The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation)

The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation)

January 10th, 2012 // 10:16 pm @

The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation)

This is Part 2 of the Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server.  If you want to read about the research and decision making involved in getting to this point, please refer to Part 1 in the previous blog post.  As we also like to skip the fluff and get to the hardcore details, we’re going to jump right in with the installation of VMware ESXi 5.0.0 Build 469512 (Released in 8/2011).  We also tried this and it worked on a previous VMware ESXi 5.0.0 Build 441354.  Definitely feel free to link to this as we like sharing the knowledge as well.

[Update for quick links 1/30/2012]

To make linking to the other pages easier….

What we used:

  • Mac Mini Mid 2011 5,3 – We picked this because mostly because of the Quad Core i7 which also has up to 8 threads. Note: After reading through most of the Apple documentation, the hard drives can be linked with software raid on Mac OS X, but software raid isn’t really an option for VMware ESXi.  We recommend a backup plan to be ready since one dead hard drive could be a really bad day if you get too dependent on these systems.
  • Upgraded Memory – Though Apple says it maxes out at 8 gb.  We found that Corsair CMSO16GX3M2A1333C9 (2 x 8G) tested fine based on the Newegg comments.  We must warn those willing to go outside of the specifications Apple has set and say we’re not at fault if you lose your warranty! For this tutorial, we’re doing it with the stock 4 gb to show that it works.
  • Apple Super Drive – Since the Mac Mini 2011 doesn’t come with an optical drive, we decided to get one as it’s handy.  You can choose to use a USB drive, but we didn’t want the hassle of trying to get it to install off USB as formatting 4 or 8 gb flash sticks is a pain to wait.
  • USB Keyboard and Mouse – We are using standard Windows keyboard and 2 button mouse.
  • DVI connection to monitor – Yes, you’ll need a monitor with DVI if you want to use the HDMI – DVI connector that the Mac Mini 2011 comes with.
  • CD burner with a PC or Mac that is currently working in order to burn VMware ESXi 5 ISO (register at VMware for free) and a NIC driver disc.
  • Network cable – You’re going to be happy when this works on the network, but in the mean time you’ll need it to verify it actually works.

 Step 1: Burn the VMware ESXi ISO to a CD

Here’s the link to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) download page.  The basics are: Click on Download, create / sign in to VMware, download the ISO, and burn to a CD.  If you need further assistance than this, you’ll probably in over your head with VMware basics.

Step 2: Download the updated Broadcom NIC Driver (VMware Site)

So, this is the elusive driver.  As many of you may notice the release dates of the Build 469512 and the Broadcom NetXtreme I Gigabit driver via VMware are nearly identical in August 2011, this updated driver for some reason just doesn’t make it into the standard ISO.  We must say, this was a true pain to find as we had to install VMware ESXi on the Mac Mini first, figure out the driver version, and then determine how to find an updated driver and patch it.  “ColinNg” and all those who found that the NIC driver wasn’t working, shouts out to you for throwing out the pointer and here’s the gift back to you guys.  Again, here’s the download link: VMware ESXi 5.0 Driver CD for Broadcom NetXtreme I Gigabit Ethernet Driver – 3.120h.v50.2.  From iFixIt, this driver also appears in the Mac Mini 2010 though it appears from the posts that there are keyboard and mouse issues which we can’t really help with.  The file download is small so it should download quick.

Step 3: Burn the Broadcom NIC Driver to a CD

Yes, we burned that Zip file to a CD as well since we’ll show you in the following instructions on how to mount it and use it.  Plus we have to make use of that SuperDrive we bought.  Some of you may know how to slipstream it, but we decided to just go it manually and are more than happy to link it to your blog with how to slipstream it into one smooth install process.

Step 4: Connect the SuperDrive to the Mac Mini 2011.  Start the installation.

Plug the SuperDrive into the Mac Mini.  Load the VMware ESXi installation CD into the SuperDrive.  This goes without saying, but you’ll also need the keyboard, mouse, network cable, monitor, and power plugged in as well.

Hold down the letter “C” on the keyboard while powering on the Mac Mini.  This will kick it to start booting from the SuperDrive.  You should see the VMware ESXi screen from the CD load up and then boot into the setup screens.

Step 5: Install VMware ESXi 5

So for those who just want to see how the installation works, we’ve detailed it with the camera to ensure this is real and how we did it.

Continuing from Step 4, the system will be loading the CD and you should see the following load screen

Next after the CD has been copied on the Mac Mini.  Then the VMware setup will start up.

The prompt to Welcome you to the ESXi 5.0.0 Installation will begin.  Hit the Enter key to continue

After reading the EULA and agreeing to it, click on <F11> to Continue

The drive selection will appear.  We selected the first drive in the array to install ESXi.  Hit the Enter key to continue

The system will ask you to confirm the drive selection.  Hit the Enter key to continue

Select the keyboard layout that works the best for you.  Hit the Enter key to continue.

Enter a root password.  Also confirm the password.  Hit Enter key to continue.

Confirm the installation as the disks will get repartitioned.  Hit the <F11> key to start the installation.  Note that this doesn’t mean you can’t go back and run the Lion recovery (it will still work).

The installation will start as you watch the progress bar

Once installation is complete, a screen will appear stating that a reboot is required to complete it.  Hit the Enter key to reboot the system.

Step 6: Configure Network and Test

The system has booted up at this point.  You should be able to see the VMware screen that informs you to hit <F2> in order to go into the configuration.

