So, you’ve heard about the newest bling on the market. All the cool kids have it. Basically the Reebok Pumps of the virtualization world. You want to upgrade to ESXi 5.5. You installed a fresh copy and the network card that used to work in 5.1 doesn’t seem to work. If you upgraded, it seems to work? Say what?! You’re not alone and your eyes are not deceiving you. If you built a home lab similar to mine, you’re in the same situation. VMware removed some very useful drivers from the 5.5 build. Drivers that us home lab people live and die by, but it’s very easy to get them back.
If you have an ESXi host running 5.1 and you want to be sure that the network is supported after install, do an upgrade and not a fresh install. Unless you want to just create an iso with everything in it. (More on that in a bit…)
Update existing 5.1 install.
With your host connected to the internet, you’ll want to fire up your favorite ssh client and ssh to your host and run these vCLI commands.
What you’re doing is opening the firewall and downloading and applying the new 5.5 image profile. This will ensure that the driver you were using will still work. I’ve been told that booting off the 5.5 disc and selecting upgrade also works. I used to do
my old whiteboxes that way and it worked. I can’t confirm it though, I use the other method below. For now, some simple vCLI action will take care of it without the need to burn a CD.
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard
Doing a fresh install with custom 5.5 iso.
So you’re probably still reading this post because you either a.) didn’t find the post before you decided to do a fresh install or b.) want to just build an iso you can use in the future just in case.
So pat yourself on the back. You get some extra steps and hey, maybe you’ll learn something new. We’re going to bust out some PowerCLI ninja action. What we need to do now is create a custom ESXi 5.5 image that you can do a fresh install with that will include the drivers that used to be built in and work in the last version. /sigh. The life of an IT guy.
What we’re going to use here is a tool called ImageBuilder. It’s a fully supported tool by VMware (check out the documentation links here). It was created for things like this to keep the vanilla ESXi lightweight and give YOU the flexibility to add in any drivers you might need.
- Download PowerCLI from the VMware site here.
- Open PowerCLI (run as Administrator) and run the following commands below. It’s important to run as Administrator because you’ll likely get permission errors trying to write the iso on the last step otherwise.
- Take note while running each line. Some are for certain drivers you may or may not need.
#If you've never used PowerCLI before, set the ExecutionPolicy to RemoteSigned. Skip this step if you have already. Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned #Makes sure the ImageBuilder snapin is added. Add-PSSnapin VMware.ImageBuilder #Connects to the software depot. Takes a few seconds to connect. Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml #Takes the standard ESXi 5.5 iso and clones it so we can essentially slipstream in the missing drivers. New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard" -name "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox" -vendor "withNICs" #Use these two for broken Realtek adapters. Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox" -SoftwarePackage "net-r8168" Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox" -SoftwarePackage "net-r8169" #Use these two for broken Marvell adapters. Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox" -SoftwarePackage "net-sky2" Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox" -SoftwarePackage "net-s2io" #Take our newly modified profile and spit out an iso to use. This will take a few minutes. Be patient. Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox" -ExportToISO -filepath C:\ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox.iso
Once that’s all done, you should have a custom iso file located at: C:\ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-Whitebox.iso. Burn it and boot! Boom, you’ve got your NICs and ESXi 5.5! Not to mention, you probably can run faster now that you’ve got your Reebok Pumps.