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Solution: ESXi Installation with USB NIC only fails at 81%

When you try to install ESXi 7.0 with a USB NIC only, the installation fails at 81% with the following error message:

Exception: No vmknic tagged for management was found.

Some homelab systems like the Intel 10th Gen NUC are not equipped with a compatible network adapter. As a workaround, you can use a USB NIC and create a customized image to install ESXi. The installation fails as the ESXi installer can't assign the USB NIC as a management adapter because it specifically searches for a "vmnic#", not "vusb#" adapter.

This article explains how to proceed with the 81% installation error and get the system to work.

  1. If not already, create a Customized Image as explained here.
  2. Start the installation and wait until it fails at 81%
  3. At this point, ESXi is already installed, but not configured.
  4. Remove the installation media and reboot the system
  5. When ESXi is loaded, press F2 and login as "root" without password. (The password entered during the installation has not been saved because the configuration failed)
  6. You should notice that all Network Options are greyed out. Select Network Restore Options.
  7. Select Restore Network Settings
  8. Log out
  9. Log back in
  10. Network options are no longer greyed out and the vusb0 adapter has been detected


12 thoughts on “Solution: ESXi Installation with USB NIC only fails at 81%”

  1. Thanks for this, been trying to get an old server installed with ESX 7 and it would not detect the onboard NIC or USB nics.

  2. Holy cow! I was about to delve into how to create a custom ESXI iso with all that powercli etc, you saved me hours my dude! Thank you!

  3. When the Esxi reboot, I always have to go to the Console and reactivate the network card ( last picture in 10.) Someone have a solution?

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