Create an ESXi installation ISO with custom drivers in 9 easy steps!

Video Posted on Updated on

One of the challenges in running a VMware based home lab is the ability to work with old / inexpensive hardware but run latest software. Its a balance that is sometimes frustrating, but when it works it is very rewarding. Most recently I decided to move to 10Gbe from my InfiniBand 40Gb network. Part of this transition was to create an ESXi ISO with the latest build (6.7U3) and appropriate network card drivers. In this video blog post I’ll show 9 easy steps to create your own customized ESXi ISO and how to pin point IO Cards on the vmware HCL.

** Update 03/06/2020 ** Though I had good luck with the HP 593742-001 NC523SFP DUAL PORT SFP+ 10Gb card in my Gen 4 Home Lab, I found it faulty when running in my Gen 5 Home Lab.  Could be I was using a PCIe x4 slot in Gen 4, or it could be the card runs to hot to touch.  For now this card was removed from VMware HCL, HP has advisories out about it, and after doing some poking around there seem to be lots of issues with it.  I’m looking for a replacement and may go with the HP NC550SFP.   However, this doesn’t mean the steps in this video are only for this card, the steps in this video help you to better understand how to add drivers into an ISO.

Here are the written steps I took from my video blog.  If you are looking for more detail, watch the video.

Before you start – make sure you have PowerCLI installed, have download these files,  and have placed these files in c:\tmp.

I started up PowerCLI and did the following commands:

1) Add the ESXi Update ZIP file to the depot:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\tmp\update-from-esxi6.7-6.7_update03.zip

2) Add the LSI Offline Bundle ZIP file to the depot:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot ‘C:\tmp\qlcnic-esx55-6.1.191-offline_bundle-2845912.zip’

3) Make sure the files from step 1 and 2 are in the depot:

Get-EsxSoftwareDepot

4) Show the Profile names from update-from-esxi6.7-6.7_update03. The default command only shows part of the name. To correct this and see the full name use the ‘| select name’ 

Get-EsxImageProfile | select name

5) Create a clone profile to start working with.

New-EsxImageProfile -cloneprofile ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard -Name ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic -Vendor QLogic

6) Validate the LSI driver is loaded in the local depot.  It should match the driver from step 2.  Make sure you note the name and version number columns.  We’ll need to combine these two with a space in the next step.

Get-EsxSoftwarePackage -Vendor q*

7) Add the software package to the cloned profile. Tip: For ‘SoftwarePackage:’ you should enter the ‘name’ space ‘version number’ from step 6.  If you just use the short name it might not work.

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage

ImageProfile: ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic
SoftwarePackage[0]: net-qlcnic 6.1.191-1OEM.600.0.0.2494585

8) Optional: Compare the profiles, to see differences, and ensure the driver file is in the profile.

Get-EsxImageProfile | select name   << Run this if you need a reminder on the profile names

Compare-EsxImageProfile -ComparisonProfile ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic -ReferenceProfile ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard

9) Create the ISO

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile “ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic” -ExportToIso -FilePath c:\tmp\ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic.iso

That’s it!  If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos and blogs that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting boring video blogs!

Cross vSAN Cluster support for FT

 

3 thoughts on “Create an ESXi installation ISO with custom drivers in 9 easy steps!

    […] 09/2019 Update – I have created a updated blog and video showing how to create custom ISOs for ESXi.  Though it doesn’t include the Realtek drivers, one could use it for the same purpose.  Check it out here – Create-an-esxi-installation-iso-with-custom-drivers-in-9-easy-steps […]

    Like

    ‪WAEL MOHAMED said:
    October 6, 2020 at 4:28 am

    hello dear can you help me to add D-ling Network Driver PCI Express DGE-560t To ISO VMware Esxi 6.7 in i need To Install Firewall In Server Hans- I can’t add network card driver in vmware Esxi 6.7 after installation ? i see more tools and I tried to add Network driver D-link DGE560t the version with ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.6.0 To Vmware Esxi6.7 ISO
    But I failed, as I am not an expert in using this tool, but I am familiar with the driver of the network card?

    Like

      Matt Mancini responded:
      October 7, 2020 at 4:32 pm

      I’m pretty sure the NIC card you are asking about is based on a RealTek chipset. This is not supported by ESXi for quite sometime. If you want to try to get this to work, you’ll need to find what the RealTek model number is and then find those drivers. This is the only source I know that has Realtek drivers that “might” work. https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/List_of_currently_available_ESXi_packages#NIC_drivers

      Honestly, you’d probably be better off buying a single Intel NIC. Maybe one with i210 chipset.

      Like

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