vSphere 6 is GA: The ultimate guide to upgrade your white box to ESXi 6.0

So finally VMware made vSphere 6 generally available (GA)! I already wrote about what we can expect from ESXi 6.0 in terms of white box support and using the free license, and I bet that a lot of people cannot wait to have their boxes upgraded ...

In this post I will explain how you can download ESXi 6.0, what you need to take care of with regards to unsupported hardware and software, how you actually do the upgrade, and how you can build your own customized ESXi 6.0 installation ISO for new installs.

1. How to get the bits

I you have a paid vSphere license under subscription then you can download ESXi 6.0 (and all other vSphere 6 components that you are entitled to) from the My VMware Downloads page.

Even if you will use ESXi only with a free license key you will need a My VMware account for the following steps. If you are already running ESXi then you most probably already have one - if not then register now. It's easy and free.
The free license offering has already been updated to 6.0, so you can then go to the vSphere Hypervisor page to register and download ESXi. There you will also find the license key that you need to enable the features of the free version after installation.

The ESXi installation image can be downloaded in two different formats: On the one hand there is the ISO file (named VMware-VMvisor-Installer-6.0.0-2494585.x86_64.iso) that you just burn to a CD media and use to boot your machine and install or upgrade ESXi on it. On the other hand there is the Offline Bundle (named VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-depot.zip) that you can use to update ESXi directly from the command-line using esxcli. You also need the Offline Bundle to customize the ESXi installation and build your own installation ISO (e.g. with additional drivers).

Unfortunately the Offline Bundle is - right now - only available to you if you have a paid vSphere license under subscription registered with your MyVMware account! On the download page of the free vSphere Hypervisor you will only find the ISO file, and even if you register for a vSphere evaluation you will not be able to download the Offline Bundle, but only the ISO file.

Confused already? Here is another option: A different way to download ESXi is through the VMware Online Depot. The primary purpose of the VMware Online Depot is to serve as a synchronization source for VMware Update Manager (VUM), the product that you use to patch/update ESXi hosts that are managed centrally through vCenter. However, since it is all about patching the ESXi 6.0 GA bundle is usually not available in the Online Depot right away at the GA date, but is added there some time later (at least this is how VMware handled it for the release of ESXi 5.5).
My new service, the ESXi Patch Tracker, can notify you once the ESXi 6.0 GA bundle has been added to the VMware Online Depot, because it does nothing else than querying exactly that. I suggest that you subscribe to its RSS feeds and/or follow its Twitter Bot @ESXiPatches to get the news just in time!
Once the ESXi GA Imageprofile is available in the VMware Online Depot you can upgrade your host directly from it provided that your host has a direct Internet connection. For an offline upgrade you can then also use my ESXi-Customizer-PS script to create both the ESXi 6.0 installation ISO and Offline Bundle. But right now this is not yet an option, and I will explain that in a later post to not further confuse you :)

2. Beware of driver blacklisting: Identify your devices and drivers used

Standard disclaimer / warning

The workaround described in the following sections and any software package that you install through the V-Front Online Depot are neither endorsed nor supported by VMware! Use at your own risk and never on production systems!

When VMware released ESXi 5.5 in 2013 they decided to drop some drivers for NICs from it that are commonly used in consumer grade hardware: r8168 and r8169 for Realtek chips, sky2 for Marvell chips (and less common: s2io for Neterion 10Gb cards). Luckily you could still keep them installed when upgrading from ESXi 5.1 to 5.5 or install them later on top of ESXi 5.5.

With ESXi 6.0 VMware goes a step further and actively prevents installing these drivers by using a blacklisting method that is based on VIB package dependencies! The ESXi system package misc-drivers is flagged to replace the above mentioned driver packages which means that you cannot install misc-drivers and any of these drivers - misc-drivers though is absolutely necessary for ESXi so you must install that!
As a workaround I created new packages that just includes the driver files of the net-r8169 resp. net-sky2 packages, but use a new and different name: net51-r8169 and net51-sky2. As a replacement for net-r8168 please use the updated net55-r8168 driver!

So, are you using one of the blacklisted drivers? Find out by running the command
esxcli network nic list
in an ESXi shell. This command will list all the NICs that are in use on your system together with the associated driver name (in the third column). If this command lists r8168, r8169, sky2 for you then you need to install one of the replacement packages like this - before upgrading to ESXi 6.0:
# Lower the system's acceptance level to allow Community supported packages
esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported
# open firewall for outgoing http requests:
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
# Install e.g. net55-r8168 from the V-Front Online Depot
esxcli software vib install -d https://vibsdepot.v-front.de -n net55-r8168
# Reboot
After a reboot your host will work exactly as before.

