Creating Bootable USB Sticks to RTFI* NetApp HCI Nodes

*RTFI = Return to Factory Image

I needed to prep some USB sticks ready for an upcoming NetApp HCI install. There are various reasons why you might want to RFTI: reset a test/demo/lab environment, apply the latest versions, someone’s muddled the disks up...

Firstly, you will need a bootable USB drive maker. Go to:
And download rufus-2.6p.exe. I know 2.6 works for this purpose (I had issues with 3.3). The ‘p’ is for ‘portable’/don’t-need-to-install which I prefer, but you don’t have to go for the ‘p’ version.

Secondly, you will need to get the NetApp HCI compute and storage node images from (Product = ‘NetApp HCI’):

The ISOs are quite big. Storage node ISOs are ~4GB and Computes node ISOs ~ 15GB (mainly because it contains a few different versions of VMware vSphere).

Here I’m using NetApp HCI 1.3.1 ISOs:
- solidfire-rtfi-neon-patch3- (Storage Node)
- solidfire-NetApp-HCI-Bootstrap-OS- (Compute Node)

Image: NetApp HCI Storage and Compute Node ISOs

Step 1) Double-Click rufus-2.6p.exe to run

Image: rufus-2.6p.exe

Step 2) Storage Node

Step 2.1) Enter settings into Rufus as thus:

First check ‘Create a bootable disk using...’ and click the CD icon to the right, and point to the solidfire-rtfi-neon-patch3- (or whatever version you’re using).

Device = {Your USB Key}
Partition scheme = MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI-CSM
File system = FAT32 (Default)
Cluster size = 8192 bytes
New volume label = solidfire-rtfi
Uncheck ‘Check device for bad blocks’
Check ‘Quick format’
Already checked ‘Create a bootable disk using...’
Check ‘Create extended label and icon files’

Image: Rufus Settings for Storage Node

And click Start

Step 2.2) Select ‘Write in ISO Image mode’

Image: ISOHybrid image detected - Write in ISO Image Mode

Step 2.3) Click OK to the warning


Step 2.4) Wait for Rufus to finish!

Image: Rufus done!

This will probably take about 5 minutes.

Step 3) Compute Node

Setting up Rufus for the Compute Node RTFI USB drive is pretty much the same as for the Storage Node, except you must choose ‘Write in DD Image mode’ (IMPORTANT!)

You will need to point to the solidfire-NetApp-HCI-Bootstrap-OS- (or whatever version you’re using).
I let the ‘New volume label’ autopopulate with ember-hci...

Image: Rufus Settings for Compute Node

Image: ISOHybrid image detected - Write in DD Image Mode

It took a good 40 minutes (on my system) to create the Compute Node RTFI USB drive.

Bonus Material 1 of 2: Correct Syslinux Version

One problem you’ll have with Rufus 2.6, is that it cannot download the correct versions of Syslinux, and you’ll get “The requested item could not be located”. My trick was to use Rufus 3.3 to download the correct versions of Syslinux.

Image: Syslinux 5.10/2013-06-04 is required

Image: Rufus 2.6.818 - “The requested item could not be located.”

Bonus Material 2 of 2: Why Not Use Rufus 3.3?

Rufus 3.3 works fine for the Storage Node, but not the Compute Node. Trying to create the USB key for the Compute Node, you’ll get stuck because you can’t select anything other than NTFS for File System, and when you click START, get the error message: “Unsupported filesystem: The file system currently selected can not be used with this type of ISO. Please select a different file system or use a different ISO.”

Image: Rufus 3.3.1400 - “Unsupported Filesystem”


  1. Great work. All posts are very educational. When you have time just check Easy2Boot, it's an easy to use tool. I use it a lot for multiboot. Keepup the good work.


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