After hitting the <F2> key, a prompt for the root password will appear in order to access the configuration and run the network tests

On the menu screen that appears, you will want to select “Configure Management Network

From here, you can click on “IP Configuration” in order to update it to a static IP or adjust the DHCP settings (We prefer static since it’s a test VM ecosystem, you are probably building a DC and DNS server in the VMs)

Here’s the screen as it appears by default but allows you to change from DHCP to static.  Hit the Enter key to confirm the entries.

Going back to the “System Customization” screen.  Click on the “Test Management Network“.  As you can see from the screen shot that the network ping tests fail on our test network.  Our goal here was to show you how it is not working and this is expected behavior.

Step 7: Enable ESXi Shell

After verifying that the network tests have failed, the next part is to enable the ESXi shell.  This will allow us to be able to update the NIC driver now.  Go to the “System Customization” screen again and select “Troubleshooting Options“.  Hit the Enter key on at least the first option Enable ESXi Shell.  After hitting enter the text should change to Disable ESXi Shell as seen in the screen shot.  That is how you know the ESXi Shell has been turned on.

In order to get to the actual shell.  On you keyboard, hit the ALT+F1 keys together.  You should be sent to the shell

Log in with the username: root and the password that you set during the installation.  You will be presented a command prompt after logging in.

Step 8: Update the Broadcom NIC driver

The following are the commands of how to mount the CD from the SuperDrive, copy the driver over to the local system, update the driver on the system, and then reboot.  Please follow these instructions carefully as they need to be done in a specific order for this to work properly.  As a reference, we got this information on how to mount a CD-ROM from virtuallyGhetto – VMWare Scripts & Resources.  Also, to find the instructions on how to update the driver, we pieced it together from another blog from Emulex: Installing or Updating Emulex Drivers on VMware ESXi 5.0

Load the VMkernel module: vmkload_mod iso9660
Mount the CD: vsish -e set /vmkModules/iso9660/mount $(esxcfg-mpath -b | grep “CD-ROM” | awk ‘{print $1}’)
Make a temp directory: mkdir /tmp-brcm-driver

Copy the TG3*.zip file to the temp directory: cp /vmfs/volumes/mpx.vmhba32\XXXXXXXX/TG3312~1.ZIP /tmp-brcm-driver

Change directories: cd /tmp-brcm-driver
Unzip the ZIP file: unzip TG3312~1.ZIP
List the directory contents: ls -al

Copy the offline_bundle zip to /var/log/vmware: cp tg3-3.120h.v50.2-offline_bundle-547149.zip /var/log/vmware
This above step is very important otherwise you will get an error when you try to execute the command to install the driver!!!
Perform the driver upgrade: esxcli software vib install –no-sig-check –maintenance-mode -d tg3-3.120.h.v50.2-offline-bundle-547149.zip

Reboot the system: reboot

Step 9: Verify Network Tests

After the system has been rebooted, you can now run the network tests and they should pass.  DNS might fail for the name of the host if you haven’t already entered the hostname into a local DNS server.  You can go back into the ESXi shell to test network connectivity.  Overall, we have tested this on two Mac Mini 2011 Quad-Core i7 servers.  Both of them work with this process.

Step 10: Next Steps

At this point, download VMware vSphere Client and start going to town.  We’d like to thank everyone for their contributions on the internet for this as we’d definitely like to do more write ups to help others as we get more time.


Category : Blog

115 Comments → “The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation)”

  1. [...] For the technical details, skip to Part 2 [...]

    Reply
  2. Reply

  3. Chris

    2 years ago

    I’m having difficulty with copying the Broadcom drivers over to the esxi host from the command line. I can mount the CDROM using the command mentioned above, but when I copy it, I get a “cannot stat” and “no such file exists” when I try and copy the zip file over. I can’t even use the ls command to list the contents of the cd-rom drive. I get a similar error. Is there a particular way to burn the disc? I even tried unzipping the file and burning the unzipped contents onto a disc. Same problem. I also made sure to finalise the disc, as well as burning a copy in windows.

    Is it possible to mount a FAT32 formatted USB disk in esxi 5.0? That would make things so much easier…

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      First thing, Did you check with any other laptop / desktop that you can see the zip file on the CD after you burned it? In Windows, I show the following file name in full as the only item on the disc. tg3-3.120h.v50.2-547149.zip

      Second thing, please share the commands that you ended up running. Please review the items from the following site as well to ensure you understand the commands that you are typing to mount the drive.

      http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2011/04/how-to-mount-cdrom-using-vsish-on-esxi.html

      If you have further screen shots of anything to share, you can send it to info@paraguin.com and I’ll be happy to help you from our experience. As for mounting a USB drive in ESXi 5.0, you might want to try for a Google. I found this site with some commands that I’ll give a try this week (it was originally written for ESX 3.5 but I’m fairly sure it should also still work as it’s pretty standard Linux commands)

      http://freecomputerconsultant.com/blog/how-to-mount-a-usb-drive-for-vmware-esx-server/

      Reply

      • Chris

        2 years ago

        Yep, verified that the disc works in other systems, both Windows and Mac. Tried mounting the esxi installer disc and copying a file, which worked, so I’m guessing something is borked with the disc I made. I’ll have to try burning another disc with a different utility and/or batch of discs.

        Thanks for your help and quick reply, btw. I’ll report back once I get a disc that will actually work. Everything else in your tutorial is fairly strait forward. Why VMware doesn’t bundle this driver on the installer disc is beyond me. Maybe 5.0.1 will have it.

