Jan 14, 2011

How To Install Additional Drivers in VMware ESXi

Yesterday I ran into an issue I hadn’t before in VMware. I was setting up a new ESXi server to add to a cluster. Like all the other hosts in the cluster, I ordered it two PCI-Express 4-port NIC’s for use as redundant iSCSI and Virtual switch connections. The only problem is that this time I used a different model than before. The other hosts in the cluster had been around for a while, and I wasn’t the one who ordered them expansion NICs. I figured I would just get some HP branded ones, and we should be good because the servers are HP servers.

I thought wrong. When I installed ESXi it didn’t automatically detect the NICs. Every other time I installed ESXi it did. Like any other computer operating system though, the NICs won’t be detected if the proper driver wasn’t installed.

the NICs I bought were HP NC365T 4 Port Gb network adapters. In order to get them to be detected on ESXi, I first had to do a search to see if they were supported. I went to The VMware compatibility guide and did a search in the I/O adapters section for NC365T. There I saw at the bottom that there were two available drivers. I went ahead to the driver download page, and searched for one of those driver numbers. From there I downloaded the ISO with the correct drivers.

Now, I read on the VMguru blog that you can burn the drivers ISO on a CD pop the CD into the server, then run the following command from vCLI:

vihostupdate.pl –server [IP address] –username root –install –bundle [CD/DVD]:\offline-bundle\DRIVER-NAME.zip

For some reason, that command didn’t work for me. It kept erroring out for one reason or another. So what I ended up doing since I always enable SSH on my ESXi boxes was to extract the contents of the ISO file using 7Zip, then renaming the zip file in \offline-bundle to driver.zip (For ease of terminal commands), then I copied driver.zip to the /tmp directory on my ESXi server using WINSCP in SCP mode. I then placed the server in maintenance mode from the viConsole. After that I SSH’d in using Putty, changed into the /tmp directory and ran the following command:

esxupdate --bundle=driver.zip update


After that I rebooted, and like magic my NICs were discovered by ESXi!


Have you ever had to do this in your environment? Can you tell me why my vCLI command might not have worked right? Let us know in the comments.

NOTE: If you have the HP NC365T 4 Port Gb network adapter like me, I recommend using the 2.4.10 driver. I tried the driver, and it cause the ESXi operating system to freeze. Just a suggestion ;-)

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