Thursday, October 13, 2016

Vmware ESXI 5.5 on core i5 Nuc

This page has some interesting notes employed in installing vmware esxi 5.5 on core i5 NUC.  Though that is an older than the latest release, this has some good techniques for esxi, including package installation.

Intel has begun to deliver their 5th Gen Broadwell NUCs. At the moment, only NUCs with i3 CPUs are available. NUCs with faster CPUs are available in the next few weeks. I could get my hands on the NUC5i3MYHE. That’s the version with a 2.5″ HDD slot and without integrated WLAN. This post quickly explains how to get ESXi running on the 5th Gen NUC. As known from 3th and 4th gen NUCs, it is not possible to use the ESXi Installer provided by VMware.esxi-on-5th-gen-NUC5i3MYHE
I’m confident that this guide will also work for i5 and i7 NUCs, as from what I’ve seen in the documentation they have identical controllers:
  • Intel NUC5i7RYH
  • Intel NUC5i5RYH
  • Intel NUC5i5MYHE
  • Intel NUC5i5RYK
  • Intel NUC5i3RYH
  • Intel NUC5i3MYHE
  • Intel NUC5i3RYK
I’ve used the following configuration:
To not have compatibility issues, check the following:
  • NUC has a Mini HDMI and Mini DisplayPort. Make sure to have an adapter.
  • Supported M.2 SSD sizes are 22×24, 22×60 and 22×80
  • NUC requires 1.35V SODIMM Memory
When you try to install ESXi 5.5 to the NUC, the installation fails with the following error message:
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 there is at least one network adapter physically connected to the system before attempting installation. If the problem persists, consult the VMware Knowledge Base.
You have to create a customized ESXi Image. The custom driver has been created about a year ago by GLRoman and is available at VMware Community or at the vibsdepot from VMware Front Experience.
You can either download ESXi and the e1000 driver manually, or simply use the following PowerCLI commands to create a customized ISO. This will download all required files automatically.

New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-standard" -name "ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-NUC" -Vendor "" -AcceptanceLevel "CommunitySupported"
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "net-e1000e"
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "sata-xahci"
Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-NUC" -ExportToISO -filepath ESXi-5.5.0-20150204001-NUC.iso

If you are unfamiliar with PowerCLI, read this post for a more detailed guide.
With this image you should be able to install ESXi 5.5 on a USB flash drive connected to the NUC.


At this point, ESXi does not detect the storage controller, so you are not able to use local storage. ESXi 5.5 does not detect local storage controllers because the PCI ID is not mapped to the AHCI driver. This workaround is no longer required as Andreas Peetz has added the PCI ID to his sata-xahci package.


No problem, we can fix that. First step is to determine the PCI ID:
~ # lspci -v | grep storage -A 1
0000:00:1f.2 SATA controller Mass storage controller: Intel Corporation Wildcat Point-LP SATA Controller [AHCI Mode]
     Class 0106: 8086:9c83
The numbers we are looking for are 8086:9c83. We have to add that to the AHCI driver map (/etc/vmware/ Unfortunately we can’t edit this file while ESXi is running. The changes have to be made to the file that is loaded during ESXi startup (/bootbank/sata_ahc.v00). Convert the file with vmtar, extract it, change the driver map and rebuild it to /bootbank/. To do that, SSH to the ESXi and run the following commands:

cd /tmp 
mkdir ahci
cd ahci
vmtar -x /bootbank/sata_ahc.v00 -o sata_ahc.tar 
tar xvf sata_ahc.tar
rm sata_ahc.tar
echo "regtype=linux,bus=pci,id=8086:9c83 0000:0000,driver=ahci,class=storage" >> etc/vmware/
tar cvf sata_ahc.tar etc usr
vmtar -c sata_ahc.tar -o sata_ahc.vgz 
mv sata_ahc.vgz /bootbank/sata_ahc.v00

Reboot ESXi and have fun with your 5th Gen NUC running ESXi 5.5


Additional Note: I’ve also tried to install ESXi 6.0 RC to the NUC. It was not required to create a custom ISO. The network card was detected during installation with the ISO provided by VMware. The AHCI workaround was still required. Please note that this was tested with beta software and might change when 6.0 is GA

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