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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 06/22/2022 ** If you are looking to do USB NICs with ESXi check out the new fling (USB Network Native Driver for ESXi) that helps with this. This Fling supports the most popular USB network adapter chipsets ASIX USB 2.0 gigabit network ASIX88178a, ASIX USB 3.0 gigabit network ASIX88179, Realtek USB 3.0 gigabit network RTL8152/RTL8153 and Aquantia AQC111U. https://flings.vmware.com/usb-network-native-driver-for-esxi
NOTE – Flings are NOT supported by VMware
** 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.
- Download driver –
- LSI Driver: https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/details?downloadGroup=DT-ESXI60-QLOGIC-QLCNIC-61191&productId=491
- Note: Extract the offline bundle from this package
- Download ESXi –
- ESXi Update ZIP File: vmware.com/downloads
- Note: make sure you download the Update ZIP file and not the ESXi ISO file
I started up PowerCLI and did the following commands:
1) Add the ESXi Update ZIP file to the depot:
2) Add the LSI Offline Bundle ZIP file to the depot:
3) Make sure the files from step 1 and 2 are in the depot:
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.
SoftwarePackage: 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!
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