How to Install or Upgrade ESXi 7.0b on 10th Gen Intel NUC

To get ESXi installed on a 10th Gen Intel NUC you need a customized image at the moment. How to create the custom image is explained here. The problem is that the ne1000 driver, which is bundled in ESXi 7.0, is not compatible with the NUCs Gigabit Network interface. When you now try to install the latest ESXi patch, the driver is overwritten with the non-working default ne1000 driver.

The solution is quite simple. You can either install the working driver again after patching or create a custom ESXi 7.0b image. The method described here is specific for ESXi 7.0b but might also work for future releases, as long as ESXi 7 is not equipped with a ne1000 driver supporting Intels latest I219-V.

Method 1 - Just reinstall the working driver
When you install patches using esxcli, this is the preferred method. I'm assuming that your are running ESXi 7.0 GA with the ne1000 as explained here. The patch will remove the custom ne1000 driver, but you can simply reinstall it. Just don't reboot between the installation of patch and driver (Step 3  and 4).

  1. Enable Firewall to allow HTTP traffic
    # esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
  2. Download the working ne1000 driver
    # cd /tmp/
    # wget https://download3.vmware.com/software/vmw-tools/ESXi670-NE1000-32543355-offline_bundle-15486963.zip
  3. Install ESXi 7.0b from VMware's Online Repository
    # esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-7.0b-16324942-standard -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
  4. Install the working ne1000 driver
    # esxcli software vib install -d /tmp/ESXi670-NE1000-32543355-offline_bundle-15486963.zip
  5. Verify that the ESXi rebooting Images uses ne1000 version 0.8.4-3vmw.670.3.99.32543355
    [root@esx14:~] esxcli software vib list --rebooting-image |grep ne1000
    ne1000 0.8.4-3vmw.670.3.99.32543355 VMW VMwareCertified 2020-06-29
  6. Reboot ESXi

Method 2 - Create a Custom ESXi 7.0b Image/Bundle using PowerShell

  1. Download the driver (link)
  2. Copy the driver to your Build Directory (c:\esx) for example
  3. Open PowerShell run the following commands in your build directory:
    # (Optional) Install PowerCLI Module 
    Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI -Scope CurrentUser
    
    Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
    Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0b-16324942-standard" -ExportToBundle -filepath ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-standard.zip
    Remove-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
    Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-standard.zip
    Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\ESXi670-NE1000-32543355-offline_bundle-15486963.zip
    New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-7.0b-16324942-standard" -name "ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC" -Vendor "virten.net"
    Remove-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "ne1000"
    Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC" -SoftwarePackage "ne1000 0.8.4-3vmw.670.3.99.32543355"
    Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC" -ExportToIso -filepath ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC.iso
    Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC" -ExportToBundle -filepath ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC.zip
    
  4. Use the ISO file for a fresh ESXi installation, or copy the .zip File to your ESXi Host. Use the following command to upgrade your box:
    # esxcli software profile update -d /tmp/ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC.zip -p ESXi-7.0.0-16324942-NUC

 

  1. Step 3 fails for me:

    [root@HLESX01:/tmp] esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-7.0b-16324942-standar
    d -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.
    xml
    [HardwareError]
    Hardware precheck of profile ESXi-7.0b-16324942-standard failed with errors:
    Please refer to the log file for more details.

    I think I will just recreate the .iso

    • Same issue. Going the new .iso / zip route. One of the things I find I have to do (maybe dangerous born of ignorance) is add -NoSignatureCheck to the ends of exports.

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