        Reply

    • Chris

      2 years ago

      Ok, I burned another disc with a different burner and everything worked! Thanks for posting this tutorial.

      Reply

      • Paraguin

        2 years ago

        That’s awesome to hear. Mind sharing which burning program you used and I’ll start compiling a list as I also need to go back and check what we used as well.

        Reply

        • Chris

          2 years ago

          Surprisingly, an old copy of Nero that came with an old DVD-RW drive was what did it. Not at the computer I burned the disc on, but I think it was version 9 or 10.

          Reply

          • Paraguin

            2 years ago

            Thanks. I believe we used the ImgBurn program to create the file. http://imgburn.com/ We’ve found it quite like the good old days of Nero.


  4. Daniel

    2 years ago

    What a great tutorial. Wish there were more of these on the internet; a tutorial which correlates and cites other sources, and delivers with hard work an awesome step-by-step process. I really want to do this, but before I buy a new mac mini, here are some questions:

    1. Would it be possible to install esxi on a FAT32 or NTFS partition that Mac 10.7 Bootcamp has created, then format that drive in the esxi setup to the native format? (So I could still boot in to 10.7)

    2. Would it be possible to install esxi on a partition and us ReFIT as the boot manager? (So I could still boot in to 10.7)

    3. Would it be possible to install esxi FROM a dvd/cd (with the external superdrive) TO a USB thumb drive, then use the in-built hard drive as the data store? (And just not have 10.7 at all)

    4.Would it be possible to install esxi FROM a USB thumbdrive TO a USB thumb drive, then use the in-built hard drive as the data store? (And just not have 10.7 at all)

    Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      1&2) We’re definitely not sure about this as we don’t completely understand the BootCamping and how it relates to the parition tables and will need more information and research on installing ESXi on a partition. As the other comment said, we will be trying install 10.6 on the ESXi environment which would solve your issue of dual booting in a sense. Our goal was to run a 24/7 server environment and not really to dual boot.

      3) Sounds like from another comment that this is quite possible to install onto USB and the commentor got it working on Mac Mini 2010. The install for VMware ESXi is fairly small and you could save yourself the USB drive cost by installing on the drive itself. You can use both hard drives for VMs in the Mac Mini Server.

      4) To us, this seems a bit overboard since again, you’re wiping out the internal drive where you can easily install the ESXi software and not have anything else plugged into the USB ports. We would say the best thing is you can figure out how to stream line the install via USB stick instead of the SuperDrive, then you could rapidly deploy Mac Mini Servers in a DataCenter environment. Then I/O becomes the biggest issue.

      Again, as a note, even after all this, you can reboot the Mac, hold down command + R and go back into the recovery console and reload Lion from the internet. We tested this and stopped mid-way through the download since it was taking an insanely long time and we’re impatient.

      Reply

  5. Matt

    2 years ago

    Thanks for figuring out these details! Has anyone tried running a Lion desktop image on this setup? Research has shown that you can only run an Apple OS on Apple HW supported through the checking of a flag called “smcPresent”. Is this flag set to “true” on the ESXi 5 installs on the Mac Mini? This can be checked via https://address-of-your-host/?moid=ha-host&doPath=hardware ref:http://www.cloud-buddy.com/?tag=esxi-5 Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Based on the ESXi interface, it looks like 10.6 (Snow Leopard) is supported right now. That’s what we’re going to try next when we get a chance since this is obviously running on Apple hardware the thought would be the checks should clear.

      Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Hey Matt. The variable is True. We’re aiming to get 10.6 running first since it’s the one that ESXi 5 supports out of the box. Once we get that working, 10.7 is next as we have to work some magic to do it as a clean install instead of the upgrade via 10.6. Stay tuned…

      http://paraguin.com/2012/01/17/os-x-on-a-mac-mini-with-vmware-esxi-5/

      Reply

  6. Josen

    2 years ago

    I have Supermicro server (2 x Xeon) server running ESXi 4 and connected to a ReadyNas 2100 storage devices from which I load my VM Hosts from an NFS partition and Data from ISCSI LUNS. I run a PDC, Exchange 2003, Windows XP, Windows 7 and and SQL 2008 R2 Guests. I would like to use this ESX 5 Mac Mini solution. Do you envisage any major performance issues. This is purely for home use and for a development environment. The reason for change is to reduce power consumption, space and noise.

    Thanks for a great article!

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Yes, I would think that’s pretty doable though I might recommend two Mac Mini servers. Currently, I replaced two Dell PowerEdge 1950 servers that had 2x Quad Core Xeons w/ 8gb of RAM in them each. As part of experimenting, the Core i7s have the same number of threads as the older Xeons do since each core only had 1 thread back 3 years ago. Now the Core i7s have 2 threads per core so this will help with the fact that you lose an entire processor. You won’t get the shear power that you had, but you’ll get pretty close. I have a PDC, Exchange 2010, McAfee EPO server, PGP Universal Server, a mail gateway to prevent open relays, and a Splunk server in the works for my dev enviroment. Each Mac Mini is capable of running 16 gb of RAM so your VMs will be very healthy on the memory if you want to go that direction. Heat can be an issue, so the best thing is just get a laptop cooler since it works nicely and cheap.

      Reply
  7. [...] servers and blades as well as Apple Mac Mini’s. [Note: the entire post was inspired by this post for Mac Mini's which looks rather complicated. I'd much rather insert the driver beforehand.] [...]

