For ESXi 6.0, those ESXi 5.1 VIBs for ASMedia SATA ports and Realtek NICs still seem to be working (but unsupported)

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 4 2015 (updated on Jan 13 2016) in
  • ESXi
  • HomeLab
  • HomeServer
  • Network
  • Virtualization
  • Mar 16 2015 Update - walk-through video of the VIB driver install procedure, now added below!

    Today's tip is a sneak peek at what'll probably happen once vSphere 6 finally arrives. Four simple lines of code, and a few minutes to reboot, are all it's likely to take to get your ASMedia (ASM1061 chipset) AHCI SATA drives visible again. And those Realtek NICs. That's a relief, ain't it?

    Worked nicely for my vZilla's motherboard for example, pictured above, with both an ASMedia drive controller chipset, and a Realtek 8111E gigabit controller chipset.

    You may want to keep a careful eye on VMware Front Experience, where Andreas Peetz has quite the track record, and an online depot for ESXi software.

    If you found the move from 5.1 to 5.5 a little rough, with some of your hard drive datastores disappearing after a fresh 5.5 install, you likely found:

    How to make your unsupported SATA AHCI Controller work with ESXi 5.5

    by Andreas Peetz, Nov 04 2013

    Similarly, if you found yourself left out in the cold as far as getting your motherboard's Realtek NICs working, you also likely found:

    How to make your unsupported NIC work with ESXi 5.x

    by Andreas Peetz, Dec 02, 2014

    Adding Realtek R8168 Driver to ESXi 5.5.0 ISO

    by Erik Bussink, Sep 23 2013

    So it's a good bet that Andreas will be blogging about the exact details on getting your vSphere 6.0 going with those extremely common consumer motherboard devices out there, and I'll be supplementing that material by implementing those fixes go in my home lab, likely recording video as I go.

    To re-cap, it's highly likely your results will be similar to whatever experience you had back on 5.5, when you had to re-add those 5.1 based VIBs manually. That is, these Realtek VIBs might just work on ESXi 6.0, or just kinda-sorta work, or not work at all, same goes for 5.5. Depends on your exact motherboard makers implementation it would seem. Perhaps reasons contributing to VMware dropping the Realtek VIBs from their ESXi builds lately. See also this 5.1 thread, and others struggling with PSODs.


    For me, my Realtek 8111E actually works pretty well with the old VIB, which I tested on video here. But I admit that I also added an Intel I350T2 NIC to gain 2 more ports. I do find it handy to have a VMware-supported NIC (like the I350 series) for the initial installation, without having to inject VIBs into the ESXi install media to get past the pesky "No network adapters found" message.

    Here's the list of NICs this VIB bundle download method below should handle, listed by Andreas here:

    net-r8168: Realtek 8168 Gigabit Ethernet (10ec:8168)
    net-r8169: Realtek RTL-8110SC/8169SC Gigabit Ethernet (10ec:8167), Realtek RTL8169 PCI Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10ec:8169)
    net-sky2: Marvell 88E8040 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller (11ab:4354), Marvell 88E8053 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (11ab:4362)

    If you are trying to get ESXi 5.5 or 6.0 going without a supported NIC, stay tuned, new ways of doing that properly are likely to get documented at Andreas' site as well. Meanwhile, there's still the old-school (soon to be deprecated) method I documented here, but haven't re-tested lately.

    Alright, enough teasing. All of Andreas super simple infrastructure (server and scripts) are working well on several test runs, with multiple 6.0 builds.


    This method does require the ESXi host have internet access.


    After ESXi 6.0 was installed, to get my ASMedia connected drives and my Realtek NIC visible, I simply shut down all my VMs (I don't currently have a 2nd host to vMotion to), then I:

    1. put the ESXi host into maintenance mode (optional but recommended, or you can just shut down all your VMs)
    2. enable SSH
    3. PuTTY'd in
    4. pasted these 4 lines (that I constructed based on Andreas' various articles) into the PuTTY SSH session, one at a time, which makes it easier to see what's happening
      (the results of each should look like the PuTTY screenshot a little further down below)
      esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported
      esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
      esxcli software vib install -n net51-drivers -d
      esxcli software vib install -d -n sata-xahci
    5. then rebooted my ESXi host (server)

    Tada, all my drives were back, all my NICs were back, all the fun could then begin. Thank you Andreas, for all that you do, for the home lab virtualization enthusiast community!

