other 3.x Linux (64-bit)
      CPUs 2
      Memory 8 GB
      NIC 1 type E1000E
      NIC 1 MAC address

      00:11:32:12:34:56 - This must match the value present

      inside the synoboot.img's grub.cfg. The value provided

      here matches the value as of the 1.04b release

      SATA Controller 0  
      Hard disk 1 Capacity

      50 MB - This is the size of the synoboot.img which we'll

      be writing to this disk

      Hard disk 1 Virtual device node

      SATA(0:0) - This is the boot disk so we want it as the

      first disk

      SATA Controller 1

      Attach any additional disks here (Hard disk 2 is listed

      as an example)

      Hard disk 2 Capacity 40 GB
      Hard disk 2 Virtual device node SATA(1:0)
      IDE Controller 0  
      CD/DVD Drive 1 Status [X] Connect At Power On
      CD/DVD Drive 1 CD/DVD Media ISO file - [nfs] iso/Fedora-Workstation-Live-x86_64-33-1.2.iso


  4. Add any additional hard disks, attached to the second SATA controller starting at position 1:0
  5. In the VM's CD/DVD drive, mount a Linux Live ISO (I used Fedora 33 Workstation). All you really need is something that has dd and a browser.
  6. Boot VM, booting into the Linux OS.


VM - Linux Steps


  1. Steps to write the synoboot.img to your VM's VMDK
  2. Once Linux is booted, use it's browser to download synoboot.img
  3. Write synoboot.img to the 50MB disk
  4. # verify the correct disk device id by running sudo fdisk -l
    sudo dd if=synoboot.img of=/dev/sda


  5. Restart the VM
  6. Disconnect Linux Live ISO; you want to make sure you're booting from the 50MB disk now.
  7. If you're successfully booting from the 50MB disk, then grub should load and present you with 3 boot options: choose the ESXi option (this menu will disappear quickly)
  8. Once the VM is on the Happy hacking screen, from your main computer (on the same network as the VM) run Synology Assistant and search for devices (I had better luck running this on Windows vs macOS. If Windows doesn't automatically ask to allow the Synology Assistant through the firewall, then you might need to manually allow it or disable the Windows Firewall)


DSM Install


  1. If your vDSM is found, the Synology Assistant should pop up the EULA agreement (if it doesn't pop up you can select the discovered device and click Connect). Once you've agreed, your browser should open to the Set up screen to install/setup DSM.
  2. Click Set up
  3. Click Manual Install
  4. Click Browse and select the .pat file downloaded from Synology (Download a base release [without a -number at the end]. I used DSM_DS918+_23739.pat but have since upgraded to DSM 6.2.3-25426)
  5. Click Install Now
  6. Acknowledge that all data will be erased from the existing disks
  7. The DSM install will proceed
  8. After install completes a reboot counter will show. You can monitor the VM console to see once the VM has rebooted and is back on the Happy hacking screen. Then you should be able to load the DSM web console at https://<IP address>:5000 (IP address is shown in the Synology Assistant) and continue the DSM setup
  9. Complete the administrator account setup screen: assigning the hostname, and creating the administrator user
  10. Complete the DSM Update and Maintenance setup screen: Choose the option to be notified about updates, avoid automatic updates
  11. On the Set up QuickConnect screen, click the link at the bottom of the page to Skip this step
  12. On the final setup screen, leave the option to share your location with Synology unchecked
  13. DSM should load normally


DSM Setup


  1. Open Storage Manager and create a volume, the details of which are up to you. This step is required before you'll be able to install any packages.
  2. Download the latest open-vm-tools for your selected model/architecture. For the DS918+ I used the latest apollolake tools.
  3. Open Package Center, click Manual Install
  4. Click Browse and find the open-vm-tools_*.spk file you downloaded above, and complete the package install.




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