    Reply

  8. vPolo

    2 years ago

    I have been trying to get this working with a MacMini3,1 (Early 2009 vintage) and after many tries, I can say that even with the latest drivers I can’t get it to recognize any NICs (or keyboard, for that matter). If anyone else is successful, I would love to hear your story. Thanks in advance!

    Reply

    • Pat

      2 years ago

      Were you able to get this to work on your 2009 MacMini? I have a Late 2009 MacMini (MacMini3,1) that I would love to have ESXi fully functional on.

      Reply

  9. Ed Grigson

    2 years ago

    Great post and nice idea. I’m about to upgrade my home lab with two new boxes and this might be the way to go.

    Any idea how comprehensive the hardware support is in terms of Fault Tolerance (FT), Direct Path (Intel VT-D) etc? What about Intel VT for nested 64bit guests?

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      I’ll see if we test this, but not sure how much details will come out of it. I think the Summary screen shot will help provide some details for you.

      Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      We’ve added another post of the upgraded memory and the summary screen.
      Fault Tolerance appears to be supported
      Direct Path is not supported
      Unsure about the Intel VT for nested 64 bit guests.
      http://paraguin.com/2012/01/18/the-mac-mini-vmware-esxi-5-server-part-3-follow-up/

      Reply

    • rbbrown

      2 years ago

      Nested 64-bit guest support requires (as Intel calls it) Extended Page Tables (EPT) in the CPU. Many Intel CPUs since Nehalem include EPT, but Intel doesn’t publish which do and which don’t, so the only way to be sure is to check. There’s a program called coreinfo.exe that will do this (and far more) for Windows, but I don’t know of one for Mac OS. The only way to test is to enable a VM for “Intel VT-x with EPT” and see if it boots without a warning message.

      And even then, I wouldn’t be the farm on it, since Apple is a consumer-oriented company. I don’t believe they even identify the specific CPUs used, and they certainly don’t promise not to make minor changes to serve you better.

      Reply

      • vSean

        2 years ago

        Nested 64 bit guests work. I built out a nested lab on a mini 5,3. Esxi5 on the mini running clustered esxi guest vms which are in turn running 64bit windows guests.

        The usual configuration changes to enable nested hypervisors on esx5 work fine on the mini.

        Reply

  10. Timo Sugliani

    2 years ago

    You can confirm you have tested this setup with 2 mac mini servers and 16GB ?

    No issues/PSOD/weird behaviors after multiples days with that updated nic driver ?

    Many thanks for the feedback !

    Reply
  11. [...] The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation) [...]

    Reply
  12. [...] The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation) [...]

    Reply

  13. John

    2 years ago

    Hi,

    What are the possibilities of extra NIC’s on a Mac Mini?
    Are you running the server with built in NIC only?

    Reply
  14. [...] expertise.  So it didn’t come as a surprise to me when I came across a detailed write-up of installing VMware ESXi 5 Server on a Mac Mini.  Anyone who’s familiar with our hardware compatibility guide knows that this isn’t a [...]

    Reply

  15. prg

    2 years ago

    Wonderful writeup, I am planning to get a Macmini server now that it is proven with esxi5.

    Any luck with disk raid? I am planning to get the esxi5 installed on a SD card and use the disk for datastore.

    Cheers

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      I don’t believe the disk raid will work because there’s no driver for it that will be compatible. For having two 500 gb of hard drive space (1 tb) and the size of the installation of less than 1 gb, it doesn’t seem too unreasonable to install on the local hard drive either if the SD card doesn’t work out. Just make sure you have a good backup strategy even in a Dev environment to save your hard work. I prefer a backup program like Veeam since it’s easy to use.

      Reply

      • Chris

        2 years ago

        Would it be possible to schedule a VM clone task to a second iSCSI/NFS datastore from within The VSphere client? Or does that only come with a fully paid-up version of vSphere server? I’m running the 60 day trial version right now, so I don’t know what I’ll be losing once the trial period ends. Ah, to dream!

        Reply

        • Paraguin

          2 years ago

          You’ll need to check the VMware site for this information

          Reply

  16. Kevin

    2 years ago

    Followed instruction when loading ESXi, via superdrive boots but when you select ESXi installer it just hangs, it doesn’t proceed with install. I have tried 2 different working copies of ESXi discs. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      How about trying a custom USB boot loader? I also seen this problem as well. Try rebooting several times and making sure it boots and let it load through the cd

      Reply

    • Chris

      2 years ago

      I held down the ALT key to get to the boot selection menu. Two CD-ROM icons appear. Choose the one that says EFI or EFI boot. If I selected the other CD-ROM icon, I got an error similar to yours. YMMV.

      Reply

      • Tony Parker

        2 years ago

        Thanks Chris! Selecting EFI got me around Kevin’s issue too!

        Reply

  17. Chris

    2 years ago

    Mate you have been posting replies to all the discussions around the web that were discussing getting 2010 Mac minis working with ESX, linking to your articles here.

    However, your fix seems to be specifically about the 2011 Mac minis not 2010?

    I have spent quite a few nights trying to get this going on my 2010 Mac mini servers and not only have had I had to the install and NIC fixes to an SD card on a MBP and THEN insert it into the Mac mini because keyboard is unusable if ESX is booted on a 2010, but the NIC still doesn’t respond anyway?

