I guess the comment did come across a little crass. I apologize for that.
I have gone through many courses and worked with the VMware product for quite some time now and learned that their kernel is not a Linux Kernel. It has been wrongly assessed as a Linux kernel since early in the version 2 of the product. It is a VMware developed kernel and is scaled to be small enough to fit on a chip.
No, ESXi does not load a linux kernel before the vmkernel and if you are able to look at the partitioning of an ESXi installation you can see the busybox installation runs as a VM. In earlier versions, it was hidden and kept there only as a tech support mode. With the ending of the ESX with full console line VMware allows it for those admins like me that prefer running in the console.
You are correct you don't get an option to install it but it is there for management.
I am not sure when that part may disappear in exchange for the vMA type of interface, but I can imagine it will.
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