For those of you who own an Apple Mac Mini 6,2 may recall some of the, lets call them "challenges" on getting ESXi to run on the Mini. These challenges range from known SMC issues from Apple to missing or updated Broadcom tg3 network drivers. Though there workarounds for these issue, the process was quite complex. I took it upon myself to help simplify it by building custom ESXi ISO's for most of the major ESXi releases so that users could simply install ESXi as they normally would and by-pass all the complexity.

This has worked for the majority of folks but I have received several requests for those that may not be comfortable with just downloading a random ISO on the internet, which I can fully understand. The other reason is that some folks would like to build their own custom ISO and include other drivers/packages and others are just interested in the process. This has been on my to-do list for awhile but it was finding the time to document the process but also I normally like to take it a step further and see how I can make it even more simple 🙂

Disclaimer: Running ESXi on an Apple Mac Mini is not officially supported by VMware, please use at your own risk

With the recent release of vSphere 5.5 Update 2, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show how you can build your own custom ESXi ISO to run on the Apple Mac Mini 6,2.

Note: Earlier versions of Mac Mini should work fine for the most part without additional modifications.

Before I get started, I would also like to mention that several of the "challenges" such as having an updated Broadcom tg3 drivers have been fixed in the latest ESXi 5.5 Update 2 release, so out of the box you will be able to see the on-board network device working as expected and Ethernet Thunderbolt will also be functional if you are using that device with no additional drivers being required. I have been able to successfully install the default out of the box ESXi 5.5 Update 2 ISO from VMware on my Apple Mac Mini 5,3 without any additional changes.

Here is the process for building your own custom ESXi ISO for your Mac Mini:

Step 1 - Download the ESXi ISO you wish to work with

Step 2 - You will need access to a Linux system (recommend CentOS) that has mkisofs utlity, which is used to author an ISO

Step 3 - Download my custom.tgz which will automatically handle the SMC issue for Apple Mac Mini 6,2

Step 4 - Download my ghettotize-esxi-iso.sh which is a shell script that will automatically take an ESXi ISO and author a new ISO containing the fixes. The script is pretty straight forward and you can take a look at the script for all the details.

Here is an example of running the script against the latest ESXi 5.5 Update 2 ISO:

build-custom-esxi-iso-for-mac-min-0
As you can see at the end of the script, you should get a new authored ISO with a -NEW in the filename:

build-custom-esxi-iso-for-mac-min-1
Once you have the new ISO, you can then take that and load that onto a USB device. I like using unetbootin which is a handy utility that is supported on all platforms and creates a bootable USB device with the ISO provided. As you can see the process is pretty straight forward and though it took a bit of "experimentation" on my end to make it completely seamless, you can see there is too much to the process in general.

For those of you who rather not go through the process and just wants the goods and trusts me, I have also built out a new updated image for latest ESXi 5.5 Update 2 release. I did not have access to a Mac Mini 6,2 to confirm the build, but I am pretty confident it should work as I tested an earlier 5.5 Update 2 build several months back. You can find the latest ISO along with past ones I have created below.

41 thoughts on “How to build custom ESXi ISO for Apple Mac Mini?

  1. Hey thanks for this. Last week I downloaded the .iso and installed it, and having been through this kind of process before I was wondering about the process. Hours, HOURS! you saved me.

  2. burning fresh ISO’s today for a bit deployment. This is a valuable resource and your a great person for investing your time into this.

    Do you only work for VMWare or is this part of an effort to build something?

  3. I’m curious to know if anybody has had any success in having the mac mini enter and exit standby mode.

  4. May be a repeat question, but already have 5.5u1 on Mac Mini 5,3, any way to uprade to the 5,3u2 without redoing the whole system?

  5. Hello,
    I’am an newbie. I have installed Esxi on my Mac mini Server 5.3 (quad 2.0 Ghz) It works, but my the temperature of my mac case is very high. No, guestsystem installed jet. The fan speed is very slow. I can’t find any health parameter in the config. Can I speed up the fans to bring the themperature down ?

