Create a ESXi 5.1 ISO file with additional network drivers

As vSphere 5.1 is just released, you can run into the problem that the default ISO from VMware doesn’t contain the right drivers for you hardware. During installation you don’t have the option to import a driver. And if no network card is detected, installation won’t continue. In order to fix this problem you have to create your own ISO file. This can be done with PowerCLI.

    1. Download the (where xxxxxx is the build number) from the VMware website and your driver file (something like Vendor_drivername-version-offline_bundle-xxxxxxxx where xxxxxx is the buildnumber. In my case the file name is: BCM-NetXtremeII-1.0-offline_bundle-553511). Place these files in a directory on your harddrive. I placed the ESXi5.1 depot  in c:vmwareesxi51 and the driver file in c:vmwarebcm-driver.
    2. Start PowerCLI and cd to c:vmware.
    3. Use the Add-ESXSoftwareDepotcommandlet to add both the ESXi offline bundle and async offline bundle as depots. For example:

      Add-ESXSoftwareDepot ./

      Output will be something like:

      Depot Url
    4. Add the vSphere 5.1 software depot file with the command:

      Add-ESXSoftwareDepot ./esxi51/
      Output will be something like:

      Depot Url
    5. Verify the available software packages with the command: Get-EsxSoftwarePackage
    6. Next step is to clone a existing image profile.With the command Get-EsxImageProfile you’ll get a list of the available profiles.
      Output will be something like:

      Name                       Vendor Last Modified Acceptance
      ————————– —— ————- —————
      ESXi-5.1.0-799733-standard VMware mm/dd/yyyy    PartnerSupported
      ESXi-5.1.0-799733-no-tools VMware mm/dd/yyyy    PartnerSupported

      Where going to clone the ESXi-5.0.0-456551-no-tools profile to a new profile called ESXi-WilmsenIT. This can be done with the command New-EsxImageProfile. For example:

      New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile “ESXi-5.1.0-799733-no-tools” -name “ESXi-WilmsenIT” -Vendor “WilmsenIT”
      Output will be something like:

      Name             Vendor      Last Modified   Acceptance Level
      —-             ——      ————-   —————-
      ESXi-WilmsenIT   WilmsenIT   2-8-2012 3:0… PartnerSupported


    1. Now whe’re going to add the driver from step 4.Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile “ESXi-WilmsenIT -SoftwarePackage “net-bnx2x”The output appears similar to:Name            Vendor    Last Modified Acceptance Level
      ————— ——    ————- —————-
      ESXi-WilmsenIT  WilmsenIT today         PartnerSupported


  1. Last step is to export the imageprofile to a ISO file which you can burn. Use the command Export-EsxImageProfile for this:Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile “ESXi-WilmsenIT” -ExportToISO -filepath C:ESXi-WilmsenIT.iso

About Michael
Michael Wilmsen is a experienced VMware Architect with more than 20 years in the IT industry. Main focus is VMware vSphere, Horizon View and Hyper Converged with a deep interest into performance and architecture. Michael is VCDX 210 certified, has been rewarded with the vExpert title from 2011, Nutanix Tech Champion and a Nutanix Platform Professional.

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