ESX fails to boot with the error: Error 15: Could not find file
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ESX fails to boot with the error: Error 15: Could not find file


Article ID: 308577


Updated On:


VMware vSphere ESXi


  • Cannot start the ESX host after applying patches using Update Manager
  • Starting the ESX host after applying patches using Update Manager fails
  • vCenter Update Manager upgrades host, but does not reboot the host
  • The ESX host stops responding and you are unable log in to the host using the vSphere Client.
  • You see the error:

    Error 15: Could not find file

  • The ESX host stops responding to the vCenter Update Manager task, but reboots normally and then experiences an error attempting to update VMware Tools on guests
  • You see an error which states that the VMware Tools files cannot be found due to lack of disk space
  • You see an error on the console screen (ALT-F12) indicating a lack of free inodes
  • vCenter Update Manager may report the below error code when this issue is encountered.

    Error Code: 19


VMware ESX Server 3.0.x
VMware ESX 4.1.x
VMware ESX Server 3.5.x
VMware ESX 4.0.x


This issue may occur if the VMware Support bundles have been created and extracted on the host without first being cleaned. This can confuse the installation process and ESX modifies GRUB to point to the wrong location on the host.
To work around this issue:
  1. Reboot the ESX host.
  2. Select Service Console Only mode (ESX 3.5) or Troubleshooting mode (ESX 4.x) on the Grub menu.
  3. Verify that /usr/lib/vmware/hostd/docroot/downloads does not contain any previous vm-support dumps.

    To locate these files, run this command:

    find /usr/lib/vmware -name vm-support -print
  4. To remove these files, run the command:

    rm -rf /usr/lib/vmware/hostd/docroot/downloads/vm-support-*
  5. Log in as root, and run these commands:

    • In ESX 3.x only – esxcfg-boot -p
    • In all versions of ESX – esxcfg-boot -b
    • In ESX 3.x onlyesxcfg-boot -r

  6. Reboot the ESX host.

Additional Information

If running the esxcfg-boot -b command fails, run vdf -h on the host to see how much free space is available in /boot. If there is very little space, such as 100 MB or less, check the /tmp and /vmimages folder for any old files or very large ISOs and remove them. Re-run esxcfg-boot -b. If you are able to run this command, reboot the host.
Note: ESX requires at least 24MB to boot properly.
You may also experience this issue after a successful upgrade, such as upgrading from ESX 3.5 to 4.0 and then performing an upgrade from 4.0 to 4.1. To resolve this issue, go to the troubleshooting mode and then run this command to clean the old ESX 3.5.x files:
cleanup-esx3 –f
Note: After you use this command, you cannot revert to ESX 3.5.x.
For more information on troubleshooting this issue, see Troubleshooting an ESX host that does not boot (10065).

For ESX 4.x, check the /boot/trouble directory for any files that may be present and remove them to free up space:

To remove files from
the /boot/trouble directory, run these commands:

#cd /boot/trouble
initrd.img vmlinuz

#rm -r *

Note: VMware High Availability agents may not correctly configure after the failure to boot and in the Summary tab, you can see that the HA configuration failed. In this case, in vCenter Server, right-click the host and click Reconfigure HA.
ESX/ESXi host fails to boot after installation or upgrade