    Thank you very much.

    best regards
    Wescher

  6. hi William,

    waiting your help about the Mac Pro 6.1 ( http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2014/10/apple-mac-pro-61-black-officially-supported-on-esxi-5-5-patch03.html ) , I have tried today your ISO “ESXi-5.5u2-MacMini-6.2” in my Macbook pro 9.2 i5@2.5GHZ with 16Gb ram, and works correctly (used as bootstrap an usb key).

    It’s seen correctly the internal hd sata (and internal dvd, in vsphere client), but I don’t want to use it as repository storage, so a question: I could buy a Data Doubler adaptor that permit to add a second sata unit inside the Macbook pro (an hd or a ssd), Do you think I could correctly seen and use this second internal unit as esxi repository storage ? (or possible any incompatibility with esxi ?).

    The Data Doubler adaptor remove the internal dvd sata, and so It’s possibile to add a second storage unit (in vsphere client I see the internal hd and dvd).

    thanks, regards
    Mike

  7. Hi William,

    I just installed ESXi 5.5u2 on my Mac Mini Server (Mac Mini 6,2 ) via your custom ISO without any problems. I have been waiting for ESXi to be installable on a Mac Mini Server since I bought my first Mac Mini Server back in 2010. Thank you so much for providing the custom ISO! I have been a VWWare user starting with VMWare Server 2.0 on Linux then Fusion when I migrated to Macs a few years ago. I am currently using Fusion 7 Pro and now ESXi 5.5u2 thanks to your blog!

    This is my first time using ESXi and now I am trying to figure out how to install VM’s onto my Mac Mini ESXi host. Are my only options to use VSphere Client on a Windows VM or Fusion 7 Pro to copy over a Fusion VM to my ESXi host? I would prefer to create my ESXi VM’s from scratch rather than migrate Fusion VM’s onto my ESXi host. (Unless you don’t think it matters).

    Thanks again!

    Mike

  8. The ESXi-5.5u2-MacMini-6.2 works great for a new install. However, my Mac minis are in a data center several hundred miles away, so I wanted to see if I can update it remotely using VMware Update Manager. When I import the ESXi-5.5u2-MacMini-6.2 ISO into VMware Update Manager, it fails. In the logs the following appear:

    ‘HUProductMgr’ 7204 ERROR] [productMgrImpl, 468] MD5 check failed: 26cd6d04291c42bfe4cfbb2810da9aa5

    Is there a step missing to update the MD5 values in the ISO? If so, what do I need to do to fix it?

  9. Thanks, William…Question:
    Has anyone tried to use a Thunderbolt dock with USB 3.0 ports attached to a Mac Mini running ESXi? I am running 5.5u2Patch3 on my Mac Mini with a Belkin Thunderbolt Dock. The ethernet port on the dock works, so I know the PCIe bus is passing through, but ESXi apparently doesn’t see the USB 3.0 controller on the dock. Is there a way I can find out the drivers it uses and get those installed on the host?

  10. Hi

    Can you please tell me how to install this 5.5u2 on MacMini 6.2 ?
    I download this iso, make a bootable USB and it runs the ESXI but not install it on Mac.

    I’m able to connect and setup VM but when I restart I have a screen on mac -> no bootable drive.

    Please help I’m neeby on VMs.

    Best regards
    Michal

  11. Hello,

    does ESXi recognize the Thunderbolt-Ethernet adapter automatically after plugging it in or does it need a restart?

    Best regards

    Henning

    • Restart…it runs off the PCIe bus so it isn’t hot plug capable like USB…at least I had to restart when I added it.

  12. is this ISO Setup compatible with Patch 3? I was having issues with my USB 3.0 drives being recognized and VMware said I need patch 3 to solve the issue. I noticed that the Mac Pro 6,1 needed a firmware update to work. I am about to try this on the MacMini 6,2 and am wondering if the same thing is needed.

