VMware How To: Create A Custom ESXi Bootable ISO With Third Party Drivers

PowerCLIIf you have wondered how you can go about creating your own ESXi image complete with any drivers, such as storage controller drivers or network card drivers then you can use PowerCLI imagebuilder to achieve this.
This is helpful if the standard ESXi image is causing a purple screen of death (PSOD) when trying to boot up ESXi.


To do this you will need a copy of PowerCLI, you can download the v5.5 from the VMware website.
Once installed, set the execution policy to remote signed.

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Now you are ready to start building your custom image following the steps below.

Import the VMWare software and vendor depot
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\Name_of_ESXi_Offline_Bundle.zip
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\Driver_Name_of_VIB.zip

Find the name of the driver we added
Get-EsxSoftwarePackage -Vendor Vendor_Name

Find the name of the image profile we want to copy. This will list all the image profiles available within the offline bundle.
Get-EsxImageProfile | Select Name

Copy the image profile that we need and give it a name
New-EsxImageProfile -cloneprofile ESXi-5.5.x.x-standard -name New_Name

Add the VIB to the image, <name> is the name of the driver (E.g. qlogic-nic)
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -imageprofile name -softwarepackage <name>

Export to a new .ISO
Export-EsxImageProfile -imageprofile name -exporttoiso -filepath “c:\custom.imagebuilder.iso”

Boot from the ISO and you have your own custom ESXi image.

1 comment

  • Andrew

    In your example the drivers are already in a VIB from the vendor. I want to load drivers that are not in a VIB. For example, I want to download a driver from support.dell.com for a system that is not on the hardware comparability matrix, import it into VIB, and install ESXi on an unsupported system. There has to be a way to do this. How are the vendors putting their drivers into VIBs?

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