Yesterday I decided to upgrade my two ESXi servers from ESXi 5.1 to ESXi 5.5 since the update came out some time ago.
The upgrade from ESXi 5.0 to ESXi 5.1 went great, without any problems. But this time, that is not the case.
My two ESXi servers are white boxes made of the following hardware:
- Motherboard: MSI Z87-G43 (http://www.msi.com/product/mb/Z87-G43.html)
- CPU: i5-4670K (http://ark.intel.com/products/75048/)
- RAM: Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600MHz, 8Gb * 2(16GB total) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820104173)
The problem was the motherboard that ships with an onboard Realtek 8111E network adapter.
This problem has been verified to be the same with Realtek 8168 and Realtek 8169.
The reason for this, is that VMware removed the drivers from the new ESXi 5.5 iso.
In this post I will show you how to get ESXi 5.5 working with the Realtek network adapters.
Some people don’t like to use “not supported” hardware this way, and others had connection problems on the VM’s after doing this. I did not have any problems, and have been running with this solution since I wrote this post (21 days ago now). So i think it is pretty stable.
If you don’t want to use the method below, you can always buy a Intel Pro 1000 network card and put it in a PCI-e slot.
I highly recommend the Intel pro 1000 series, they are fast, reliable and works on any OS out of the box (including ESXi), but they are a little pricy. You can get them here, with free shipping:
Intel Pro 1000 Dual port
Intel Pro 1000 single port
There are two ways to make the upgrade work on your motherboard:
- Using a supported network adapter in a PCI-E slot (See above, regarding the Intel Pro 1000 network adapters)
- Creating a custom ESXi 5.5 iso with the drivers from ESXi 5.1
Putting in a extra network adapter was not an option for me, so I went for option two, and here is how I did it:
Creating a custom ESXi 5.5 iso including the Realtek network drivers
What you need
You just need a Windows XP or higher computer, and the software below.
Getting the needed software
First you need to get the needed software.
The following is what you need to download:
- The original VMware ESXi 5.5 iso (https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/evalcenter?p=free-esxi5&lp=default)
- ESXi-Customizer (http://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer.html#download)
- The drivers from the old ESXi 5.1 iso (save file and unzip), you only need one of the below depending on what model your network adapter is.
Injecting the drivers and create a new iso file
There is not a lot of steps to this, actually just a couple and it will not take long.
Open the “Esxi-customizer”
Fill out fields
Simply fill out all 3 fields.
First one: Choose the original VMware ESXi 5.5 iso you downloaded from VMware
Second one: Choose the .VIB file for you Realtek network adapter that you downloaded earlier.
Third one: Choose what folder to use for working folder. A log and the finished new .iso file will be saved here. just create a new folder on your C:\ drive and use it.
If your motherboard support UEFI boot, you can tick the “Create UEFI bootable ISO” if not, then untick this. If you are unsure about this, then untick it!
Tick the auto update check to make sure you always have the latest version of this software.
Let’s do it! Press “Run!”
The program will run some commands in the command promt behind it, and that’s it.
It does not take long. Once done, you can close the program.
Upgrade your VMware ESXi server
Now, burn your newly created ISO image of VMware ESXi 5.5 with your Realtek network adapter drivers injected that was created in the folder you choose to be the working folder for the program.
You can also “Burn” it to a usb stick, if your server does not have a optical drive installed. I do not have a guide for this yet.
Boot up your server on the cd/usb and choose to upgrade the system like you would with the original iso.
Note that the custom .iso does not work trough VMware Update Manager.
Feel free to leave a comment below, and rate the post at the top if this helped you!