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Creating custom ESXi Image

VMware ESXi is available to download in the official VMware site. You can download it from the account linked with the registered product.

The base ESXi installation image does not contain all the necessary software packages/drivers required for all the hardware devices. There are cases where you may require additional drivers/software. Installing these required items post-installation might be quite challenging as it involves too many processes. You can avoid such complications by building a custom ESXi installation image. This can be performed through the GUI & command-line interface.

In this article, we will look at the procedure to create a custom ESXi iso using VMware PowerCLI and vSphere Client.

Note: Many vendors are giving custom ESXi installation ISO to support their brand new hardware.

Prerequisite

  • Windows-based PC with VMware PowerCLI Installed. You can download here
  • ESXi Base offline bundle. You can download here
  • Driver or software you need to add to custom ISO. You can download from VMware/Product Site

Before starting to build the custom ESXi image, you need to be familiar with the following terms:

VIB – VIB stands for vSphere Installation Bundle. At a conceptual level, a VIB is like a tarball or ZIP archive in that it is a collection of files packaged into a single archive to facilitate distribution. This software packaging format is used by VMware and other 3rd party vendors to provide the required software for ESXi.

Image Profile – An Image Profile defines the set of VIBs that an ESXi installation or update process uses.

Software Depot – The ESXi software depot contains the image profiles and software packages (VIBs) that are used to run ESXi

Now, let’s look into the process of creating a custom ESXi image using VMware PowerCLI.

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