3. Check installed packages and take appropriate actions

Before doing the actual upgrade it's a good idea to check if you have other officially unsupported ESXi packages installed on your host, and how they will behave with ESXi 6.0. Let's go through the packages that are available through the V-Front Online Depot:
  • net55-r8168: As stated above it is safe to keep this driver with ESXi 6.0.
  • net-e1000e: This driver by GLRoman updates the ESXi builtin e1000e driver and supports additional Intel Gigabit NICs. In ESXi 6.0 VMware has also updated its own e1000e driver, and - as fas as I could check that - the VMware supplied version in ESXi 6.0 now supports the same set of devices as GLRoman's driver. However, please do not uninstall GLRoman's driver prior to the ESXi upgrade, because this could potentially render your host unable to boot (because of "no supported NIC found"). Instead follow the clean-up steps below (section 5) after the upgrade!
  • net-tulip: This package allows to run nested ESXi hosts under Microsoft's Hyper-V. I have not tested that, but I expect that it is safe to keep that and that it will still work with ESXi 6.0.
  • sata-xahci: This package enables support for additional SATA AHCI controllers. It is still required with and compatible with ESXi 6.0. Keep it if you have that installed.
  • cpu-microcode: This package updates CPU microcode files. It is incompatible with ESXi 6.0, but you do not need to uninstall it prior to the upgrade, because ESXi 6.0 comes with a VMware-supplied package with the same name, and that will just replace the community supported package.
  • ProFTPD: I quickly tested this FTP server with ESXi 6.0 and it worked. However, some users reported that they had issues with this package on ESXi 5.5 that affected system stability, so I no longer recommend using it. Uninstall it with
       esxcli software vib remove -n ProFTPD
    (no reboot required)
  • esxcli-shell: This is an esxcli plugin that allows you to run any ESXi shell command through esxcli. It still works with ESXi 6.0, and it is safe to keep it. However, I wonder for what purposes this can still be useful (Please let me know if you use it!)
  • fw-ntpd: Adds an ESXi firewall rule to allow incoming NTP traffic. The firewall subsystem has not changed in ESXi 6.0, so this package is still compatible and functional with 6.0.
  • esx-tools-for-esxi: The VMware Tools for nested ESXi hosts is a VMware fling that is very useful for virtual ESXi hosts in lab environments. Actually VMware also finds this so useful that it is now officially included in ESXi 6.0. Unfortunately an upgrade to ESXi 6.0 will not remove the old fling version, so I recommend doing this manually before:
       esxcli software vib remove -n esx-tools-for-esxi
    (requires a reboot)
  • vmware-esx-dvfilter-maclearn: Another cool VMware fling that is very useful in nested environments. According to William Lam it is still needed in ESXi 6.0, but none of us has already tested if it is actually still working with ESXi 6.0. At least it survives an upgrade, and it looks like it is safe to keep it.
  • ib-opensm and iperfRaphaël Schitz - the author of these packages - will test them on ESXi 6.0 and let us know if they are compatible. I cannot make a recommendation for them right now, sorry!

If you are unsure then you can check whether you have any of these packages installed by running
   esxcli software vib list | less
in an ESXi shell. This will create a list of all installed packages that you can scroll through using the cursor keys - press Q to return to the command prompt. You can also search for a specific package with
   esxcli software vib list | grep -i <package-name>

4a. Upgrade to ESXi 6.0 using the Offline Bundle

So, now we are finally ready to upgrade your white box to ESXi 6.0! If you managed to get your hands on the Offline Bundle then you can use the following procedure:

1. Upload the ESXi 6.0 Offline Bundle (VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-depot.zip) to the root directory of a datastore that is accessible for your host. Use the the legacy vSphere Client like this:

Host Configuration - Storage - Datastores - Browse Datastore...: Note the datastore name ("VMStore03" in this example)!

In the datastore browser window select the root directory (/) on the left, click on the Upload icon and select Upload File... from the dropdown list. A file selection dialog will pop up now: Select the Offline Bundle from your local hard disk and it will be uploaded to the datastore then.

2. Log in to an ESXi shell and run the upgrade like this:
esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/VMStore03/VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-depot.zip -p ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-standard
In the command string replace VMStore03 with the name of your datastore! Wait for the command to complete successfully. Then reboot and enjoy!

4b. Upgrade to ESXi using the installation ISO

If you are unable to get your hands on the ESXi 6.0 Offline Bundle and only have the ISO file to your avail then you can still upgrade your host by booting it from the ISO and following the built-in upgrade wizard. I have quickly tested that method with a nested ESXi 5.5 host, and it yielded the same result as the Offline Bundle method - the net51-drivers and sata-xahci packages that I installed before the upgrade were preserved!

Here are the steps:

Boot the machine from the ESXi 6.0 installation ISO and advance to this screen:

Press "Cursor Down" and Space here to select "Upgrade", press Enter and confirm on the next screen by pressing F11:

Watch the magic happen ...

... and finally ...

press Enter to reboot to the upgraded system.

