VMware ESXi 5.1, I had to change the NIC adapter from vmxnet3 to e1000. Since there was no way to actually change the driver the NIC adapter is using I had to delete the vmxnet3 adapter and create an e1000 one.

This resulted in the removal of vmnic0, vmnic1, and vmnic2 (each ESXi host has three adapters), and the creation of vmnic3, vmnic4, and vmnic5.

The problem is that all the documentation and existing network configuration is laid out for vmnic0, vmnic1, and vmnic2.

What do I need to do to have my new e1000 adapters be recognized as vmnic0, vmnic1, and vmnic2 by ESXi?

I have access to the DCUI so I can make whatever changes on the local console without the need to SSH in. I understand that ultimately the configuration options are in /etc/vmware/esx.conf and I definitely see vmnic0 entries in there. At the same time I don't want to mess the config up for good. There has to be an option to remove old vmnics and reclaim the associated device names?


Turns out this was actually pretty easy to solve, especially when one has DCUI access.

The relevant VMware KB article is ESXi/ESX host loses network connectivity after adding new NICs or an upgrade (2019871). The article states to not remove vmnic0 because you will of course lose network connectivity when you do, but if you have the DCUI that's not a problem. The workflow is: Put server into maintenance mode, remove (all) old NICs, reboot server, add new NICs, reboot server, done.


One way to get vmnic0 etc. back is to select "Reset system configuration" in the DCUI menu. But this will delete all custom configuration (but not any patches installed) and reset the system to the default post-install state.

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