ESXi no longer supports Realtek Network drivers nor are they included on the installation ISO. However, if you want to install ESXi with the Realtek drivers, then users will have to create a custom ISO. Keep in mind these drivers are NOT supported by VMware and should be used 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, instead of learning another 3rd party tool I’d rather rely on the VMware tools provided to me. 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 and 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.
STEP1: File 1: Download VMware 6.0U2 Offline Bundle ZIP >> www.vmware.com/download
STEP 2: File 2: Download RealTek 8186 Offline bundle >> https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net55-r8168
STEP 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
STEP 4: Next Place the files from Step 1 and 2 into c:\tmp folder
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.
STEP 1: Open PowerCLI (Tip: If you don’t know PowerCLI try starting here)
STEP 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)
STEP 3: Confirm the products are in the depot
STEP 4: List out the ESXi Image Profiles
STEP 5: 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
STEP 6: Set the Acceptance Level to Community Supported – Remember RealTek is unsupported by VMware
Set-EsxImageProfile -Name RealTek8186a -AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported
For ImageProfile Enter – RealTek8186a
STEP 7: Ensure the RealTek net55-r8186 driver is loaded from the local depot (Screenshot shortened)
STEP 8: Add the RealTek software package to the profile
SoftwarePackage: 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
STEP 9: Validate the RealTek drivers are now part of the RealTek8186a Profile (Screenshot shortened)
STEP 10: 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.