As part of my home lab I installed ESXi 6.0 on one of my older i5 Desktops, the PC has a Realtek 8168 network card built into the motherboard. I recently tried to upgrade it to ESXi 6.0 but it would not detect my network card and the installation would fail. It looks like ESXi 6.0 does not include an inbox driver for this card. When I originally installed ESXi 5.0 on this PC there was an inbox driver that got installed automatically and I did not have to inject it into the iso. Here are the steps how to inject the Realtek driver into the ISO image of ESXi 6.0. This should work for the following NICs Realtek 8168/8111/8411/8118.
I originally tried to inject a vib taken out of ESXi 5.1U3 offline bundle but that would fail with the below error. It looks like 5.1 vibs are not compatible with ESXi 6.0.
Could not obtain module order from esximage db
The installation profile could not be validated due to the following errors:
VIB VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733 is obsoleted by set([‘VMware_bootbank_misc-drivers_6.0.0-0.0.2494585′])
Add Realtek R8168 Driver into an ESXi 6.0 ISO
1. Download the “net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi-offline_bundle.zip” file (ESXi 5.5 and 6.0 only)
My download mirror: net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi-offline_bundle.zip
2. Download ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.2. Even though it is meant for ESXi 4.1/5.1/5.5 it works perfectly fine with ESXi 6.0 and created a usable iso.
My download mirror: ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.2.exe
3. Use “unetbootin-windows-608.exe” to install the generated iso to a USB disk
Driver provided from this site: https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net55-r8168
ESXi Customizer provided from this site: http://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer.html