In this article, we will consider how to add (inject) drivers to the VMware ESXi installation ISO image (6.7 or 7.0). The ESXi installation image supports (certified) the most popular server models. If you try to install an ESXi image on a desktop computer, most likely you will encounter a situation where some device drivers (RAID controller, video card or network adapter, etc.) are missing from your distribution.
Most often, when trying to install ESXi from the original installation image on a desktop computer, you’ll see an error:
No Network Adapters. No network adapters were detected. Either no network adapters are physically connected to the system, or a suitable driver could not be located. A third party driver may be required. Ensure that the is at least one network adapter physically connected to the system before attempting installation. If the problem persists, consult the VMware Knowledge Base.
The standard ESXi ISO image does not support most desktop NIC adapters. To install ESXi on such a computer, you will need to inject the drivers for your network adapter into your ESXi installation image
Let’s see how to add driver to VMware ESXi 6.x and 7.0 installation ISO. In this example, we will show how to integrate the driver for the Realtek network adapter into an ESXi image.
VMware recommends using the official vSphere ESXi Image Builder To optimize ESXi images. But it requires vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA). Instead, most system administrators use third-party esxi-adapter tool.[contents h2]
How to Download Drivers for VMWare ESXi?
First, you need to find and download the ESXi drivers for your hardware. They can be found at:
Please note that you need a driver in one of the following formats: .vibe,tgz either .zip (offline bundle).
You can also find drivers by device VID. Boot your computer using Linux LiveCD and run this command to see the VID and PID of your device:
# lspci -nn
Using these IDs, you can search for .vib drivers on the web.
esXi-customizer-PS . Adding Drivers to ESXi ISO Images with
ESXi-customizer-PS powershell script (https://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer-ps.html) can be used to integrate drivers and updates into ESXi 5.x, 6.x, and 7.0 installation images. To use this script, you must have VMware PowerCLI installed on your computer.
Download the current version (2.8.2) of esxi-customizer-ps.ps1 file from GitHub (https://github.com/VFrontDe/ESXi-Customizer-PS/releases), Unblock PS1 file downloaded from internet (by checking unblock in its properties), and open the PowerShell console:
Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope Process
You can display help on script parameters as follows:
An unexpected error occured:The VMware.ImageBuilder module is not currently supported on the Core edition of PowerShell.
This means that you are trying to run a PS1 script from a newer version of PowerShell Core (pwsh.exe), which is not supported by ESXi-Customizer-PS. Instead use the Windows PowerShell console (powershell.exe).
List available ESXi images:
To download the latest ESXi 6.7 ISO image with updates from the VMware Online Depot website, run this command:
In the same way you can download other ESXi image versions ( -v70 | -v67 | -v65 | -v60 | -v55 | -v51 | -v50).
The script allows you to use one of three modes:
- Create an ISO or offline bundled installation image directly from VMware Online Depot (default);
- Create an ISO installation image from a local offline bundle file (– to send,
- Update Local ESXi Offline Bundle from VMware Online Depot (-izip -update,
To generate an ESXi ISO and quickly inject all offline bundles and VIB driver packages from C:\distr\esxi\driver , use this command:
.\ESXi-Customizer-PS.ps1 -v67 -pkgDir C:\distr\esxi\driver
The installation ESXi ISO image will appear in the target directory in 15-20 minutes.
If you want to download the offline bundle image instead of the installation ISO image, use the option -ozip,
You can modify the offline bundle (this is a ZIP archive with ESXi installation files) by adding all the VIB drivers from the specified directory to:
.\ESXi-Customizer-PS.ps1 -izip .\VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-HPE-Gen9plus.zip -pkgDir C:\distr\esxi\driver
You can create an ESXi ISO from your offline bundle, using the following command:
.\ESXi-Customizer-PS.ps1 -izip .\VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-HPE-Gen9plus.zip
The V-Front online repository has a large library of Vibe drivers. You can integrate specific drivers from this repository into an ESXi image like this:
.\ESXi-Customizer-PS.ps1 -v67 -vft -load sata-xahci,net55-r8168,net-e1000e,esx-ui
In this example, we will integrate the following drivers into the ESXi distribution:
- net-e1000e – a network driver for Intel I21782579LM/82574L;
- net51-r8169 – Realtek 8168/8111/8411/8118 NIC driver (it has been removed from ESXi 5.1 and newer);
- esx-ui — ESXi Embedded Host Client, a convenient host web interface (used by default from esxi 5.5 onwards);
- sata-xahci — Map driver to correctly identify some SATA controllers.