4c. If something goes wrong

Please note: If something goes wrong and your system turns out to be unbootable after the ESXi upgrade then it should recover itself by rebooting again from the alternate bootbank that still contains the old system state. You can also manually fail back to the old state by following the KB article Reverting to a previous version of ESXi.

5. Clean-up for net-e1000e users

If you were using GLRoman's net-e1000e package before the upgrade then you are still using it after the upgrade, although the ESXi 6.0 built-in e1000e driver supports the same set of devices. GLRoman's driver will probably also work fine with 6.0, but if you want to maximize the supportability of your hardware then you can replace it with the official VMware driver package - provided that you have the Offline Bundle available. Run the following command to do this:
esxcli software vib install -d /vmfs/volumes/VMStore03/VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-depot.zip -n net-e1000e
Use the same path to the ESXi 6.0 Offline Bundle (following -d) that you were using for the upgrade! A reboot is required.

6. Create a custom installation ISO for ESXi 6.0

Do you prefer to do a clean install of ESXi 6.0 (instead of an upgrade), or do you want to install a new white box? My ESXi-Customizer-PS script will help you to create a customized installation ISO that has the necessary packages already included! However, right now this is only possible if you have the ESXi 6.0 Offline Bundle available. Run a command like
C:\scripts\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.3.ps1 -izip C:\TEMP\VMware-ESXi-6.0.0-2494585-depot.zip -vft -load net51-drivers,sata-xahci
in a PowerCLI session. You need to specify the full path to the ps1-script (at the beginning) and the full path to the Offline Bundle (following the -izip switch)! In this example the script is stored in the directory C:\scripts and the Offline Bundle is in C:\TEMP.

This command will create a customized ESXi 6.0 installation ISO in the current directory that has the net51-drivers and sata-xahci packages built-in. You can as well add any of the other packages that are available in the V-Front Online Depot by specifying their names in a comma separated list after the -load switch!

7. One more thing ...: USB 3.0 support

A while ago I wrote about USB 3.0 support being introduced in ESXi 5.5. Good news: This is also available in ESXi 6.0. Even better: On my test system the xhci-xhci driver that provides this support was loaded automatically on boot, so the workaround of editing the local boot script /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh is no longer needed.

8. To be continued / updated

This is the first version of my Ultimate guide to upgrade your white box to ESXi 6.0 - I hope you like it! I will complement it with a follow-up post as soon as the ESXi 6.0 GA Imageprofile is available in the VMware Online Depot (which will make upgrading ESXi and using ESXi-Customizer-PS even easier). And I will update this post with whatever information adds value. Please comment if you miss anything or have specific questions!

Update (2015-03-31):
Good news: If you use the new free VMware Software Manager tool to download ESXi 6.0 then your downloads will include the ESXi Offline Bundle - even if you have registered for the vSphere evaluation only!

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. Thank you for your ultimate guide, but the question is:

    Is there any reason for Free users to upgrade from 5.5? As I read through your posts about 6.0 I didn't find anything really new and great.

    1. Little, I agree.

      My guide is not only for free license users, but also for those who use paid or evaluation licenses in lab environments.

  2. Lovely article as always. Cant wait to get my hands on the bundle and use your script to throw in the extra sata and microcode update,spot on! Actually voted up both you and william lam amongst others for the vblog of 2015! If it hadent been for your blog i most likely would just let esxi/any bare metal hypervisor pass on as it seemed unpossibel to install.Thanks again

    1. Thank you very much!

      But please keep in mind that the cpu-microcode package from my depot is not compatible with ESXi 6.0. I will look into what microcode updates are included with ESXi 6.0 and if I can make a compatible version of my package if needed.

  3. Duly noted!Have a bad habit when commenting anonymousely to forget put in my signature,anyways the post is by Hendrix (online alias) am a total nut job also ,i know =)

  4. Able to upgrade to ESXi 6.0 without any issues but when I try to installed the
    Vsphere viclient 6.0 keep getting the vmwareremoteconsole.dll cannot be registered.
    Tried to register manually but keep getting file not found even though it is in the correct directory. Trying to install the viclient 6.0 on Windows 8.1
    Any ideas anyone?

  5. Do paid 5.5 keys work with paid 6.0?

    1. No, you need to upgrade them in the MyVMware portal. This is for free if they are under subscription.

  6. Two questions:
    1). What about those who wish to install ESXi 6.0 from scratch but using 8168,8169 NICs? Does ESXi Customizer v2.7.2 can inject net51-drivers in VMware .ISO as I used to do in 5.5 ?
    2), May I upgrade my ESXi 5.5 to 6.0 or should I upgrade first from vCenter 5.5 to 6.0 and then proceed with ESXi upgrade ?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      1). see section 6 of my post. You need the Offline Bundle, or wait until the Imageprofile becomes available through the VMware Online Depot. The legacy ESXi-Customizer tool might also work (or not).

