How to create a customized ESXi Installer Image

A week ago I was at a customer site to upgrade from vSphere 5.1 to vSphere 5.5 U1a. The customer has IBM Rack Server and is using Cisco Nexus 1000v. First I tried to get an customized image from IBM but the only available was for 5.5 RTM. Another problem is that all of this images doesn’t include Nexus 1000v VEMs.

For this case I used vSphere PowerCLI Image Builder cmdlets to build a customized images with VEM, IBM CIM providers and updated drivers from the VMware site which are also included in the IBM customized image.

First I created a folder for all the offline bundles and the most recent VMware ESXi offline bundle.

When going to https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch#search and search for e.g. ESXi and 5.5 the top package is the most recent offline bundle.

1. Create software depot

To create your ESXi software depot run following command:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot Most_Recent_ESXi_offline_Bundle

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot ESXi550-201404001.zip

Leverage this command to include all of your need offline bundles to the software depot.

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot BCD-bfa-3.2.4.0-00000-offline_bundle-1634864.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot BCD-bna-3.2.4.0-00000-offline_bundle-1634921.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot ibm_sw_hyper_provbundlv1_vmwaresx55_32-64.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot igb-5.2.5-offline_bundle-1682588.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot ixgbe-3.21.4-offline_bundle-1710123.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot megaraid_sas-6.603.55.00-offline_bundle-1712343.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot qla4xxx-634.55.28.0-offline_bundle-1682448.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot qlcnic-esx55-5.5.183-offline_bundle-1666026.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot VEM550-201308160108-BG-release.zip

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot VMW-ESX-5.5.0-qlnativefc-1.1.20.0-offline_bundle-1604804.zip

If you don’t want to download the ESXi offline bundle prior to the command you can use

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml

to include the whole online depot.

2. Get most recent Image Profile

Using

Get-EsxImageProfile

you will get all Image Profiles which are in your software depot. You will see a -standard and a -no-tools profile. I would recommend to use the -standard profile because it includes VMware Tools.

When using the online depot you will get a bunch of offline ESXi bundles. Use

Get-EsxImageProfile | Sort-Object “ModifiedTime” -Descending | format-table -property Name,CreationTime

to get the most recent on top of the list. It could happen that there are still a lot of bundles with the same ModifiedTime. In this case you have to check https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch#search for the most recent one.

3. Clone most recent Image Profile to new Image Profile

To create a new Image Profile simple clone it using

New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile MostRecentImage “ NameOfNewImage” -vendor NameOfPartner/Vendor

New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard “ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM” -vendor Custom

4. Show all Software packages in the software depot

To get a list of all available software packages in the created software depot you can use

Get-EsxSoftwarePackage

5. Add required software packages to the Image Profile

Software packages with VMware as vendor name are automatically included in the copied Image Profile. To include all other necessary packages use

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile Name_of_copied_Image_Profile Name_of_software_package

I used the following commands to add IBM CIM provides, most recent drivers and Cisco VEM module to the Image Profile

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM cisco-vem-v160-esx

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM scsi-megaraid-sas

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM net-igb

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM net-ixgbe

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM scsi-qla4xxx

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM net-qlcnic

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM qlnativefc

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM ima-qla4xxx

These are the IBM CIM provides which should added in the following order because e.g. filetrans depends on concretejob. If you add filetrans before concretejob you get an error message that a dependency is missing.

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM hwckvm

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM fupb

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM pciinfo

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM soibms

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM immpassthru

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM concretejob

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM filetrans

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM fwupdate

6. Create a new ESXi Install ISO based on the Image Profile

After all software packages were added to the Image Profile you can create an ISO file based on the Image Profile

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile Image_Profile_Name -ExportToIso Name_of_new_ISO.iso

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM -ExportToIso ESXi-5.5.0-20140404001-standard-IBM-VEM.iso

You can now use this newly created ISO with vCenter Update Manager to upgrade existing ESXi servers.

4 Responses

  1. Mario Pregesbauer says:

    Well Done ! , Thanks for publishing this.

  2. Mereela says:

    Thank you for sharing this useful info… I  needed to know about how to creat a customized ESXI image for my final project, was no matter the customization, it could be  anything in this case. In fact i didn’t get the senario you have shared and want you if you could just explain step by step what should I do?

    • Hi Mereela,

      I sorry but I didn’t get your question. I have explained step by step in my post what to do to create a customized Image.
      For which vendor do you need the image? What I did to get the required non-VMware parts of the image was that I downloaded an existing image from the vendor, loaded it to Update Manager and checked all components which didn’t have VMware as a vendor.

      Cheers,
      Fred

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