First look at VMware ESXi 5.5 Update 1, with added drivers for Realtek NIC, ASMedia SATA ports, and LSI RAID

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 16 2014 in
  • ESXi
  • Network
  • Storage
  • Welcome to the very first weekend after the Tuesday March 11 2014 arrival of ESXi 5.5 Update 1! Given the number of folks likely to be tinkering with their own home labs right now, felt it might be a good idea to share my own preliminary experiences. If you've been here before, you'll know about my vZilla build, still going strong since 2011, and still serving my home server and self-training needs quite nicely. See also Superguide: Home virtualization server enthusiasts’ colorful variety of ESXi whiteboxes, published here onTinkerTry January 5, 2014.

    For my situation, the questions on the table are really about whether 3 key pieces continue to work for me, after a fresh install of ESXi 5.5 Update 1. Those pieces are:

    1. Realtek 8111E support, using this VIB (right-click, Save As)
    2. ASmedia SATA3 port support, using this VIB (right-click, Save As)
    3. LSI 9265-8i RAID driver, using this VIB (My VMware login required) (just to see if a different driver worked better)

    I merely grabbed the above 3 VIBs and injected them into my ISO (VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.5.0.update01-1623387.x86_64.iso), then used Rufus to change that ISO into the bootable install flash drive that became the installed ESXi 5.5U1 boot drive.

    Good news, got the first two working very easily. Realtek networking, and SSDs on those motherboard based ASM1062 SATA3 ports working just fine, right away during my first log in and look around, seen in the video below. C'mon, two out of three ain't bad! I admittedly was going out on a limb a bit on the third item, trying out the the known-to-be problematic VMware provided MegaRAID driver, instead of the LSI provided January 2014 MegaRAID SMIS Provider for 5.5, that I had found to work with the original 5.5 release (from Sep 2014), and will likely work again with 5.5 Update 1.

    As soon as I get a chance, hopefully later this afternoon, I'll try a new step 3:

    3) LSI 9265-8i RAID health monitoring support, using this zip that has the SMIS Provider VIB inside

    and will post the results here, below this same article.

    Meanwhile, I realize there may be numerous questions that pop up. Please keep in mind that I cannot reply to individual emails. But "open to all" comments dropped below (no login required) are a great way to go, helping us all help each other. Also keep in mind that in he coming weeks, most of the sorts of questions likely to come up will also likely be covered by future articles.

    Next step, "rehearsing" the install/configure steps for the latest VMware vCenter Server Appliance build 1624811. In the end folks, you'll probably be following a step by step recipe that looks very much like the one I've drafted for the 5.5 release, seen at:

    It's a read-only sneak peek at my (admittedly DRAFT) Google Docs Spreadsheet, and changes I make will be seen immediately. Eventually, it'll be published as part of the new and improved and streamlined version of Build your own VMware vSphere 5.5 Datacenter with ESXi and VCSA from Sep 30 2013.

    Mar 16 2014 08:18pm eastern Update:

    Yes, booting off the custom ISO with the new step 3 looking good so far, SSDs attached via ASMedia SATA3 ports visible, RAID5 array on LSI 9265-8i also visible:


    Mar 16 2014 11:31pm eastern Update:

    Well, tried several versions of LSI drivers, no luck seeing RAID health yet. Same drivers from LSI are also available at Intel here. Once you download, and expand it, you'll realize it's the exact same VIB file that you get from LSI:

    By the way, folks that haven't seen the comprehensive guide by Intel yet, check this out:

    VMware ESXi 5.0 Installation and RWC2 Tips and Tricks Rev 1.0, Mar 2012.

    See also:

    Download ESXi 5.5 Update 1 and the other vSphere pieces to get your home lab started TinkerTry, Mar 12 2014.

    Install ESXi 5.5 with Realtek 8111/8168 NIC