      2). When using a vCenter server you need to upgrade vCenter before you upgrade any hosts that are managed by this vCenter server.


    2. With ESXi-Customizer v2.7.2 I succesfully added VIBs "net51-drivers" and "sata-xahci" to the free vSphere 6.0 ISO. Installation went well on my system with 8168 Realtek NIC.

    3. Legacy ESXi-Customizer still works just great for vSphere 6/

  7. Hi, thanks for the great article! I have a question regarding Adaptec raid drivers.
    I had downloaded a driver from https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/details?downloadGroup=DT-ESXI55-PMC-AACRAID-52140700&productId=353 and integrated it into VSphere 5.5 with your ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.3.ps1. Now I see at https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/details?downloadGroup=DT-ESXI60-PMC-AACRAID-62140709&productId=490 that there is a new version for VSphere 6. How can I integrate it into the image downloaded from VMware (since the online depot does not provide 6.0 yet) and will it replace the old version of the driver? Thanks!

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      you can get your hands on the ESXi 6.0 GA Offline bundle by registering for a vSphere evaluation and downloading ESXi through the new Software Manager tool.

      I just updated my post to include this new information (see bottom).


  8. Do you happen to know if the VT-d pass through is still broken (for whitebox) on 6.0? - I had to roll back 5.5 to 5.1 as 5.5 refused to pass my on-board SATA controller to a VM...

    1. Good question - I don't know and I cannot really test this. I suggest that you try yourself and/or follow relevant threads at communities.vmware.com


  9. Thanks that this site exists, it already helped me back with ESXi 5.5 to install on my X10SL7-F mainboard (using ESXi-Customizer to include Intel IGB NIC drivers).

    Although since 5.5u2 (specifically since build 1881737) I have the problem that ESXi wont start sucessfully anymore.
    I now also have this problem with a clean fresh ESXi 6.0.0 installation. Is this some sort of incompatability with my Mainboard?

    Although from official knowledgebase I only read that build 1881737 (first build that did not work correctly) there was only a bugfix in esx-base for a NFS problem?

    My mainboard has an Intel i210AT NIC if that matters.
    I do not get purple screen or other error messages, boot sequence (beginning with vpxa, sfcbd-watchdog, wsman, vmtoolsd) seems to take ages and apparently never complete (hangs). Did someone encounter a similar problem?

    1. Apparently it seems it was a hardware problem.
      Used a StarTech CF-Card RAID1 Mirrored device for the Host, replaced it with a standard 2,5" hard disk drive and everything boots as normal!?

  10. Dear Andreas,

    Thank you very mutch the NET51 pack! Our custom Asus based macine has a Realtek network card so now it's working with 6.0.
    We have other two HP DL380 G6 servers. The first cannot contains any HDD the ESXi run from usb drive and the storage come from iSCSI. When I upgraded from 5.1 to 5.5 I used the standard image so I think I can use this method for 6.0 too. But we have another one HP which contains RAID controller and SAS disks in logical volume.
    I would like to ask shall I use the standard 6.0 image and when it upgrade the system it keep the RAID drivers or download HP custom image and inject somehow into the 6.0 offline boundle?

    Best Regards,

    Bela Vajda

    1. Hi Bela,

      for HP servers you should just use the HP customized ESXi 6.0 ISO or Offline Bundle for upgrading. You can find the download links on my HP&VMware Links page.


  11. I found the answer: To list out the image profiles that are contained in the offline bundle using esxcli.
    esxcli software sources profile list -d /vmfs/volumes/blah/ESX-blah.zip

    Maybe you could add that somewhere here?

  12. Ok I came across this AFTER my failed ESXi 6 upgrade...lol, I am also using shuttles and use my internal nics (reltek 8168) for management and a Intel dual nic for the vm's. Is it too late to fix this issue? I'm up and running but had to switch the mgt nics to one of my Intel ports to connect to it.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      no, it's not too late. You can still install the net51-drivers package (like explained) in my post to re-enable the NIC, or the net55-r8168 driver which also works fine with Realtek R8168 NICs.


  13. Hello

    And what about the Atheros AR8151 driver ?
    does it work ?


    1. Hi Stan,
      what Atheros driver? I'm not aware of that one!?

  14. Thank you. Thank you. This article saved me. Especially the Shift-R as I upgraded BEFORE I setup the 8168 nic vib for 6.0. I was able to roll back and do it the right way as you show here.

  15. thanks ! absolutely magnificent !

    grz floaty

  16. Amazing. I used your net55-r8168 package to get my Realtek 8168 network adapter working on an ESXi 6.0 install. Since then, there have been some patches released with newer build numbers. What's the correct way to apply an ESXi 6 patch, such that the net55-r8168 package will be preserved?

    1. Thanks for the speedy reply! So from what I understand:
      esxcli software profile update -d [url] -p ESXi-[build]-standard

      and this will preserve the net55-r8168 drivers, correct?

