Why do you need to add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO?
VMware ESXi 5.5 was recently released, unfortunately ESXi 5.5 removed a lot of drivers for previously supported hardware. The drivers for the hardware that were removed still work fine on ESXi 5.5, you will just need to add the drivers for your hardware to the ISO before installing.
A lot of methods exist for adding ISO’s on Linux, however for Windows users a tool called ESXi Customizer appears to be the easiest way to add drivers to an VMware ESXi ISO. ESXi Customizer is a user-friendly windows application that automates the process of customizing the ESXi ISO with drivers that are not originally included with ESXi.
Using ESXi Customizer to add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO:
When you have loaded ESXi Customizer it’s a simple case of selecting the source ISO, this been your ESXi install iso. Next you can select the drivers you wish to include in the iso, usually distributed as a VIB file. Finally you must select an NTFS formatted working directory, this will also be where your customised ISO will be saved.
In the example below i am customing the ESXi 5.5 iso and adding the Realtek R8168 ethernet driver which my ESXi build requires. If you built an ESXi server based on my VMware ESXI Low Power Home Server, this is the only driver you need to add. Download the Realtek R8168 Driver.
ESXi Customizer makes it a very simple process to add the Realtek R8168 driver back to the ISO, presuming all goes well you will be informed your custom ISO has been created and is in the working directory you specified as can be seen below.
That’s it, a simple but effective way to add drivers to a VMware ESXi ISO using Windows, you can now install or upgrade ESXi as normal.
Now you have your ISO, why not Create a VMware ESXi Bootable Flash Drive so you can install ESXi without an optical drive, or even burning a disc?