How to customize a VMware ESXi image and install it in a Hyper-V VM

I’ve been doing recently  VMware ESXi deployment in my lab environment and would like to share main steps required to make it work on nested Hyper-V. Needless to say, nested virtualization works great only for demo and labs, therefore, running ESXi under Hyper-V is a completely unsupported in production environments.

Anyway, carry out the following steps to install ESXi (6.0, in my case. although these steps should work for newer versions as well):

1. Download VMWare ESXi offline bundle available at product download page (e.g. ESXi6.0). You can also download a ESXi image customized by vendor. For example, here is a direct download link for Dell’s ESXi 6.0 image which includes Dell’s VIBs in addition to built-in installation bundles provided by VMware.

2. Download the driver  which allows running ESXi as a VM under Microsoft Hyper-V (net-tulip, it’s actually a network driver which should be added to ESXi image. Otherwise, ESXi installation will be blocked)

3. Copy the downloaded files to the same folder (e.g. ‘D:\Images\VMware ESXi 6\’). It’ll be used as a work folder.

4. Download and install VMware PowerCLI 6.3 or newer

5. Once PowerCLI is installed,  run it and set location to the folder containing the files, then add offline depot ZIP files to the current PowerCLI session as shown below:

cd 'D:\Images\VMware ESXi 6\'
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\

6. Retrieve the name of the standard image profile and note it (it’ll will be used as a clone for a new profile):

Get-EsxImageProfile|ft Name

7. Create a new image profile by cloning existing profile which name you just noted, and then add the driver’s package to the profile:

#Create a new image profile
New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-6.0.0-2494585  -Name -Vendor custom

#Add custom packages
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile -SoftwarePackage net-tulip -Force


If AcceptanceLevel is set to PartnerSupported by default (as in the picture above) and custom packages which you are going to add to the image profile have Community acceptance level, you will receive an error during creating an ESXi ISO and it’s installation . To resolve this, set the acceptance level of the image profile to CommunitySupported by running the following command: Set-EsxImageProfile -AcceptanceLevel CommunitySupported –ImageProfile


8. Now it’s time to create an ISO from the customized ESXi image.To do this, run the following command:

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile -FilePath D:\Images\esxi60_custom.iso -ExportToIso -Force

Create a new VM with the following settings:

  • Generation 1
  • Static RAM (> 4Gb is recommended)
  • More than 1vCPU
  • Legacy network adapter connected to the switch

A sample of VM’s configuration is shown below:


9. Once you finished to configure a VM, enable virtualization extensions on the VM’s CPU. Optionally, you can download a script available at github to check VM’s configuration and  enable nested virtualization. Both options are allowed:

#Option 1
Set-VMProcessor -VMName "vHost-01" -ExposeVirtualizationExtensions $True

 .\Enable-NestedVM.ps1 -vmName "vHost-01"

10. Turn on the VM, attach the created ESXi ISO and press TAB on the boot screen, then type ignoreHeadless=TRUE and press Enter. Otherwise, ESXi boot will hang while booting  (I assume it’s all because ESXi is running on non-HCL hardware. VM is a bit out of the HCL list..).

esxi on hyper-v_1

11. Complete ESXi installation process (as usual), reboot it and press SHIFT+O during the startup, and then enable ignoreHeadless option again as shown in the screenshot:

esxi on hyper-v_4

Once ESXi is successfully started, define settings for management network, enable a Shell, and then press Alt+F1 to enter to a console. We need to set a VMKernel boot-time parameter. Otherwise, you will always need to enable ignoreHeadless after every reboot.

Provide root credentials and  type esxcfg-advcfg -k TRUE ignoreHeadless

esxi on hyper-v_6

Close the console by pressing ALT+F2, reboot ESXi and verify that it starts up seamlessly.

That’s it. Now you have a ESXi host running on a Hyper-V VM.

Until then,

enjoy your day :)!

FAQ: How to manually update ESXi and vCenter

In the previous post we discussed the tool that makes upgrading and updating process easier – vSphere Update Manager.

Now we are going to talk over manual process of updating core vSphere’s components – ESXi and vCenter. This type of updating is recommended when you have a small-sized infrastructure (whether it’s demo or production). Today’s FAQ does not cover complex architecture (with external SSO or etc.) and upgrading itself . To get some more information please use links in the references.