  13. Thank you for all your hard work on this, you have saved me so much time. I really appreciate everything you have done to make this work.

  14. Hi,

    to all who are running os x on esxi 5.5 upd2 mac mini, is there a way to enable airplay mirroring within the vm?

    Any feedback would be great.

    Regards
    Eldrik

  15. Hi William, I have a odd issue. I have installed 5.5u2 from your build and installed it just fine. My issue is I am using AutoLab to create (http://labguides.com/) a lab on the MacMini 6.2. Everything works great till I mount a ISO and try and install an OS. I get this error when I turn on the VM and then try to mount and ISO on a datastore.

    Connection control operation failed for disk ‘ide0:0’ (201).

    Its odd and have no Idea why.. Seen this before?

    Thanks

  16. Readers may find this information helpful:

    Installing ESXi 5.5u2 on a Mac Mini 6,2 with 4GB of RAM runs into a problem: ESXi reports only 3.91 GB of RAM during the installation and refuses to install. Fortunately there is a workaround!

    1. Boot the system from USB Stick with ESXi installer on it.
    2. Once the installer welcome screen shows up, press ALT+F1
    3. Login as “root”, no password.
    4. cd /usr/lib/vmware/weasel/util
    5. rm upgrade_precheck.pyc (compiled version)
    6. cp precheck.py precheck.py.old
    7. cat upgrade_precheck.py > temp.py
    8. mv temp.py upgrade_precheck.py
    9. vi upgrade_precheck.py
    10. Type “/MEM_MIN” and press ENTER
    11. Press “i” for insert
    12. Edit the line to read “MEM_MIN_SIZE= (1*1024–32)”
    13. Press ESC and then type “:x” and ENTER
    14. ps -c | grep weasel
    15. Note the process id for “python”
    15. kill –9 /\
    16. This put me back at the main screen, but you can jump back pressing ALT+F2 if necessary
    17. Continue the install process

    Adapted from Source: http://dtucker.co.uk/hack/bypassing-the-memory-check-on-a-vmware-esxi-5.html

  17. Today I was trying to install esxi 5.5 on a macmini server 6,2. I followed this setup. The issue I’m facing is it never detects the network adapter and the installation halts. I have tried to customize the installer ISO with various drivers. None have worked. Anyone might know what the issue is?

  18. I actually just noticed your custom esxi 5.5u2 ISO. Install worked great. Do you think you can give me instructions or a walkthrough on how you created the custom ISO? Can you show me where you got the right network drivers?

      • I tried this with VMware-ESXi-5.5U2-RollupISO2.iso which has build 2075275. I noticed your ISO have build 2068190. Could it be possible the driver was removed in this build?

        • Hm, it’s possible but afaik the base Update 2 should include it so any rollups would also have it. Maybe you can try my ISO real quick just rule that out

          • Looks like the NET-TG3.V00 file in your ISO and what is on the current ESXI 5.5 U2 ISO differ in date and size. What you have works. The official ISO does not. Do you know where to obtain the correct driver?

            95K Sep 10 2014 NET-TG3.V00 (virtually ghetto ISO)
            105K Aug 25 2014 NET-TG3.V00.NOT.WORKING (from official ISO)

  19. Hi William, first of all this is a fantastic blog and has really helped me out a lot. Slightly off topic but could you tell me how you made your custom.tgz? I’ve tried to construct one for a different purpose but don’t seem to be able to create one in the correct format. Probably something simple.
    Many Thanks!

  20. Hi William, follow your instruction I got a USB drive configured with ESXi 5.5 U3 successfully, and installed the ESXi 5.5 on Mac Mini 7.x without issue. Only thing is that the installation process is manual. How to configure the USB drive with unattended installation? I searched the web site and there are some suggestions which is to modify the boot.cfg and add a ks.cfg. but seems it does not work. Can you shed some lights here? Thanks!!

Thanks for the comment!