As a rule, for most desktop devices it is enough to add the following drivers to the ESXi image:
-v60 -sip -vft -load net-e1000e,net51-r8169,net55-r8168,esx-ui,sata-xahci,net51-sky2,esxcli-shell
To update the offline bundle with the latest patches from the VMware repository:
.\ESXi-Customizer-PS.ps1 -v67 -izip .\VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-HPE-Gen9plus.zip -update
If you receive:
An unexpected error occured: Could not find trusted signer When exporting an image, disable driver signature verification -NSC ,
-noSignatureCheck) alternative. Also, if an error occurs try this option:
[WinError 10054] An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host.
Inject custom driver into ESXi image with ESXi-Customizer GUI
ESXi-Optimizer (GUI) is a small graphical tool with a simple interface that allows you to automate the process of integrating drivers and .vib files into one ESXi ISO image.
ESXi-customizer hasn’t been updated since 2016. The developer reports that only ESXi versions 4.1, 5.0, 5.1 and 5.5 are supported. However, below is a little trick that allows you to use the ESXi-customize GUI even for newer ESXi versions (6.5, 6.7, and 7.0).
Download ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.2.exe (https://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer.html), extract the archive, and run the tool (
ESXi-Customizer.cmd) ESXi-Customizer does not officially support modern Windows versions, so when starting in Windows 10 or 11, an error appears:
--------------------------- ESXi-Customizer v2.7.2 - Message --------------------------- FATAL ERROR: Unsupported Windows Version: 10.0. At least Windows XP is required!
To fix this, edit the ESXi-Customizer.cmd file and comment out the following line (add rem in the beginning):
if "!WinVer!" LSS "5.1" call :earlyFatal Unsupported Windows Version: !WinVer!. At least Windows XP is required & exit /b 1
Save and run the ESXi-Customizer.cmd file. In the next window, specify the path to the source ESXi ISO image, the driver file (VIB file or TGZ archive with drivers), and the folder in which the resulting image with the integrated driver should be saved. Uncheck the Automatic Updates option.
press run button and in a few minutes a new ESXi ISO image will appear in the target directory. You can use this image to install ESXi on your hardware.
If you’re trying to add a driver to an ISO image with ESXi 6.7 or 7.0, an error will appear:
FATAL ERROR: Error un-taring IMGDB.tar!
To fix this fatal error, you need to modify the ESXi image manually:
- Extract your VMware ESXi installation ISO to the directory on the disc;
- Install 7zip archiver on your computer (You can quickly install apps on your computer using Winget package manager:
winget install 7zip.7zip,
- Open the file imgdb.tgz Rename file inside and with 7ZIP IMGDB.tar,
- Now you need to create an ISO image. You can use the free IsoCreator (download IsoCreator.msi, open the file with 7ZIP, and run
- Specify the directory with the name of the ESXi installation files and the ISO file;
- Now you can use this custom ISO image in ESXi-Customizer GUI.
You can now use your ISO image to deploy ESXi on your target host.
Use vCenter Image Builder to Add Drivers to ESXi Custom Images
In vCenter Server, you can use the built-in Image Builder to modify your ESXi installation image. This service is disabled by default. Enable it via vCenter -> Auto Deployment -> enable image creator,
Now you need to create a new software depot And import your ISO image, vib (zip) driver files, and the necessary ESXi updates into it.
Now clone your image. When cloning, you can choose which packages (drivers) to add to this ESXi depot.
After that, click export Download your ESXi installation ISO image with buttons and integrated third-party drivers.