What's new in the V-Front Online Depot - or - how to install ESXi on an HP Pavilion 17 notebook

Recently I added some new NIC drivers to the V-Front Online Depot. Well, they are not really new, but were created back in 2011/12 by a Japanese guy who goes by the nickname ichi. He was actively participating in Dave Mishchenko's vm-help.com forums and posted the drivers there.

Although I was aware of them since then I did not add them to the Depot before - I thought that no one would really need them these days, because the NIC models that they support are pretty old and rarely used today. I was wrong, at least in one case, because I needed one of these drivers myself to install ESXi on a brand new HP Pavilion 17 notebook that I just purchased ...

Here is a complete list of newly added packages:
  • net-r8101: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E driver (This one I needed for the HP Pavilion 17)
  • net-r8139too: Realtek RTL-8100/8101L/8139 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter Driver
  • net-atl1: Attansic/Atheros L1 Gigabit Ethernet driver
  • net-atl1e: Atheros(R) AR8121/AR8113/AR8114/AR8131/AR8132/AR8152 PCI-E Ethernet NICs driver
  • net-skge: Marvell Yukon chipset and SysKonnect Gigabit Ethernet Adapters driver
  • net-forcedeth-1: Adds the PCI IDs of various Nvidia nForce NICs to the existing net-forcedeth driver
They are all compatible with both ESXi 5.x and 6.0. On the Wiki pages of the drivers you will find a complete list of the supported devices' PCI IDs. By following the instructions in my "How to make your unsupported NIC work with ESXi 5.x or 6.0" post you will be able to find out if one of these drivers will work for and how you can use them. When using the V-Front Online Depot for the first time you should also have a quick look at the announcement blog post to learn about the various methods to access it.

An example: To create the custom ESXi 6.0 installation ISO for my HP Pavilion 17 notebook I used my ESXi-Customizer-PS script like this:

  .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -v60 -vft -load net-r8101

Please keep in mind this general disclaimer when using the V-Front Online Depot: All of the ESXi software packages that are available here are neither endorsed nor supported by VMware! Use them at your own risk and never on production systems!

Anyway, the drivers that are available here have already helped a lot of people to get ESXi up and running on some random hardware, just to play around with it and get a first impression, without investing tons of money in new systems that are on the VMware HCL. They are also used by vExperts and other VMware professionals to run their labs on whitebox hardware that is - although powerful - not officially supported by VMware. And of course I haven't bought my notebook to run ESXi on it, but it was fun to get it installed and running there!

So a special thanks goes to ichi and all the other people that invest(ed) their time in building these drivers for the community - you rock!

This post first appeared on the VMware Front Experience Blog and was written by Andreas Peetz. Follow him on Twitter to keep up to date with what he posts.


  1. Hi Andreas, I'm trying to install ESXi 5.5 or 6 on a system built with an AMD A4 3300 and a Gigabyte GA-A55M-DS2. thanks to your tool the NIC was recognised. It also recognises the drives well, but after that, on a certain stage detecting further components, it stops with an error message saying "unexpected error occurred valueerror invalid parameter" and the error code string is not a number but a very long alphanumeric one. I used for this the ESXi ISO 5.5 or 6 image and only added the NIC driver with your great tool. Can you give me a brief help? thank you very much. PS: My goal is to build a lab to learn about the basics of ESXi. Greetings,

    1. Hi Pablo,

      not sure what's happening here. You might be able to find more information by looking at the VMkernel.log when the error happens. At the console press Alt-F12 to switch to the log view.


  2. Thank you so much for you great article. I had an awesome experience trying to do this for a company PoC requirement.


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