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Background / Problem

  • I have two new servers (Dell R720 & Dell R520) that I plan to install ESXi onto.
  • During the VMWare Hypervisor installation, I'm told that no network adapters exist.
  • Upon checking, I realized that the Broadcom NetXtreme I drivers are required additionally
  • I have obtained the Broadcom driver software bundle from VMWare's web site
  • I have installed PowerCLI on my desktop in case I will need it.


Most ESXi guides describe doing this on a server that's already been set up once, but I am installing ESXi on these boxes for the first time.

  • How do I properly get these network card drivers into the installation process?

  • I am under the impression that I may need to configure a custom installation package that includes these drivers (and use PowerCLI to do this) -- if so, how do I best go about doing this?

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@Rex I was attempting to install 5.1 so it appears that you are mistaken in this case. The Dell customized ESXi image did the trick for me. – SeanKilleen Oct 24 '12 at 18:37
ESXi-Customizer – Davidenko Oct 27 '15 at 10:44
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Which version of ESXi are you trying to install.. I think the drivers for those are now included in 5.1 (I might be wrong though).

Alternatively, you can try to use the Dell customized build of ESXi ISO to install VMWare and see if those include the required drivers you need.

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Thanks for the link to the Dell site! Their ESXi image did the trick. – SeanKilleen Oct 24 '12 at 18:36
What if I have a licensed version of VMware? VMware vSphere 5 Enterprise? – Mitar Apr 6 '13 at 1:00
Why is called recovery image? Is this also for initial installation? – Mitar Apr 6 '13 at 1:42

Another way that can work:

  1. Download the offline software bundle for the NetXtreme I cards from VMWare.
  2. Download the ESXi Customizer software
  3. Extract ESXi customizer
  4. Run ESXi customizer as an administrator.
  5. Select the ISO file
  6. Select the .VIB file for the drivers
  7. Select an output directory
  8. During the installation, allow ESXi customizer to replace the VIB file
  9. ESXi Customizer creates a bootable ISO.
  10. Use the custom ESXi ISO to install.

A huge thanks for these tools as they are the only thing that allowed me to get this done quickly.

I'm going to wait to see how the Dell ISO works out and then try this one. I'll mark the answer as correct in that order of which one works.


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Another advantage to going with the Dell customized ISO (5.1 has been available for about 3 or 4 weeks now) is they roll in their hardware monitoring to the install – Zypher Oct 24 '12 at 17:01
thanks @Zypher -- an excellent tip! – SeanKilleen Oct 24 '12 at 18:38

Make this easy on yourself - get the Dell-provided ESXi images. Those should have all the hardware things you might need.

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