I wanted to run a bare metal hypervisor on my home server, and for now it will be VMware ESXi, which is available in a free edition (you need to register, but thats it!). It turns out, that VMware ESXi 5.5. cannot be installed on my Gigabyte Brix GB-BXi5-4570R without a custom image, since there are no drivers included for the onboard Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit NIC.
As this is the only NIC present, the installer aborts. There is a VMware package called net-r8168, which enables ESXi to use the 8111G NIC as well.
PowerCLI provides a way to create a custom installer media, which can be setup to include the NIC driver.
Start PowerCLI (download PowerCLI here)
Add the repository to your session
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot -DepotUrl https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
Now you can use some Get-cmdlets to see which packages and profiles are available. The Get-EsxSoftwarePackage with proper filtering is useful to see whats available – for drivers the description attribute is quite interesting.
Get-EsxSoftwarePackage | Format-Table Name, Description –AutoSize
To make an ISO for the Gigabyte Brix I have used the following cmdlets – edit paths as needed.
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot -DepotUrl https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard" -name "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-GigabyteBrix" Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-GigabyteBrix" -SoftwarePackage "net-r8168" Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-GigabyteBrix" -ExportToISO -filepath C:\temp\ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-GigabyteBrix.iso
Note: The Export-ESXImageProfile can take some time to complete, since PowerCLI is downloading the content from the online repository.
I burned the ISO to a disk, and the installer was happy 🙂
For full documentation on using PowerCLI Image Builder, refer to the online documentation here – https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/index.jsp#com.vmware.vsphere.install.doc_50/GUID-78CC6C2E-E961-4A5E-B07D-0CE7083DE51E.html