Will ESXi 7.0 Update 1 run on Intel NUC?

VMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 Update 1 is here. If you have Intel NUCs in your homelab you should always be very careful when updating to new ESXi releases as there might be issues. Please always keep in mind that this is not an officially supported platform.

Typically, you see problems with new major releases (eg. the Realtek problem in ESXi 7.0) but this time we seem to run into a problem with 8th Gen NUCs in the 7.0 U1 release. The Intel I219-V (6) network adapter fails to load after upgrading to ESXi 7.0 U1. When you try to do a fresh installation, it fails with the well known "No Network Adapters" error.

To be on the safe side, I'm doing a quick checkup on which NUCs are safe to update and where you have to implement a workaround.

In the meantime: Stay Calm, you can run ESXi 7.0 U1 on the 8th Gen NUC!

Good news first. ESXi 7.0 U1 comes with a driver that has out-of-the-box support for the 10th Gen NUC. That means that you no longer have to create a custom image with the Community driver to run ESXi 7.0 on the 10th Gen NUC. The bad news is that the Intel I219-V (6) network adapter, used in the 8th Gen NUC (Only the Bean Canyon is affected), does not work in ESXi 7.0 U1. All other NUCs are not affected.

For reference, these are the two drivers we are talking about:

ne1000 0.8.4-10vmw.700.1.0.15843807 <- ESXi 7.0 GA
ne1000 0.8.4-11vmw.701.0.0.16850804 <- ESXi 7.0 Update 1

Upgrade Consideration

Before you start the upgrade, check that the following issues do not affect your environment:

  • The USB Nic Fling does not work with 7.0U1 yet. Remove it and reboot your ESXi Host, prior to installing the upgrade.
    # esxcli software vib remove -n vmkusb-nic-fling
  • If you plan to add an "ESXi on ARM" (eg. Raspberry Pi) to the vCenter 7.0 U1, check this workaround.
  • If you are using vSphere with Kubernetes, be aware that upgrading to vCenter 7.0 U1 will trigger a 60-day Evaluation for the Namespace Management (similar to vSAN Cluster Licenses).

ESXi 7.0 Update 1 on 10th Gen (Frost Canyon) NUC

  • NUC10i7FNH/NUC10i7FNK (Intel Core i7-10710U - 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC10i5FNH/NUC10i5FNK (Intel Core i5-10210U - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC10i3FNH/NUC10i3FNK (Intel Core i3-10110U - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

If you want to do a fresh install of ESXi 7.0 U1 on the 10th Gen NUC, just use the stock image provided by VMware. The community driver is no longer required.

If you want to upgrade from ESXi 7.0 with the latest community package, follow the following steps:

  1. Install the Patch and reboot
    # esxcli network firewall set --enabled false
    # esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-7.0.1-16850804-standard -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
    # esxcli network firewall set --enabled true
  2. Reboot the system
  3. Remove the old VIB
    esxcli software vib remove -n ne1000-intelnuc
  4. Done

Note: If you are using the community driver with the old name (not the latest, which has been renamed to  ne1000-intel) you can skip Step 2. Just perform the upgrade and reboot.

ESXi 7.0 Update 1 on 8th Gen (Bean Canyon) NUC

  • NUC8i7BEH/NUC8i7BEK (Intel Core i7-8559U - 4 Core, up to 4.5 GHz)
  • NUC8i5BEH/NUC8i5BEK (Intel Core i5-8259U - 4 Core, up to 3.8 GHz)
  • NUC8i3BEH/NUC8i3BEK (Intel Core i3-8109U - 2 Core, up to 3.6 GHz)

New Installation
If you want to do a fresh install of ESXi 7.0 U1 on the Bean Canyon, you have to create a custom image, including the old driver 0.8.4-10vmw.700.1.0.15843807.

When using PowerShell, use the following commands to remove the ne1000 from the Image Profil, and add the old version. To do so, just append the version when adding the Software Package to the Image Profile.

Remove-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile $newProfile -SoftwarePackage "ne1000"
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile $newProfile -SoftwarePackage "ne1000 0.8.4-10vmw.700.1.0.15843807"

Here is a working example that creates an ESXi 7.0 U1 Image with the required ne1000 driver:

$baseProfile = "ESXi-7.0.1-16850804-standard"   # See https://www.virten.net/vmware/vmware-esxi-image-profiles/ for available Image Profiles
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
$newProfile = New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile $baseProfile -name $($baseProfile.Replace("standard", "nuc")) -Vendor "virten.net"
Remove-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile $newProfile -SoftwarePackage "ne1000"
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile $newProfile -SoftwarePackage "ne1000 0.8.4-10vmw.700.1.0.15843807"
Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile $newProfile -ExportToBundle -filepath "$($baseProfile.Replace("standard", "nuc")).zip"
Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile $newProfile -ExportToIso -filepath "$($baseProfile.Replace("standard", "nuc")).iso"

Note: If you get the "WinError 10054" message when exporting as ISO, just remove the online depot and try again. It should work, as the image is still cached:

Remove-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile $newProfile -ExportToIso -filepath "$($baseProfile.Replace("standard", "nuc")).iso"

You can use the ESXi-7.0.1-16850804-nuc.iso image to install ESXi 7.0 U1 on your 8th Gen NUC. You can also use the .zip bundle to upgrade using esxcli.

Upgrade from ESXi 7.0
If you already have ESXi 7.0 installed, the quickest way to upgrade is by using VMwares online repository. Alternatively, if your ESXi has no Internet access, for example, you can also use the .zip bundle mentioned above. 

Follow the following steps to upgrade ESXi 7.0 to 7.0U1 on your Bean Canyon NUC:

  1. Put the host into maintenance mode
  2. Install the patch, but do not reboot yet
    # esxcli network firewall set --enabled false
    # esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-7.0.1-16850804-standard -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
    # esxcli network firewall set --enabled true
  3. Install the old ne1000 driver
    # esxcli software vib install -n ne1000:0.8.4-10vmw.700.1.0.15843807 -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
  4. Reboot
  5. Your system should now reboot and come up with ESXi 7.0 U1. If any issues happen during the reboot, ESXi will automatically perform a rollback. Make sure to check the version after the reboot.

 

ESXi 7.0 Update 1 on any other Intel NUC

Any other NUC can be upgraded without issues.

  1. Install the Patch and reboot
    # esxcli network firewall set --enabled false
    # esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-7.0.1-16850804-standard -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
    # esxcli network firewall set --enabled true
  2. Done
  1. Greetings, when I upgrade my 4 Quad Network Adapter so working as it was not on the HCL. It sucks but I was able to use onboard NIC to keep environment running. I have HP DL360 G8 Servers running in my lab.

  2. Thanks for this, updated on my 10th gen NUC!

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