Create ISO with ESXi 6.0U2 and Realtek 8168 Drivers

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ESXi no longer supports Realtek Network drivers. To be able to install ESXi with the Realtek drivers users will have to create a custom ISO. Keep in mind these are unsupported drivers by VMware, so use at your own risk. Normally I would use my trusty ESXi-Customizer GUI program but it is no longer supported for ESXi 6.  In replacement they offer a CLI supported program. However, at this point I’d rather rely on the VMware tools vs. 3rd party tools as you never know when 3rd party tools will go away. VMware enables users to create custom ISOs via PowerCLI and in this blog I’ll explain how I used PowerCLI create my ISO. Keep in mind these are the steps that worked for me, your environment may vary.

— Required Tools and Files —

To get started you will need two files and PowerCLI Installed on a Windows PC.  You can skip these steps if you have the ESXi Offline Bundle, PowerCLI installed, and the RealTek Drivers.

  1. File 1: Download VMware 6.0U2 Offline Bundle ZIP >> www.vmware.com/download

2. File 2: Download RealTek 8186 Offline bundle >> https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net55-r8168

3. If you haven’t yet download and install PowerCLI >> https://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/automationtools/powercli

Tip: If you don’t know PowerCLI try starting here

4. Next Place the files from Step 1 and 2 into c:\tmp folder

–POWERCLI COMMANDS—

Now that you have your files and PowerCLI ready follow these steps.  For step below I included a screenshot and the actual command allowing you to copy, paste, and edit into your environment.

  1. Open PowerCLI (Tip: If you don’t know PowerCLI try starting here)
  2. Add ESXi 6.0u2 and RealTek8186 products to the local Software Depot (Tip: All commands below assume your files are located in the c:\tmp folder)

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\tmp\update-from-esxi6.0-6.0_update02.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\tmp\net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi-offline_bundle.zip

2. Confirm the products are in the depot

Get-EsxSoftwareDepot

3. List out the ESXi Image Profiles

Get-EsxImageProfile

4. Create a Clone Image to be modified – Ensure you are targeting the “ESXi…..standard” profile from step 3

New-EsxImageProfile -cloneprofile ESXi-6.0.0-20160302001-standard -Name “RealTek8186a”

Forward-Looking Tip: Whatever name you choose it will show up in your boot ISO

5. Set the Acceptance Level to Community Supported – Remember RealTek is unsupported by VMware

Set-EsxImageProfile -Name RealTek8186a -AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported

For ImageProfile Enter – RealTek8186a

6. Ensure the RealTek net55-r8186 driver is loaded from the local depot (Screenshot shortened)

Get-EsxSoftwarePackage

7. Add the RealTek software package to the profile

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage

ImageProfile: RealTek8186a

SoftwarePackage[0]: net55-r8168 8.039.01-napi

Tip: For the SoftwarePackage you MUST enter the full name, if you just use the short name it will not work

8. Validate the RealTek drivers are now part of the RealTek8186a Profile (Screenshot shortened)

(Get-EsxImageProfile “RealTek8186a”).viblist

9. Export the profile to an ISO

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile “RealTek8186a” -ExportToIso -FilePath c:\tmp\RealTek8186a.iso

And that’s it… You should find your new ISO in the c:\tmp folder.  From here you can burn your ISO to a media of your choice or boot the ISO via ilo, iDRAC, virtual media etc.

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content.

6 thoughts on “Create ISO with ESXi 6.0U2 and Realtek 8168 Drivers

    Richard Powers said:
    January 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I know this is older blog post but I like the quick to the point blog posts.

    Thx

    RichPo

    Like

      Matt Mancini responded:
      January 21, 2018 at 9:09 pm

      You are very welcome Mr. Powers, and you hit on the point of my no-nonsense blog – my posts get right to the point and leave out the fluff! Feel free to reach out any time.

      Like

    Navel said:
    April 9, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Thankz Mat , this is just what i needed. Been looking for almost 2 hours before I found your tutorial.
    Indeed the “no-nonse, straight to the point” approach is in my opinion the best. Lots should take learning from this.
    I sure will come back to check the rest of your blog. First gonna install ESX.

    Cheers,
    Navelpluiz.

    Like

      Matt Mancini responded:
      April 9, 2018 at 9:31 am

      You are very welcome and thank you for taking the time to post up.

      Like

    Ben said:
    May 13, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Hi, Where would I find an ISO file with the realtek drivers already injected. that would be most useful…

    Like

      Matt Mancini responded:
      May 17, 2018 at 8:43 am

      I believe, and don’t quote me on this, the last time RealTek was part of the VMware ISO was vSphere 5.1. After that the RealTek Drivers were no longer supported with ESXi and everyone with a non-production Home labs have been injecting them ever since. I don’t recall why they were removed from the vSphere line and I have not heard of their return. Best bet for compatibility is to buy Intel or Broadcom NICs.

      Like

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