    Have you made an assumption that this fix works on the 2010 Mac minis, or do you know someone who has done it? Your steps here seem to have no effect on mine so something is still not right :(

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      We posted this solution specifically for Mac Mini 2011 systems as you noticed that the 2011 has a different set of challenges than the 2010. Of course the hardware is not identical and nor do we have an additional 2010 laying around as we favored the Quad Core i7 and not a dual core processor since the idea was to replace a rack server for development. From other comments we’ve seen, others have been able to reproduce similar results on the Mac Mini 2010 based on places we posted our link to try to help. If you refer to: http://communities.vmware.com/thread/326998 You can read that poster allb18c was able to use the NIC driver with a USB installer.

      Reply

      • Chris

        2 years ago

        Thanks for the quick reply – I still can’t work out why it won’t work on my 2010, I get the same old symptoms of the networking simply not relaying packets. Unsure why that other guy was able to get it going, but my feeling was USB related too.

        Given the PITA it has been getting it this far anyway because of the keyboard issue, I am now simply selling my two 2010 minis and have ordered a new 2011 and will simply use that.

        Cheers,

        Reply

        • adam

          2 years ago

          Mac min 2010 and keyboard failure at install

          I as well have a mac mini 2010, that fails to get past the “press enter to continue with install” from reading the various forums i can only gather this is where the esxi5 ( including the U1 version) experience ends. was there ever an answer to this. the ” kickstart solution” from what I’ve read gets only past a few hurdles then fails.
          did anyone ever get a 2010 mac mini to host esxi5 or as a minimum do we need a mac mini 2011 to work ( as far as i know the 2012 version is yet to be released)
          any feedback and solutions would be greatly appreciated.

          Im not sure fiat the point i have either the mac mini 2010 shits or the esxi 5 shits.

          as an aside if i do get a mac mini 2011/2010 to act as an esxi5 host, do i still need the esxi unlocker ( as proven and created by donk ) or since its hosted by a mac platform is this unnecessary

          Reply

  18. Daniel

    2 years ago

    It worked!!!! Successfully installed ESXi 5 on 2011 Mac Mini 5,3 (2.3GHz i5 non-server model with 1x500GB hard drive and 8GB after-market RAM).

    Some of the problems I encountered was that I initially burnt the broadcom driver to a DVD as I didn’t have spare CD’s lying around. When I entered the: vsish -e set /vmkModules/iso9660/mount $(esxcfg-mpath -b | grep “CD-ROM” | awk ‘{print $1}’) command, I was given an vsish error.
    I then purchased a blank CD, burn the driver with the Windows 7 ‘send-to D:’ option and clicked ‘write these files to CD’. After repeating the vsish command it worked!

    I am in the middle of burning the ‘InstallESD.dmg’ which is from the App Store Lion Installer package and will report back if a 10.7 fresh install is possible. I’ve already created a VM for it, so for fun I decided to turn it on without any media. You see I ‘apple-like’ grey screen with the VMWare logo instead of the apple logo. I don’t know if non-apple users see this screen or not, but if they don’t, it might be due to smcPresent flag set to true. Exciting time!

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback Daniel. Just to give you a heads up the 10.7.2 does not work with VMware as it doesn’t seem to boot when you use the DMG file during load up, but if you have a 10.7.0 or 10.7.1 DMG file, it will work.

      Reply

    • Angel

      2 years ago

      “It worked!!!! Successfully installed ESXi 5 on 2011 Mac Mini 5,3 (2.3GHz i5 non-server model with 1x500GB hard drive and 8GB after-market RAM).”

      Daniel, did u had the chance to try HA, FT or SRM on this setup. I am considering investing on the same setup but wanted to sure beside installing it really work for the high end features.

      Reply

      • Paraguin

        2 years ago

        If people are willing to share screen shots and basic information, I’m more than willing to assist in posting or linking to those instructions on how to assist others. I think what people would like to see is what type of equipment is used, configuration settings, and overall performance and efficiency of the HA setup.

        Reply

  19. Tony Parker

    2 years ago

    Thank you taking the time to write this up. It only took me 1 hour from unwrapping my Mac Mini Server to having ESXi up and running! Finally! ESX for MacMini. I have been waiting for over a year.

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Enjoy it, just make sure you spot check your cooling on it if you’re running a bunch of VMs.

      Reply

  20. Gary Dixon

    2 years ago

    Despite being new to ESXi, this worked for me just great. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I’ve installed mine on a mac mini 2011 server i7 with Dual 500 gb drives and running 8gb ram. I came across the same issues as Daniel (see above) with the CD’s, so thanks for posting that too Daniel.

    I will also try the Osx.dmg install, just for fun. For now though, I’m happily configuring my VM’s on my new server. I’m using the server to create a mobile teaching environment for MSFT Analysis Services.

    Gary

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback Gary! Enjoy it as it’ll be a great training device and impressive when you bring to the classroom.

      Reply

  21. Chris

    2 years ago

    Thank you guys.

    I can confirm that we have successfully setup a cluster of MacMini ESX hosts for development stage testing enviroments.

    Reply

  22. George

    2 years ago

    ESXi5 Driver Rollout 2 works out of the box on the MacMini 2011.
    I have the basic model Core i5 with 8Gb aftermarket RAM.
    The Broadcom driver is included, no need for tweaks.

    Cheers.

    Reply

  23. Mitch Johnson

    2 years ago

    Great contribution.

    I just purchased an i7 MacMini, installed the 16GB of RAM which came up fine in OSX.

    When I booted to the ESXi disk, it hangs once it goes into the boot selection, I’ve let the timer countdown to 1 second where it just hangs. I’ve tried hitting enter when the selection is presented and it hangs then. I’ve tabbed between the choices and then hit enter. No matter what I do it stops responding.

    Has anyone else experienced the same problem?