    2. Thanks for taking the time to verify this. I can confirm that I was able to update to ESXi-6.0.0-20150704001-standard using this procedure. The net55-r8168 drivers remained untouched :) Cheers!

  17. Andreas,

    Thank you for your guide, this was really helpful, and my ESXI whitebox server is updated to ESXI 6 now. really appreciated.

  18. Like some others, I came across this post after a failed 5.5 to 6.0 upgrade. The scan detected unsupported devices 8086:107c and 8086:1376. I have an old HP xw8400 workstation that I added two NICs to that may be the culprit. Intel Corporation 82574L and Intel Corporation 82541PI. Do you have a driver package for these NICs? The HCL for 6.0 still has the 82574, so I think it's just the 82541.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Michael,

      warning messages about unsupported devices during upgrades are warnings only. The devices will continue to work nevertheless, and you do not (yet) need a custom driver for them.

      BTW "8086:107c 8086:1376" is really one ONE device that it warns about. 8086:107c is its PCI vendor:device ID, and 8086:1376 is its subvendor:subdevice ID. This device is still usable with the ESXi built-in e1000 driver, so nothing to worry about!


    2. I appreciate the reply, Andreas. The upgrade attempt yielded an error: "Hardware configuration of host is incompatible". When I check the scan, it gives the same device IDs as above. So it appears that I cannot upgrade to 6.0. I am attempting the upgrade from Update Manager with an imported ISO (I have tried the "vanilla" and the HP provided ISO).

    3. That's too bad ... You can also try to upgrade using the Offline bundle or directly from the Online Depot (see http://www.v-front.de/2015/04/esxi-60-hits-vmware-online-depot-what.html).

      By now you should probably upgrade directly to ESXi 6.0 Update 1 which was just released :-)

  19. Thanks for all your work on this! I used the VMware Software Manager to download ESXi 6.0 but couldn't identify the offline bundle anywhere. Does your update note from (2015-03-31) still apply? I have realtek nics that aren't supported, and am doing a clean install of 6.0, so need to integrate the drivers into the install iso. Really need to get my hands on the Offline Bundle ASAP!

    1. Hi Tony,

      you can now also build your own Offline bundle using my ESXi-Customizer-PS script. See here: http://www.v-front.de/2015/04/esxi-60-hits-vmware-online-depot-what.html, section 3.


  20. Hey, wanted to say thanks, as this allowed me to get ESXi 6 installed. I was wondering if you had any feedback on getting a 2nd NIC installed though. I have 1 NIC on the motherboard, and 1 as a PCIe Card, both of which use the r8168 driver, however I've had absolutely no luck getting ESXi to install the PCIe NIC.
    Here's the output showing the installed nics, vs the hardware it sees:

    [[email protected]:~] esxcfg-nics -l
    Name PCI Driver Link Speed Duplex MAC Address MTU Description
    vmnic0 0000:03:00.0 r8168 Up 1000Mbps Full 40:::removed:::1c 1500 Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. P8 series motherboard
    [[email protected]:~]
    [[email protected]:~]
    [[email protected]:~] lspci -v | grep -A1 -i ethernet
    0000:01:00.0 Ethernet controller Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller [vmnic1]
    Class 0200: 10ec:8168
    0000:03:00.0 Ethernet controller Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. P8 series motherboard [vmnic0]
    Class 0200: 10ec:8168

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      looks like the driver is loaded also for the second NIC, but it is unable to initialize it. You can check for driver related error messages in the boot.log file like this:

      gunzip -cd /var/log/boot.msg | grep r8168


  21. Hi Andreas,
    it took me some tries, but I have successfully installed esxi 6.0 on a Dell Vostro V131 using the net55-r8168 drivers.

    Thanks a lot for your guide, I had actually lost hope I could do it.

  22. Great Article, helped me too

  23. Hi, great article. I'm having problems creating ISO for v.60 with net51-sky2. I'm using this command line: PS C:\Scripts> .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -v60 -vft -load Net-sky2-1 and i got this error:

    ADVERTENCIA: The image profile fails validation. The ISO / Offline Bundle will still be generated but may contain errors and may not boot or be
    functional. Errors:
    ADVERTENCIA: VIB VFrontDe_bootbank_net-sky2-1_1.3.0-1 requires net-sky2, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile. However,
    additional VIB(s) VMware_bootbank_net-sky2_1.20-2vmw.510.0.0.799733, VMware_bootbank_net-sky2_1.20-2vmw.500.0.0.469512 from depot can satisfy this

    1. Hi JesusV,

      you need to run

      .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -v60 -vft -load net51-sky2


  24. Is there any risk of overwriting your custom drivers if I apply the latest ESXi update? I've noticed that there are several driver packages in the latest update from VMware.

    1. Only if the VMware supplied driver package has the same name (e.g. "net-e1000e") AND a higher version number than your custom driver package.

