How to Create a Custom ESXi Image

In this post we’ll go over how to add additional VIBs to an ESXi image and before we get started with the process let me provide the list of VIBs we are going to be adding:

  1. (Infiniband Card)
  2. (Infiniband Card)
  3. net-e1000e-2.3.2.x86_64.vib (onboard nic)
  4. net-e1001e-1.0.0.x86_64.vib (onboard nic)

Note: All VIBs including the software depots from Mellonox and Synology are located C:\CustomISOs\VIBs


Step1 – Install PowerCLI & Download ESXi Offline Bundle

  1. We need to download and install PowerCli which can be found here as this will provide the required PSSnapin (VMware.ImageBuilder).
  2. Next is to download the ESXi Offline Bundle clicking here and selecting Download Now. The ESXi Offline Bundle contains VIB packages, image profiles for ESXi and includes VMware Tools


Once the ESXi Offline Bundle is downloaded lets copy it to C:\CustomISOs\SoftwareDepot\


Step2 – PowerShell

This can also be done in PowerCli but since I do a majority of my work in the PowerShell’s ISE we’ll use that.

  1. The  Add-PSSnapin VMware.ImageBuilder command will load the Cmdlets from the VMware.ImageBuilder snapin into the current Powershell session.
  2. To get a list of all available Cmdlets we can run  Get-Command -PSSnapin VMware.ImageBuilder
  3. If we want more information about a particular Cmdlet we can run  Get-Help Add-EsxSoftwareDepot -Full


Step3 – Add Software Depot & Create a New Image Profile

  1. We need to add the ESXi Offline Bundle to the depot by running the following command  Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\CustomISOs\SoftwareDepot\
  2. To list the available ImageProfiles we run  Get-EsxImageProfile | ft -AutoSize
  3. Next its best to create a new profile by cloning an existing one by running  New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-6.0.0-20160302001-standard -Name "ESXI6U2-HomeLab" -Vendor VirtualizeStuff
  4. In order to add Community VIBs to the Image we need to set the Acceptance Level to CommunitySupported by running  Set-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXI6U2-HomeLab -AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported


Step4 – Removing VIBs from the ESXi Offline Bundle (Optional)

In order for the Infiniband VIBs to work properly some VIBs need to be removed:

  1. Lets list all VIB objects inside the Image Profile ESXI6U2-HomeLabbundle by running  Get-EsxImageProfile -Name ESXI6U2-HomeLab | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Viblist | Sort-Object .
    The VIBs we need to remove are highlighted in red. Note the order net-mlx4-en must be removed before net-mlx4-core because it has a dependency to net-mlx4-core.
    If your wondering how I knew property Viblist existed I pipped Get-EsxImageProfile to Get-Member (gm) using the following command   Get-EsxImageProfile -Name ESXI6U2-HomeLab | gm
  2. To remove the above VIBs we need to run:


Step5 – Add VIBs to Custom Image Profile

  1. We need add the net-e1000e and net-e1001e VIB by running

  2. If we run  Get-EsxSoftwarePackage | Sort notice how the VIBs are shown in the list of VIBs. The Get-EsxSoftwarePackage returns a list of VIBs from all the connected depots think of it as a repository.
  3. Next we need to add the above VIBs to the ESXI6U2-HomeLab Image Profile by running

  4. If we look at the VIBs contained in the image profile by using  Get-EsxImageProfile -Name ESXI6U2-HomeLab | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Viblist | Sort-Object You will notice they now show up in the ESXI6U2-HomeLab image profile
  5. Next we need to import the software depot from Mellanox and Synology into the repository by running:

  6. If we run  Get-EsxSoftwarePackage | Sort -Property Vendor We see it in the repository.
  7. To view the VIBs inside a specific software depot(s) run:

  8. To add the VIBs from the software depot(s) to the ESXI6U2-HomeLab image profile run:


    Using the -ExpandProperty trick we can look at all non-VMware VIBs from our ESXI6U2-HomeLab image profile by running Get-EsxImageProfile -Name ESXI6U2-HomeLab | Select-Object -ExpandProperty VibList | Where-Object {$_.Vendor -notlike "VMware"} | Sort-Object

Step6 – Final Step… I Promise

  1. Now that our ESXI6U2-HomeLab image profile is perfect its time to export it out as an ISO by running   Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXI6U2-HomeLab -ExportToIso -FilePath C:\CustomISOs\ESXI6U2-HomeLab.iso.
  2. We can also export our image profile out as a bundle by running  Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXI6U2-HomeLab -ExportToBundle -FilePath C:\CustomISOs\
    19 20

Below is the list of all commands used in this post:


Now that we have a custom image with all required VIBs we are ready to deploy the image to our ESXi hosts. Stay tuned for the next post where we go through the installation of ESXi.


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