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      I think others have seen that issue as well. One way is that you might need to reburn your install disk with a different program like an older version of Nero, ImgBurn, or use the disk utilities from the Mac if you have like a macbook around. I’ll also have to look up some other commands where you can see where in the boot process its hanging. I’ll try to find the site that I used before.

      Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      This new Mac Mini EFI Firmware update may also help you as well: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1500

      Reply

  24. Mitch Johnson

    2 years ago

    I tried to update my mac mini, and it said “this software is not supported on your system”.

    I’ve tried to burn the DVD using Disco on a Mac and IMG on Windows.

    Below are the particulars of my MAC-Mini. It states that it’s a Mid-2011.

    Model Name: Mac mini
    Model Identifier: Macmini5,2
    Processor Name: Intel Core i7
    Processor Speed: 2.7 GHz

    I’m not sure what is so different from my own system than everyone else’s system, besides the CD. I do use a SuperDrive.

    Any further help on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank,

    Mitch

    Reply

  25. Mitch Johnson

    2 years ago

    I finally had success. I have a bad SuperDrive, once I replaced it the install went very smooth.

    Thanks so much for these valuable instructions. I’ll be installing my Cisco CallManagers and see how it feels to work on my labs without all the noise of the previous servers.

    Once again, thanks.

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      That’s great to hear! Sorry that you had issues with your SuperDrive. It will make some fan noise once it starts heating up =)

      Reply

  26. Dave

    2 years ago

    Hi after successfully installing esxi I rebooted as prompted but I get no bootable Device found any suggestion would be greatly appreciated
    Dave

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Can you provide any other details? Like system type? Method of installation? Where you installed to?

      Reply

      • Dave

        2 years ago

        Its a Mac mini 2011 i7 server edition upgraded to 16gb ram (tested by logging onto osx). Install via CD using generic USB DVD drive. Install it on the 1st hdd listed
        Downloaded the current esxi available from vmware website

        Thx

        Reply

      • Dave

        2 years ago

        Hi I tried booting from CD and it gave me option of running installer or local disk. Tried local disk and it booted into vmware esxi fine but without disk mac mini 5,3 complains it can’t bootable device

        Reply

  27. Rad

    2 years ago

    It worked. Thanks.

    Reply

  28. Rad

    2 years ago

    Instead of mounting the Superdrive, I mounted the Mac Mini on my MBP using Target mode and compiled the driver files to the shell filesystem directly.

    Reply

  29. Rad

    2 years ago

    Sorry. I meant copied not compiled.

    Reply

  30. Scott Stapleton

    2 years ago

    Has anyone got this running successfully on an SD card? It looks like others have done so on PC-based systems with SD but I would like to run off of SD on the Mac Mini and host the VMs on a NAS….

    Reply

  31. Martin

    2 years ago

    Hi,

    today I bought a mac mini server i7 Quadcore 2,0 GHZ 4 GB Ram and tried to install esxi 5.0. First boot until the installation prompt (“install ESXi”), after enter nothing happens.

    Then I read all comments and tried the solution from a comment -> Press alt on boot and choose “Efi Boot”. This works for the first step, the installation is starting and the setup copies files to the disk, but then it stops suddenly with “Multiboot could not setup the video subsystem”. After that it hangs on the next line “locating modules and starting up the kernel”. Any other ideas??

    Martin

    Reply

  32. ThomasB

    2 years ago

    @Martin: I had the same problem until I updated the MacMini’s firmware to the latest version, (For MacMini Server 2011 (5.3): http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1500)

    Reply

  33. eloscurosecreto

    2 years ago

    Note: When copying the broadcom drivers, I found that burning the zip file on a windows system worked fine (don’t use a super drive, for some reason this method does not work).

    Reply

  34. Karan

    2 years ago

    Hi,

    I have weird problem, my esxi installed fine. I am now trying to install the network drivers. How do I get the cd with the network drivers in the superdrive?

    Esxi won’t boot without the vmware CD in the superdrive.And after vmware boots I can’t change the cd in superdrive…

    Help please :S

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Hi Karan, In most cases if you installed ESXi on the local hard drive, it shouldn’t require you to use the CD to boot. The second part is if you really need to switch it the CD, then just unplug it after you boot, plug it into a PC or another Mac to eject if you’re having those kinds of issues.

      Reply

  35. Pedro Costa

    2 years ago

    There is the last buis ESXI 5 update 1 already patched to MacMini Ethernet Drivers.

    ESXi 5.0 Update 1 | 15 MAR 2012 | Build 623860 PatchedacMini
    Last updated: 15 MAR 2012

    You only need to burn it or copy to usb

    http://goo.gl/VreXa EFI Version
    http://goo.gl/7M5kX NoEFI Version

    EFI Version Works for me.

    Regards from Portugal

    Reply

    • nskousen

      2 years ago

      Thanks Pedro, the EFI worked well for me. Do you have a page or link to how you built the EFI version, and how best to make it a bootable USB ?

      Reply

  36. PRG

    2 years ago

    Couldnt get hold of USB DVD/CD or an apple keyboard.

    Alternate method used
    1) Apple remote ( Got it thr atv) to select boot menu
    2) ISO to USB for the 5.0 update1 iso using tool from unetbootin.sourceforge.net
    3) Normal installation done on the same USB. (It wipes out the setup data)
    4) Reboot the Mac OS and copy to interface drive to /var/core on the usb
    5) Back to esxi in the shell , find / -name \*zip
    6) Copy the drive to /var/log/vmware
    7) Update the driver.