    Consider this a preview, beta, dry-run, whatever you want to call it. The procedure may change slightly, based on what happens after GA, we'll see, together. And please leave your comments and feedback below, they're appreciated, and responded to.

    Just a polite reminder, there is no warranty, guarantee, or support, but hey, home lab virtualization enthusiasts are kind of used to that. It's your responsibility to be sure you're backing up them VMs, because there are a lot of options out there, starting at zero.


    Here's a walk-through video of the simple procedure

    Jan 13 2016 Update

    Viewer mail! Got this feedback from a site visitor that others may find very helpful:

    From: Paul Adams []
    Sent: Monday, January 11, 2016 10:06 AM
    To: paul.braren[REDACTED]
    Subject: [TinkerTry Contact] installing GA 970-ds3p and d3p lan drivers on ESXi 6

    Firstname Lastname Paul Adams
    Email Address REDACTED

    Subject installing GA 970-ds3p and d3p lan drivers on ESXi 6
    Message Hi
    Like your site, I decided to follow your build an awesome home lab article but ran into problems trying to install the R8168 VIB from 1. a custom ISO and 2 a local source.

    After digging around Google and making no headway I decided to try and get the syntax correct. the answer was so simple - just point it at the zip bundle. so I did the following

    Your instructions in a nutshell:-
    Install ESXi 6

    set IPV4 parameters - IP, mask, gateway, hostname, dns

    connected from vSphere client

    put in Maintenance mode

    enabled ssh and ESXi shell services

    added vib folder to datastore1

    uploaded required offline bundle

    made a Putty SSH connection to server

    Executed the following two commands:-

    esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported

    esxcli software vib install -d /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/VIB/

    My change is no device name and full file path

    Installation Result
    Message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective.
    Reboot Required: true
    VIBs Installed: Realtek_bootbank_net55-r8168_8.039.01-napi
    VIBs Removed:
    VIBs Skipped:

    may be of help to others

    kind regards
    Paul Adams
    Website (optional)

    The message has been sent from REDACTED (United Kingdom) at 2016-01-11 10:06:11 on Internet Explorer 11.0
    Entry ID: 98
    Powered by 123ContactForm

    From: Paul Braren [mailto:REDACTED]
    Sent: 11 January 2016 16:32
    To: 'Paul Adams'
    Subject: RE: [TinkerTry Contact] installing GA 970-ds3p and d3p lan drivers on ESXi 6

    Permission to feature your words below, pasted right into a Realtek related TinkerTry post, with your full name?
    If you’d prefer, I could just say Paul A. from UK, or something along those lines.

    From: Paul Adams [mailto:REDACTED]
    Sent: Monday, January 11, 2016 1:58 PM
    To: 'Paul Braren'
    Subject: RE: [TinkerTry Contact] installing GA 970-ds3p and d3p lan drivers on ESXi 6

    Hi Paul

    No problem if it can help others – use my full name if you like and Warrington, uk

    Kind regards
    Paul Adams

    See also at TinkerTry

    TinkerTry's 31 Days of March 2015 - One vSphere 6.0 related tip published every day, until it's GA!
    Mar 01 2015

    Install ESXi 5.5 with Realtek 8111/8168 NIC
    Sep 24 2013

    Intel Ethernet Server Adapter I350T2 Dual port, for ESXi 5.5 home lab
    Sep 24 2013

    TP-LINK Gigabit PCI Express Network Adapter TG-3468, for ESXi 5.5 home lab
    Sep 24 2013

    Superguide: Home virtualization lab backup software, some special deals for VMware VCPs and vExperts
    Nov 26 2014

    Use ESXi-Customizer GUI to inject multiple driver VIBs into your ESXi installer ISO
    Dec 16 2013 (a method that's getting deprecated)

    See also

    Understanding Acceptance Levels for VIBS and Hosts
    VMware vSphere 5.5 Documentation Center