      And if that really is the case then the VMware supplied driver will usually support the same set of (or more) devices than your custom driver.

  25. So unless there's a vib listed on the ESXi 6 update page named 'net55-r8168', there's no risk of overwriting the v-front.de driver package?

  26. I successfully setup ESXi 6.0.U1b on 2 Shuttle DS81s with Realtek 8168 NICs. I don't know if something changed with the later versions of 6 but using your script and new 8168 drivers would not install correctly from scratch. I had to use your script and the new drivers with the latest 5.5. Then the only way I could get 6 on was your offline bundle method above. Everything worked but I tried doing the direct upgrade to 6 using the standard ISO only to have the install fail saying no NICs were found.

    I don't know if the problem I ran into was trying to go straight to 6.0U1b or if something has changed since you wrote this. Either way thanks for the information. It took a little trial and error but my servers are up and running on 6.0.U1b with dual Realtek NICs.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I'm not sure why this would not work. Can you share the command/parameters that you used for creating the ISO?


  27. I have a PC based on ASUS P5Q Pro motherboard: Embedded Network Card is Atheros chip (PCI IDs: 1969:1026). This Network Card is listed as Atheros AR8121/AR8113/AR8114 PCI-E Ethernet Controller in Windows 7 Device Manager. I had planned to install ESXi 6.0 U1b for testing purposes in VMware Workstation 12 Pro.

    I downloaded Net-atl1e drivers from https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net-atl1e and created a custom ISO Image via ESXi-Customizer-PS / VMware Image Builder (I tried two ways: 1) Offline bundle 2).\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -v60 -vft -load net-atl1e online option). I also check with the command Get-ESXSoftwarePackage that the driver net-atl1e is successfully integrated (AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported).

    But the problem persists - I get an error again: No network adapters detected. The driver Net-atl1e isn't suitable. How to solve the problem, where is correct Atheros driver for ESXi 6.0?

    Very many thanks.
    PS. The problem 'No network adapters' doesn't exist for VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 3 (It's OK, no Custom ISO Image required).


    1. Hi Andreas,

      if you install ESXi as a VM inside VMware Workstation then you don't need any drivers of your native hardware, because ESXi will only see the hardware that is emulated by VMware Workstation.

      Just configure the ESXi VM with an e1000 NIC and installation will succeed with the regular VMware ISO (no additional drivers needed).

      If you want to install ESXi directly on the ASUS system then you would need the Atheros driver. Did you try that already?


    2. Hi Andreas,

      Thanks! Indeed, the drivers for the native network card is not required: VMware Workstation emulates a network card of another type.

      According official documentation:
      "When you use the New Virtual Machine wizard to create a new virtual machine, the wizard creates a virtual
      network adapter for the virtual machine. The virtual network adapter appears in the guest operating system
      as an AMD PCNET PCI adapter or Intel Pro/1000 MT Server Adapter".

      But there is no direct choice of the generated virtual adapter type. I checked the virtual machine configuration file (vmx): ethernet0.virtualDev = "e1000"

      I used the native image ESXi 6.0 U1b. I get an error 'No network adapters' and installation cann't continue.

      I tried to integrate drivers from https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net-e1000e via .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -v60 -vft -load net-e1000e, but there is no result, the problem persists.

      What can be wrong? Thanks)


    3. Hmmm, not sure. Works for me, I just checked that. Is there actually a NIC displayed in "Edit Virtual Machine Settings..."?

      Can you just start over and create a new VM?

    4. I tried to re-create the virtual machine from scratch. When it was created no choice of emulated virtual adapter type. Available settings: Bridged / NAT / Host-only / Custom (Specific VMnet Network Connection) and Device Status (Connect at Power on), thats all. VMware Workstation 12 Pro (12.1.0).

  28. quite nice.... didn't see that my Realtek 8168 doesn't work any more... but I have a quadport server NIC with 4x PCIE E1000E chips so I don't care. And support for link aggregation is somehow broken. ping works, iSCSI path detection works but no volumes found :-( Exactly the same config on ESXi 5.5 lists my three LUN on a DS414

  29. Great guide, thank you very much for your precious work that makes our lives much easier. Upgrade from 5.5 with 2 8168s and 1 8169 to 6.0 without a glitch following the instructions here. When I run "esxcli system version get" I get:
    Product: VMware ESXi
    Version: 6.0.0
    Build: Releasebuild-3568943
    Update: 1
    Patch: 31
    Considering I was using the offline package update-from-esxi6.0-6.0_update02.zip I was suprised to see "Update: 1"; I was looking for a 2 and am wondering why. On the vSphere Client I get ESXi 6.0.0 Build 3568943.

    Thanks again and best wishes!

    1. Hi Daniel,

      it looks like you used the "security-only" Imageprofile ESXi-6.0.0-20160301001s-standard of Update 2 to update your host. You should use the "full" profile ESXi-6.0.0-20160302001-standard instead.