    Successfully able to access the esxi shell from network now.

    Issue with SD card, esxi is able to boot, but not able to mount the filesystem. May be driver issue.

    Thank very for @paraguin, you are a rockstar.

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Thanks for the updated comments =) Glad to see that people are putting this to use.

      Reply

  37. EStokes

    2 years ago

    Has anyone tried DirectPath I/O Configuration?

    Looks like the Intel I7-2635QM in the Mac Mini Mid 2011/Server 5,3 does NOT support it.

    But the Intel I7-2620M in the Mac Mini Mid 2011 5,2 DOES support Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) | true.

    Wondering if this would work for USB NICs?

    I’ve got a Mini Mid 2011/Server 5,3 (I’m out of luck).

    Reply

  38. Vito

    2 years ago

    Ok, well I’m following the directions, but something is not lining up for me.
    I have a MacMini5,1 i5 8Gb mem that i’m attempting to get things loaded on.
    I have used the 5.0 update 1 iso and then custom ISO’d in the driver.

    However, no joy on the network. I’m looking at installing the driver by hand, but can’t get a USB drive to mount. lsusb shows the device, but no filesystem from it when I df -k.

    I don’t have a CDdrive to work from so I’m wondering if I tried the USB install again and just used the 5.0 disk instead of update 1.. ??

    I’m new to this, so be gentle please.. ;)

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      Did you see this comment while searching? This might help you with cutting down the time to create the USB stick.

      There is my last build ESXI 5 update 1 already patched to MacMini Ethernet Drivers.

      ESXi 5.0 Update 1 | 15 MAR 2012 | Build 623860 PatchedacMini
      Last updated: 15 MAR 2012

      You only need to burn it or copy to usb

      http://goo.gl/VreXa EFI Version
      http://goo.gl/7M5kX NoEFI Version

      EFI Version Works for me.

      Regards from Portugal

      Reply

  39. Vito

    2 years ago

    I borrowed a CD drive and was able to preform the listed steps to the letter.
    I have success..

    I did try the patched EFI version, but was not having luck with my unibooten. it would not copy into the thumb drive.

    Not to worry, I’m quite on the way now.

    Thank you, one and all..

    Reply

  40. Prajesh

    2 years ago

    First of all this is a very nice tutorial. I am trying to do the same however, when I boot the mac mini server from the superdrive to ESXi 5, I see the initial “Boot ESXi or Boot from local drive” screen but after that I takes too long. So my question is … When you booted to ESXi 5 did it take very long to boot?

    Reply

    • Prajesh

      2 years ago

      Sorry Y’all. Turns out instead of holding the “C” key you must hold the “Option” key. Luckily I borrowed a mac keyboard from a friend.

      Reply

  41. Greg

    2 years ago

    Hi, so the mini comes with to drives, do this only get installed on 1 of the drives? What do you do with the other drive?

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      As some people have stated here, some are looking to install it on SD cards so they can boot it to the VMware ESX environment only when needed and then using the local drives to store the VMs or to use NAS / iSCSI to store VMs.

      Reply

      • vSean

        2 years ago

        The SD card slot is problematic. It does not appear as an install target. You can boot from it if you image the card the old fashioned way (dd), but esx probably won’t be able to write config updates back to the card since the kernel has no driver for it.

        The card reader itself is a feature of the Broadcom Ethernet chipset, but even with the tg3 driver baked into the image the card is not visible to the installer.

        Reply
  42. [...] to the size of a Mac Mini. I was only partially successful. But after reading the blog post from Paraguin (thank you for everything!) earlier this year, I got really excited that he got vSphere 5 running [...]

    Reply

  43. Carl

    2 years ago

    Where is the “VMware ESXi 5.0 Driver CD for Broadcom NetXtreme” driver?

    I can find it via the VMware site but the binaries are not showing…

    Is there another source for these…

    Tks,
    -Carl

    Reply

  44. George

    2 years ago

    Question … If you use your custom package, does it change the root password by chance?

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      2 years ago

      If anything, it’s a Linux box and you should be able to boot as single user mode.

      Reply

  45. George

    2 years ago

    Ignore that last comment .. it was a install issue on my part .. GREAT NEWS… Its up and running ! Thanks!

    Reply

  46. George

    2 years ago

    Paraguin

    Thanks again for your contribution. I got my Mini Server up and running. Couldnt have done it without this blog post as well as the other folks comments.

    I do have a question about the comment you mentioned above. “You can use both hard drives for VMs in the Mac Mini Server.”

    I totally, done away with OSX, frankly my Mini Server was purchased for the purpose of ESXi. But I am a little in the dark how I can access the second hard drive. Can you take a moment and share ?

    Thanks again!

    Reply

  47. Gary Dixon

    2 years ago

    Wondered if any of you had any recommendations for backing up the mac mini once esxi 5 is up and running?

    Reply

    • jake

      2 years ago

      Vaeem backup seems to be the most popular…you can also search for “ghettoscript” if you want to get your hands dirty.

      Reply

  48. Chuck

    2 years ago

    Thanks this is great. I have 3 vms running on it now, only hitch is that I cannot get USB working to attach usb devices, either disk drives, cd drive, or thumb storage. Anyone else with this issue?

