Add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO using Windows

Why do you need to add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO?

VMware ESXi 5.5 was recently released, unfortunately ESXi 5.5 removed a lot of drivers for previously supported hardware. The drivers for the hardware that were removed still work fine on ESXi 5.5, you will just need to add the drivers for your hardware to the ISO before installing.

A lot of methods exist for adding ISO’s on Linux, however for Windows users a tool called ESXi Customizer appears to be the easiest way to add drivers to an VMware ESXi ISO. ESXi Customizer is a user-friendly windows application that automates the process of customizing the ESXi ISO with drivers that are not originally included with ESXi.

Download: ESXi Customizer 2.7.1
Visit: ESXi-Customizer homepage

Using ESXi Customizer to add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO:

When you have loaded ESXi Customizer it’s a simple case of selecting the source ISO, this been your ESXi install iso. Next you can select the drivers you wish to include in the iso, usually distributed as a VIB file. Finally you must select an NTFS formatted working directory, this will also be where your customised ISO will be saved.

In the example below i am customing the ESXi 5.5 iso and adding the Realtek R8168 ethernet driver which my ESXi build requires. If you built an ESXi server based on my VMware ESXI Low Power Home Server, this is the only driver you need to add. Download the Realtek R8168 Driver.

Add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO using Windows

ESXi Customizer makes it a very simple process to add the Realtek R8168 driver back to the ISO, presuming all goes well you will be informed your custom ISO has been created and is in the working directory you specified as can be seen below.

Drivers added to an VMware ESXI ISO on Windows

That’s it, a simple but effective way to add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO using Windows, you can now install or upgrade ESXi as normal.

Now you have your ISO, why not Create a VMware ESXi Bootable Flash Drive so you can install ESXi without an optical drive, or even burning a disc?

Matt Hill

Matt Hill is in his mid 20′s and has a passion for technology. Matt studied Computer and Network Administration at University and currently works as an IT Administrator for a company based in his home town.

13 Comments

  1. IslamZorina   •  

    Thank You Matt, I’m very pleased to you
    please I’ve a question
    i want to do so with my NIC : Atheros AR8162 driver , where can i find it’s driver to be able to add it in the esxi iso file
    please can you help me, cause i don’t have a good experience with linux

    • Matt Hill   •     Author

      I don’t think you will have any luck getting the Atheros AR8162 working, i could not find anything that said it was compatible with ESXI. Or any drivers anywhere to download for it.
      The reason i could do it with my Realtek R8168 is that previous versions of ESXI had drivers for that network card, i simply re added them back to the ISO.

  2. Enrique D   •  

    Thanks Matt,

    I’ve been looking for this vib driver file. Thank you very much! Much Appreciated!!!!

  3. Mike Davis   •  

    I had a desktop computer being used in a lab that installed ESXi 5.1, but the NIC wouldn’t work with DHCP or a static address. I downloaded ESXi 5.5 and the Realtek driver and it worked. Thanks for the help.

  4. Nick   •  

    Thank you, it works with my atheros ar8161 driver!!!

    • John   •  

      Hi Nick,
      I tried to integrate the Realtek driver with the ISO image but it is still not able to detect my NIC!

      Can you provide more details about how did you make your Atheros AR8161 Ethernet Network Card work?
      Are you using ESXi 5.5 Update 1 ?

  5. ryan   •  

    The customized ISO would be licensed by the free ESXi key?

    • Matt Hill   •     Author

      Yes, or you can purchase a key. It really doesn’t change anything to do with licencing.

  6. srijitb   •  

    Can u please provide suitable vib file for ASUS M4A78-EM/1394 LAN Driver (Atheros L1E Gigabit Ethernet)

    Thanks.

  7. Rostini   •  

    Hi Matt,

    Tahnks for your post, I have a problem with the installation of ESX 6.0 on my ASUS server. After documentation, I must add to my ESXi some drivers to make it work but I do not know where and how to have its drivers.

    Please, i need your help !

    • Matt Hill   •     Author

      You need to find out what motherboard is in your server, from what you can identify what nic or sata / raid controllers you need to find drivers for. Chances are if you Google you will find someone has wrote instructions on how to get ESXi working on the motherboard you have.

  8. Nabeel Abbas   •  

    Please provide me VIB file of TP-LINK3269 network adapter. I have installed it as an external network adapter and it is not show in EXSI Network settings. i want to bind its drivers with EXSI Image. Thanks

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