:::: MENU ::::

VMware Explore home lab hardware – Part 2

ESXi, EUC, powershell, vExpert, VMware, vSphere

VMware Explore home lab hardware – Part 2

In my previous post, I showed my struggles with installing ESXi on the NUC I got from Cohesity and the vExpert program. In this post, I will show you what I have been up to since then.

With a lot of help from the vExpert community, especially Daniël Zuthof and William Lam, I now have the missing pieces to complete the puzzle.

With the steps below I was able to install ESXi 8.x on my NUC.

Step 1: Install PowerShell & Python 3.7
Step 2: Install PowerCLI 13
Step 3: Download ESXi Offline bundle
Step 4: Download USB Driver fling
Step 5: Create the Customized ESXi 8 ISO image

Note: To create the custom ESXi ISO image I am using my MacBook Pro M1

Step 1: Install PowerShell & Python 3.7

To install PowerCLI on my MacBook I used an article by William Lam (link).

First, we need to install Rosetta to be able to run x86 binaries on my M1 MacBook. Open Terminal and use the following command.

softwareupdate --install-rosetta --agree-to-license

Then we will need to install Brew in order to install Python. This can be done with the following command.

arch --x86_64 /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"

Now we will be able to install Python with the Brew command.

arch --x86_64 /usr/local/bin/brew install python@3.7

As mentioned in my previous blog we will need to install the Python modules six, psutil, lxml, and pyopensll. This can be done with the command.

arch --x86_64 /usr/local/bin/pip3.7 install six psutil lxml pyopenssl

Now we will be able to install PowerShell via Brew with the command.

brew install --cask powershell

Step 2: Install PowerCLI 13

VMware PowerCLI can be used to manage and automate your VMware environment with the help of Powershell cmdlets and modules.

To install PowerCLI 13 we need to start Powershell with the command.

pwsh

Now we can install the PowerCLI module via the following command.

Install-Module VMware.PowerCLI

Configure the correct Python path so that PowerCLI knows where to find Python.

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -PythonPath /usr/local/bin/python3.7

At this point, PowerCLI is ready to use. A big thanks to William Lam for his well-explained post on How to install PowerCLI on an M1 MacBook.

Step 3: Download ESXi Off-line bundle

Go to the VMware Customer Connect portal and download the Offline bundle for ESXi 8 (link).

Step 4: Download USB Driver fling

Go to the VMware Fling website and download the correct version of the USB Network Native Driver for ESXi Fling (link).

Step 5: Create the Customized ESXi 8 ISO image

To create a custom ISO we will need to create a software specification file (JSON) first. Inside the JSON file the correct version of the base image, and components will be configured.

To get the versions use the following commands.

Get-DepotBaseImages -Depot ./Downloads/ESX/VMware-ESXi-8.0-20513097-depot.zip

Get-DepotComponents -Depot ./Downloads/ESX/ESXi800-VMKUSB-NIC-FLING-61054763-component-20826251.zip

From the output use the version numbers to create the JSON file.

{
    "base_image": {
        "version": "8.0.0-1.0.20513097"
    },
    "components": {
       "VMware-vmkusb-nic-fling": "1.11-1vmw.800.1.20.61054763"
   }
}

Now we can use both zip files together with the JSON file to create a custom ESXi 8 ISO image. Use the following command.

New-IsoImage -Depot "./Downloads/ESX/VMware-ESXi-8.0-20513097-depot.zip" , "./Downloads/ESX/ESXi800-VMKUSB-NIC-FLING-61054763-component-20826251.zip" -SoftwareSpec "./Downloads/ESX/custom-iso.json" -Destination "./VMware-ESXi-8.0-Custom.iso"

Now you can use your favorite tool to create a bootable USB drive to install ESXi 8.

Conclusion

ESXi 8 is running without any issues and the hardware is more than sufficient for my home lab.

One other major conclusion is that being a vExpert has huge benefits. Because of the program, I made lots of connections with other vExperts that are willing to help. This blog post is created based on vExpert blogs and advice.

A big thanks to all vExperts for sharing all your knowledge!!!

Leave a comment