    2. ...much better; that little s made all the difference. Thanks again Andreas!

      [[email protected]:~] esxcli system version get
      Product: VMware ESXi
      Version: 6.0.0
      Build: Releasebuild-3620759
      Update: 2
      Patch: 34
      [[email protected]:~]

  30. Hi Andreas,

    I'm having some problems with the script when trying to create a custom image file for ESXi 6 Update 2.

    I have a Realtek NIC 8168, and never had issues before with your script up until this point.

    The script itself doesn't exit on error, but provides several warnings, and when booting from the image, it will freeze indicating something is wrong with the image.

    I hope you could help me out,

    Here's a link to the output of the script along with the command I executed:



    1. Hi Omid,

      you are trying to add the original net-r8168 package by VMware, but this is blacklisted (like explained in my post) and does not work.

      Please add the package net55-r8168 instead.


    2. Hi Andreas,

      I can't believe I missed that!

      Everything works. Thanks so much again for all the great work!


  31. Looks like I have hit a wall..

    PowerCLI D:\ESXi-Customizer> .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 -iZip .\ESXi-6.0.0-20160504001-standard.zip -pkgDir D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg -nsc -outDir D:\ESXi-Customizer\iso -sip -log D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\ESXi-Customizer-PS.log

    Using Imageprofile ESXi-6.0.0-20160504001-standard ...
    (dated 04/29/2016 04:20:29, AcceptanceLevel: PartnerSupported,
    For more information, see http://kb.vmware.com/kb/2145070.)

    Loading Offline bundles and VIB files from D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg ...
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\e1000e- ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-e1000e [New AcceptanceLevel: CommunitySupported] [OK, replaced]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\fw-ntpd-1.2.0-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB fw-ntpd 1.2.0-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-atl1-2.1.3-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-atl1 2.1.3-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-atl1e- ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-atl1e [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-forcedeth-1-1.0.0-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-forcedeth-1 1.0.0-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-igb-5.2.10-9.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-igb 5.2.10-9 [OK, replaced]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-r8101-1.020.00-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-r8101 1.020.00-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-r8139too-0.9.28-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-r8139too 0.9.28-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-skge-1.13-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-skge 1.13-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-sky2-1-1.3.0-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-sky2-1 1.3.0-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net-tulip-1.1.15-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net-tulip 1.1.15-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net51-drivers-1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net51-drivers 1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net51-r8169-6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net51-r8169 6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net51-sky2-1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net51-sky2 1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB net55-r8168 8.039.01-napi [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\sata-xahci-1.35-1.x86_64.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB sata-xahci 1.35-1 [OK, added]
    Loading D:\ESXi-Customizer\pkg\vmware-esx-dvfilter-maclearn-1.0.vib ... [OK]
    Add VIB vmware-esx-dvfilter-maclearn 1.00-1.00 [OK, added]

  32. Exporting the Imageprofile to 'D:\ESXi-Customizer\iso\ESXi-6.0.0-20160504001-standard-customized.iso'. Please be patient...

    WARNING: The image profile fails validation. The ISO / Offline Bundle will still be generated but may contain errors and may not boot or be functional.

    WARNING: File path of '/usr/share/hwdata/driver.pciids.d/r8169.ids' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-r8169_6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])
    WARNING: File path of '/etc/vmware/driver.map.d/r8169.map' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-r8169_6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])
    WARNING: File path of '/usr/lib/vmware/vmkmod/r8168' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi'])
    WARNING: VIBs (VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733, VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-r8169_6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733) are conflicting with each other
    WARNING: VIBs (VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733, VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-sky2_1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733) are conflicting with each other
    WARNING: File path of '/etc/vmware/driver.map.d/r8168.map' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi'])
    WARNING: VIBs (Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi, VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.79973 VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-r8169_6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733, VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-sky2_1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733) are conflicting with each other
    WARNING: File path of '/etc/vmware/driver.map.d/sky2.map' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-sky2_1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])
    WARNING: File path of '/usr/share/hwdata/driver.pciids.d/sky2.ids' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-sky2_1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])
    WARNING: VIBs (Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi, VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.79973 are conflicting with each other
    WARNING: File path of '/usr/lib/vmware/vmkmod/sky2' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-sky2_1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])
    WARNING: File path of '/usr/lib/vmware/vmkmod/r8169' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-r8169_6.011.00-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])
    WARNING: File path of '/etc/vmware/driver.map.d/sky2-1.map' is claimed by multiple non-overlay VIBs: set(['VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-drivers_1.1.0-1vft.510.0.0.799733','VFrontDe_bootbank_net51-sky2_1.20-2vft.510.0.0.799733'])

    1. Hi Netzian,

      do NOT add the net51-drivers package. It's obsolete and replaced by some of the others that you are also adding. See https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net51-drivers.


