Saturday, 11 August 2012

Create your own custom ESXi Image using ESXi Customizer




 Create your own custom ESXi Image using ESXi Customizer




This tutorial will walk you through the process of creating your very own custom ESXi ISO.
I recently wanted to use my 2 HP Compaq 8200 Elite Small Form Factor PCs for installing ESXi 5 on them. I burned the standard ESXi 5 ISO image from VMware on a USB and booted the PC using it. 

The installer did start up, however after running through few steps, it threw the following error:

No network adapters were detected


NOTE: In case you used ESXi 4.1 on this same physical PC, then you would have been thrown an error: 

vmkctl.HostCtlException Unable to load module /usr/lib/vmware/vkmod/vmfs3: Failure



The specifications of the HP PC is:

  • Processors: Intel® Core™ i5-2500 (3.30 GHz, 6 MB cache, 4 cores)
  • Processor technology: Intel® Core™ i5 with vPro technology Chipset Intel® Q67 Express
  • Form factor: Small Form Factor
  • Memory: standard 4 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • Memory slots: 4 DIMM
  • Network interface: Integrated Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet

In both the cases, this error is thrown when the NIC card (in my case, the NIC card is
Integrated Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
) is not compatible with VMware.

You can check whether your hardware is certified to run with VMware HERE.

The solution to this is kind of simple one. All you need to do is download the specific driver/ or in some cases you will have to make your own, bundle it with ESXi ISO using a tool called Image Builder and then use it for installing the hypervisor on your machine.

What I did was use a really cool tool called ESXi-Customizer to create my custom ESXi. However the real stuff was the driver!! It was already created.. all I had to do was download both, add the ESXi ISO file and voila.. DONE !!
 
ESXi-Customizer is a user-friendly script that automates the process of customizing the ESXi install-ISO with drivers that are not originally included. Unlike other scripts and manuals that are available for this purpose ESXi-Customizer runs entirely on Windows and does not require any knowledge of or access to Linux.

Here are the steps:

  1. Download ESXi-Customizer (create by Andreas Peetz) found HERE.
  2. Download the driver (created by Chilly) found HERE.
  3. Start the ESXi-Customizer and follow the steps:

 A GUI will show up that lets you select the original VMware install-ISO, the customization file and a working directory for the script

  • For TGZ files you can choose a repacking option: The default is Force repacking, because this is how older versions behaved, other choices are Do not touch and Force repacking and pause for advanced editing. Hover your mouse over these options to get tooltips displayed with information on their purposes.
  • If you select the "Create (U)EFI-bootable ISO" option the script will create an ISO file that is also bootable on modern (U)EFI-BIOS boards.
  • NOTE : ISO files created with this option cannot be further customized with ESXi-Customizer, because the current version of 7-zip is unable to extract such ISO files again.
  • Please use the "update check" feature if possible to be informed about updates of this script.
  • Press the "Run!" -button to start the customization process.


The script will auto-detect the ESXi version.
 
If you try to customize an ESXi 4.1 media and you do not have administrative privileges or have UAC (User account control) enabled in Windows you will be prompted to allow the script to run with administrative access. 

Enter the credentials of an administrative user if needed and select Yes to continue.
 

The customized ISO file that is produced by the script will be stored in the working directory, together with a detailed log file (that is necessary for troubleshooting in case something goes wrong).



Once done, boot the Server with the new ISO
You will see a customized Boot Menu as shown below:


Follow the standard installation process. Once done, your Server will be ready for use !!






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