    Reply

  49. Homepage

    2 years ago

    … [Trackback]…

    [...] Read More here: paraguin.com/2012/01/10/the-mac-mini-vmware-esxi-5-server-part-2-installation/ [...]…

    Reply

  50. Rene Girardin

    2 years ago

    In order to create a customable ISO package of the ESXi installer, why not use ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.1 from http://esxi-customizer.v-front.de/
    Easy does it, you download the VMware ESXi 5.0 Update 1 (CD ISO) Installable, custuize it with ESXi Customiser by pointing the net-tg3-3.120h.v50.2-1OEM.500.0.0.472560.x86_64.vib included in the .zip package for the Broadcom package and ti-gui-dou, houp la la, just need one install disk to install your ESXi5U1

    Reply

    • Pedro Costa

      2 years ago

      The new version

      VMware ESXi 5.1.0 (VMKernel Release Build 799733)

      Running on Apple MacMini5,1 (mid2011)

      All working, keyboard, network etc…

      Any problem speak with me

      http://wtrns.fr/L5XNMGZj2ihHZ0M

      Regards from Portugal.

      Reply

      • ajs

        2 years ago

        Hi

        After following the instructions, and using ESXi Customizer, I still seem to be having trouble.

        Using esxcli network nic list I can see that the link is up and that the Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM57765 Gigabit Ehternet driver is up and running, 1000, Full. Driver is tg3.

        Using esxcli network nic get –nic-name=vmcnic0

        Driver Info:
        Driver : tg3
        Firmware Version : 57765-v1.42
        Version 3.110h.v50.4
        Link Detected : true
        Likt Status : up

        I am running mac mini 5,2 with 16GB. Installation looks fine, just not networking.

        VMware ISO is:
        VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.1.0-799733.x86_64

        Offline bundle is:
        tg3-3.120h.v50.2-offline_bundle-547149.zip

        Note : In the version quoted above it states 3.110h… and in the file name 3.120h….

        Any ideas would be appreciated.

        Reply

      • Douglas Adami

        2 years ago

        Hi Pedro,

        I already have the other ESXi servers, but was looking for something like what I just read, I was struck by this possibility and I’m thinking of buying a mac mini 5.1!
        I wonder if the system is stable and reliable for enterprise applications.
        I am also in Portugal.

        Regards

        Reply

        • Paraguin

          1 year ago

          Hi Doug,
          The two Mac Mini 5.1s have been running for months without issue. The only problems seen is they get hot though they technically built that way, the suggestion would be to put a fan or a laptop cooler on them to keep the heat down.

          Reply

        • Paraguin

          1 year ago

          It won’t be that great if you need a high disk I/O, but for like a SoHo, it should be ok.

          Reply

  51. JAYTEE

    2 years ago

    I would just like to say thank you for an excellent walk thru. I was able to achieve an outstanding result with a 2011 Mac Mini Server running an SSD and a 7200RPM internal drive. The only thing that caught me out was burning the NIC drivers using the Mac Finder. For some reason the individual files including the zip were not visible when using cp. Burnt again under windows and voila she works.

    Reply

  52. Kimbo

    2 years ago

    Has anyone tried this with 256GB SSD drives rather than the 500GB drives? Any reason it might not work?

    Reply

  53. Michele

    2 years ago

    First of all, thank you for this great work!

    I’ve found problems mounting cd-rom drive from CLI: i’ve followed the link to virtually-ghetto, and it seems to confirms that in ESXi 5 the trick could not works “This trick looks like it only works with ESXi 4.1″. Please, how did you get it working on 5?

    I also tried to mount –after a clean ESXi installation– the cd-rom or USB using passthrought, but it says that it does not support it. In fact Intel i7-2635QM doesn’t have VT-d for DirectPath, as needed: so… How I can mount it?

    Thanks in advance.

    -Michele

    Reply

  54. Tommaso

    2 years ago

    Hi,

    just installed esxi 5 update 1 on my mac mini server flawlessly. Just one question: I noticed there is no audio device emulation for the virtual machines, is anyone using it ? I thought being virtualized it shouldn’t be a problem if esxi does not recognize the mac mini audio hardware

    Reply

  55. GYW

    2 years ago

    Esxi 5.1 requires installation of this NIC driver as well.

    Great post!

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      1 year ago

      Thanks for the update.

      Reply

  56. Alex

    2 years ago

    Hi, thank for the Tutorial. I am having a problem, I have a Mini Mac Mid 2010 with 8GBs of RAM, I run the ESX 5.0 installation, and it runs until it goes to “welcome to the ESXI installation”, after it gets there, I cannot press enter, the keyboard does not seem to work. I have tried diferrent keyboard and same thing. Anyone know how can I pass this and install ESXI?

    thank you

    Reply

    • Paraguin

      1 year ago

      Hm, Have seen some issues regarding this but have not run into this. We used a standard generic $5-10 keyboard and everything worked.

      Reply

  57. Adam

    2 years ago

    Esxi 5.1 works fine on the Mac Mini Mid 2010, no more usb issues.
    “using the TG3.3 drivers with esxi customiser to install”

    1. has anyone figured out how to get the mac to default boot to a usb flash drive with the esxi install?

    2. has anyone successfully installed Leopard (10.5) to a mac mini with esxi5?

    Reply

    • Kivikoski

      1 year ago

      ad 2: Apple does not support virtualization of 10.5 and 10.6.

      Reply

  58. chavez

    1 year ago

    check this thread if you have problems with mac mini 2012:

    http://communities.vmware.com/thread/423099?start=0&tstart=0

    Reply

  59. katd

    1 year ago

    THANK YOU!! I was able to use this info to get esxi running on an iMac… Saved me from having to buy another 64-bit machine just to test things out.

    Reply

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