Sunday, April 11, 2021

Building ESXi 6.7u3 over Mini PC PN50

Today I have decided enough is enough, it had been long overdue since I have had my own home lab however I didn't want to go overboard crazy expensive setup! 

I have at home NAS from asustor AS5304T that i use for home backup and external storage.

For network I have AX6000 that provide both wired and wireless coverage throughout my apartment. 

And today I have added to the setup also this nice Mini PC PN60 from asus that arrive bare bone with no memory or hard drive, so I added 32Gb RAM and 512GB NVMe from XPG.

first I thought well that would be simple installation but I was wrong, other then hardware install that was really easy and smooth I have ran into 2 main challenges that i would like to share the solution hopefully it would make your life a bit easier, in order for that to happen you would need to prepare a bootable USB and install over it your image:

Challenge #1 :

Network card identification

In order to overcome the issue

  • make sure you download the 6.7update3 zip bundle from 
  • For the next part make sure you Open Powershell and run:
    • Import-Module PowerShellGet
    • Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI -AllowClobber
  • Post Installation:
  • Cd to dir that contain both realtek and the zip bundle and run:
    • Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\, .\
  • Get Imported Profiles:
    • Get-EsxImageProfile
  • Create New Profile:
    • New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-6.7.0-xxxxxx-standard -name ESXi-6.7.0-xxxxxx-standard-<YourName> -Vendor <YourName>
  • Accept your new Profile:
    • Set-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXi-6.7.0-xxxxxx-standard-<YourName> -AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported
  • Validate you see your newly created profile:
    • Get-EsxImageProfile
  • Identify your the name of the new driver
    • Get-EsxSoftwarePackage | Where {$_.Vendor -eq "Realtek"}
  • Apply the driver to the image:
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-6.7.0-xxxxxx-standard-<YourName> -SoftwarePackage <eg. net55-r8168>
  • Create your new ISO file:
    • Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXi-6.7.0-xxxxxx-standard-<YourName> -ExportToIso -filepath .\ESXi-6.7.0-xxxxxx-standard-<YourName>.iso

If you made it this far you have a new custom ISO file that is ready to be used and deployed over a USB drive.

To make a bootable USB drive I used my mac but you can use mac / windows or Linux to generate a bootable USB with the iso generated.

Nice guides: 

Bootable ESXI USB over Mac 

Bootable ESXI USB over Linux

Bootable ESXI USB over Windows

Now for challenge #2, although you have a bootable USB now it would not work until you would resolve the 2nd issue with NVMe Identification I use by default it would not be identified by the ESXi installation and the solution is surprisingly simple:

  • You will need to download ESXi 6.5 update02 it is critical not to download later version as it may not identify the storage device
  • Open iso with any means you have and extract file name NVME.V00 and simply replace the file over the USB you created. 
Now your USB is ready and installation would run smooth , Next Next Next Done...