Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2)

With VMware vSphere 6.5 released recently, I decided to rebuild my Intel NUC based homelab. My preferred method is to create a bootable USB drive with the ESXi install media on it. Then install from the ESXi USB to the dedicated NUC’s boot USB. This method avoids non-unique ESXi installs, which is a common issue with the VMware Workstation pre-install method.

Prerequisites

In order to create our Intel NUC specific ESXi install media, we need to gather the necessary files. Make sure to grab the newest versions of the following:

  • vSphere ESXi 6.5 Offline Bundle
    • This is a collection of all the components and packages that make up ESXi. You need the Offline Bundle, not the ISO, for this exercise.
  • SATA AHCI driver
    • This driver is for the Intel NUC SATA controller. Even if your NUC doesn’t have a SATA disk or even the controller, it doesn’t hurt to add this driver.
  • USB 3.0 Ethernet driver from William Lam
    • Add more NICs to your NUC via USB 3.0. Like the storage driver, if you don’t have a USB 3 ethernet adapter, it doesn’t hurt to add this driver.
  • ESXi-Customizer-PS PowerShell script from Andreas Peets
    • This script will do all the heavy lifting, combining the offline bundle and driver VIBs into an ISO for us.

Create ISO

First, let’s create a project directory for our files. Let’s call it C:\esxi-nuc .

Copy the ESXi 6.5 offline bundle ZIP file (ex. VMware-ESXi-6.5.0-4564106-depot.zip ) and the ESXi-Customizer-PS script (ex. ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.4.ps1 ) to this directory.

Create a sub-directory under our project directory to hold our VIBs. Let’s get creative and call it C:\esxi-nuc\vibs .

Copy the SATA AHCI driver VIB (ex. sata-xahci-1.38-1.x86_64.vib ) and the USB 3.0 Ethernet driver VIB (ex. vghetto-ax88179-esxi65.vib ) to this sub-directory.

If you’ve copied all the files to their respective folders properly, it should look something like this:

Now we have to run the ESXi-Customizer-PS script to pull everything together and generate an ISO file. So fire up PowerShell, navigate to our project directory which is “C:\esxi-nuc” in our example, and run the following command:

Make sure to use the version numbers that match your downloaded files. Also, don’t forget the “-nsc” flag, as that will let us ignore the unsigned driver VIBs and continue.

If everything went as planned, you should now have a new ISO file in the project directory that is an ESXi 6.5 and VIBs combination.

Next Steps

Now that we have our customized ISO, we need to turn it into a bootable USB and then install it on our NUCs. We’ll do just that in part two.

Featured image photo by JeepersMedia

Dee Abson

Dee Abson is a technical architect from Alberta, Canada. He's been working in the field of technology for over 20 years and specializes in server and virtualization infrastructure. Working with VMware products since ESX 2, he holds several VMware certifications. He was awarded VMware vExpert for 2014-2017. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.

19 Responses

  1. deeabson@twitter.com' @deeabson says:

    New Post: Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) https://t.co/Teu2jlW9Gb #homelab #howto #vdm30in30

  2. Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) https://t.co/4Aa6x5zpxb #General #HomeLab

  3. Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) – T.B.D. https://t.co/OiWay3lTBV https://t.co/VDC6ws8mWi

  4. deeabson@twitter.com' @deeabson says:

    ICYMI: Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) https://t.co/n2LrXgy1tC #homelab #howto #vdm30in30

  5. JimStreit@twitter.com' @JimStreit says:

    Everyone loves running the latest in their homelab … Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2)… https://t.co/zvM6letfk2

  6. deeabson@twitter.com' @deeabson says:

    ICYMI: Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) https://t.co/vwN5ktzs5G #homelab #howto #vdm30in30 #ICYMI

  7. rcpyksl@twitter.com' @rcpyksl says:

    Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) – T.B.D. https://t.co/XQuxJN4oif https://t.co/Mv0FCl5G0H

  8. Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) – T.B.D. https://t.co/xo3njAHLCG https://t.co/MFHoZwinis

  9. regamoks@hotmail.com' Lars says:

    I downloaded the trial version of Esxi 6.5 – but only the .iso version is available 🙁
    Can i get offline bundle ZIP file and the ESXi-Customizer-PS script “out” of the iso?

    • Dee Abson says:

      The ESXi-Customizer script can create an offline bundle for you from the online depot.

      This example will create an offline bundle of ESXi 6.5 (note that the latest version of the script is cited, which was updated to fully support vSphere 6.5):
      .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-2.5.ps1 -v65 -ozip

  10. gmessemer@gmail.com' Greg says:

    I got an error:
    File C:\esxi-nuc\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.5.ps1 cannot be loaded. A required certificate is not within its validity period when verifying against the current system clock or the timestamp in the signed file.

  11. gmessemer@gmail.com' Greg says:

    OK. I deleted the signature lines, line 476 to the end, saved it, and the script ran fine.

  1. November 21, 2016

    […] the first post, we created an ISO image of VMware ESXi 6.5 to install on our Intel NUC. Now we turn that ISO into […]

  2. December 8, 2016

    […] Server Appliance) (ESX Virtualization) Installing VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 (Mike Tabor) Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 1/2) (T.B.D.) Install VMware ESXi 6.5 on Intel NUC (Part 2/2) (T.B.D.) HOWTO: Deploy a vSphere 6.5 […]

  3. May 14, 2017

    […] need a few prerequisites before I can create our install media. I used the info from Dee Abson’s blog as a guide since he currently uses the same NUC (D54250WYK/H) […]

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