Note: updating is not a synonym for upgrading term. Jump from vSphere 6.0 to Update 1 is updating, vSphere 5.1 to 5.5 is upgrading

Hardware behind this post: 1 nested vCenter Appliance, 3 nested ESXi hosts, cluster (HA, DRS,FT) is configured

What’s the right update sequence for ESXi and vCenter ?

vCenter is always first, updating ESXi hosts are the second step. Additionally you need to check VMware Tools (3rd step) and VM Hardware Version (4th step) and upgrade them if applicable.

In vSphere 6 VMFS-3 is deprecated (there is no option to create VMFS-3 and support will no longer be available at the future vSphere releases). So, if you have VMFS-3 datastores you need to upgrade them to VMFS-5 (last step)

How to update vCenter Appliance?

Download ISO with updates @vmwarepatchportal


Note: patch-FP at the end of the filename means that is Full Patch , patch-TP – updates for the specific vCenter components and third-party

Mount ISO with updates (“…patch-FP.iso”, in my case) and run the following command:

software-packages install --iso --acceptEulas

vcenter update

Reboot vCenter:

shutdown reboot -r “vCenter Update”


you can send updates to staging (without immediate installation) by using the following strings:

To stage updates:
software-packages stage --iso  

To list staged content:
software-packages list --staged   

To install (ISO must be attached):
software-packages install --staged

How to update Windows-based vCenter?

Go to VMware patch portal and download package for vCenter Windows


Attach ISO, run autorun.exe and click on “Patch All”


During the patch process, the Management Software undergoes a downtime as the patch restarts the services. So, be ready for vCenter unavailability for a short time.

How to update vCenter Appliance from the web client?

With the release vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 update 1b, you able to update vCenter Appliance from the web-based management interface (VAMI).

Open https://vcenterfqdn:5480, go to Update section and check for updates.

If your hosts are not up to date, click on “Install updates”.

and select “install all updates” or “install third-party updates”


How to update ESXi hosts?

Evacuate all critical workloads to the different host (place host to the maintenance mode), enable SSH and run (all updates can be downloaded in the same manner as for vCenter. the main difference – updates are in the zip-format):

escli software vib install -d /vmfs/volumes/deviceidhere/


or use DCUI with enabled bash

Reboot host : vSphere client, reboot cmd or press F12 –> F11

How to upgrade VMware tools and VM hardware?

VMware Tools is a suite of utilities that enhances the performance guest operating system and improves management of the VM. There are different packages for VMware Tools: built-in vCenter/ESXi,  OSPs (were specially created for some OS), OVM or Open VM Tools (newer version of OSPs and they are injected into some linux OS / new version can be installed from online repository). If VM has installed OVT, VMware tools status in vCenter is “guest managed” or “3rdParty/unmanaged

VM Hardware version reflects the virtual machine’s supported virtual hardware features. These features correspond to the physical hardware available on the ESXi host on which you create the virtual machine. Virtual hardware features include BIOS and EFI, available virtual PCI slots, maximum number of CPUs, maximum memory configuration, and other characteristics typical to hardware

vSphere 6 supports the following versions :

  • VMware tools from ESXi 5.0 and later
  • VM Hardware 4.0 and later

VMware Tools and VM Hardware upgrading steps:

  1. Create backup or snapshot of VM
  2. Upgrade VM Tools by using web-client (install/upgrade VMware tools option , ESXi will mount ISO to the guest OS, run setup.exe on the mounted drive and follow instructions)
  3. If your guest OS is Linux-based VMware tools (Xubuntu, in my case):
    sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools
  4. Power Off VM or Reboot VM (if you have the latest VM Hardware version)
  5. Right click on VM and select “Compatibility > Upgrade VM Compatibility” and then “Yes”
  6. Power On VM


Update sequence for vSphere 6.0 and its compatible VMware products

ESXi/ESX hosts and compatible virtual machine hardware versions list

vSphere 6.0 Upgrade Guide 

VMware Support For OVT

One-to-one mapping between VMware Tools for ESX/ESXi version-number codes

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