  33. Thanks for helping out!!

  34. So is there a way to install realtek drivers for ESXi 6.5?

    [[email protected]:/tmp] esxcli software vib update -f -d "/tmp/net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi-offline_bundle.zip"
    Installation Result
    Message: Host is not changed.
    Reboot Required: false
    VIBs Installed:
    VIBs Removed:
    VIBs Skipped: Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi
    [[email protected]:/tmp]

    Apparently not?

    1. This message means that the package is already installed. You probably upgraded from 6.0 to 6.5 and the driver got preserved, and it should still work fine.

  35. Andreas. thanks for the detailed post. However I am running in to an issue with step #2. I am trying to upgrade from 5.1 to 6.0u2

    ~ # esxcli software vib install -d https://vibsdepot.v-front.de -n net55-r8168

    VIB Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi requires vmkapi_2_2_0_0, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile.
    VIB Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi requires com.vmware.driverAPI-, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile.
    Please refer to the log file for more details.

    I have these 2 NIC cards and that is why i am following your method

    vmnic4 0000:006:00.0 r8168 Up 1000 Full 90:2b:34:ad:89:dc 1500 Realtek Realtek 8168 Gigabit Ethernet
    vmnic5 0000:008:06.0 r8169 Up 1000 Full 00:14:d1:1d:60:a3 1500 Realtek Realtek 8169 Gigabit Ethernet

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      upgrade to ESXi 5.5 first, then install net55-r8168, then upgrade to 6.0 (or 6.5).


  36. I also tried to create the iso using the bundle with this cmd
    ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.5.ps1 -izip .\update-from-esxi6.0-6.0_update02.zip -vft -load net55-r8168,net51-r8169

    It is failing to fetch net51-r8169. I cannot find the similar net55-8169 on your repo either. I managed to install with just net55-r8168 and upgraded to 6.0. Lost one NIC port but i had one extra so i switched.
    But curious where i made the error and hoping this can help others

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      that works for me. The net51-r8169 package is in the depot and accessible. What error message do you get?


  37. Moin Andreas,

    erst einmal ein großes Lob für die Seite. Vllt. kannst du mir helfen?
    Ich versuche das Upgrade von 6.02 auf 6.5, allerdings zeigt er mir keine meiner Platten mehr an. Ich habe ein MSI Z68I Board, der AHCI Treiber wird durch ESXi von Hause aus unterstützt. Den Realtek Treiber habe ich in das ISO eingepflegt. Nach meinen Recherchen sollte eigentlich alles unterstützt werden, halt bis auf die NICs.

    lspci -v
    0000:00:00.0 Host bridge Bridge: Intel Corporation 4th Gen Core Processor DRAM Controller
    Class 0600: 8086:0c00

    0000:00:02.0 VGA compatible controller Display controller: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller
    Class 0300: 8086:0402

    0000:00:14.0 USB controller Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB xHCI
    Class 0c03: 8086:8c31

    0000:00:16.0 Communication controller Communication controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1
    Class 0780: 8086:8c3a

    0000:00:1a.0 USB controller Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB EHCI #2
    Class 0c03: 8086:8c2d

    0000:00:1c.0 PCI bridge Bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #1 [PCIe RP[0000:00:1c.0]]
    Class 0604: 8086:8c10

    0000:00:1c.2 PCI bridge Bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #3 [PCIe RP[0000:00:1c.2]]
    Class 0604: 8086:8c14

    0000:00:1c.3 PCI bridge Bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #4 [PCIe RP[0000:00:1c.3]]
    Class 0604: 8086:8c16

    0000:00:1c.4 PCI bridge Bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #5 [PCIe RP[0000:00:1c.4]]
    Class 0604: 8086:8c18

    0000:00:1d.0 USB controller Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB EHCI #1
    Class 0c03: 8086:8c26

    0000:00:1f.0 ISA bridge Bridge: Intel Corporation Z87 Express LPC Controller
    Class 0601: 8086:8c44

    0000:00:1f.2 SATA controller Mass storage controller: Intel Corporation Lynx Point AHCI Controller [vmhba0]
    Class 0106: 8086:8c02

    0000:00:1f.3 SMBus Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller
    Class 0c05: 8086:8c22

    0000:02:00.0 Ethernet controller Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller [vmnic0]
    Class 0200: 10ec:8168

    0000:03:00.0 Ethernet controller Network controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller [vmnic1]
    Class 0200: 10ec:8168

    0000:04:00.0 Network controller Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Wireless-N 2230 BGN
    Class 0280: 8086:0887


    1. Hallo Tobi,
      möglicherweise gibt es ein Problem mit dem neuen nativen AHCI-Treiber. Versuche ihn wie in meinem Post beschrieben zu deaktivieren. Wenn Du ihn bereits beim Booten/Installieren deaktivieren willst, dann benutze die Anleitung hier: http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2017/01/esxi-6-5-support-for-apple-mac-pro-61.html.



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