install-esxi-mac-pro-6-1-5-edited
I have received several questions from customers asking how to go about installing the latest ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 on the Apple Mac Pro 6,1. Luckily, I was able to borrow one of the Apple Mac Pro 6,1 we had within VMware Engineering for a couple of days to document the process.

Step 1 - A prerequisite that must be met prior to installing ESXi is to have the Apple boot ROM update on the Mac Pro 6,1 running on MP61.0116.B05 or higher. This great piece of tidbit came from Josh who discovered issues while trying to install ESXi and found out this was a requirement after opening a case with Apple Engineering. It turns out that there is not an EFI update and the ONLY way to update the boot ROM was to install Yosemite (OS X 10.10) as it contains an update which can be applied to the Mac Pro. Thanks Josh for sharing this tip with us!

You can check the boot ROM by either following this Apple KB here or by running system info with an OS X image on a bootable USB device which is what I did to verify as seen in the screenshot below.

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Step 2 - Once you have met the prerequisite, you will need to download the offline bundle for ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 which contains the Mac Pro 6,1 enablement along with other bug fixes. You can do so by going to VMware Patche portal and under ESXi, you should find ESXi550-201410001.zip at the very top.

Step 3 - Next you need to convert this offline bundle into an ISO image that you can load onto a USB device, this is the simplest way to install ESXi. To do so, you will need a Windows system as it uses a tool called VMware Image Builder which is only available for Windows. Image Builder is part of the PowerCLI toolkit which can be downloaded here.

Step 4 - Once PowerCLI has been installed go ahead and launch the it and we are ready to start authoring our ISO image

Step 5 - Add ESXi offline bundle that we download by running the following command:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot ESXi550-201410001.zip

Step 6 - You will need to select the particular ESXi Image Profile to create your ISO image from, you can view the four Image Profiles by running the following command:

Get-EsxImageProfile | format-wide

Step 7 - You will want to select the one that contains the all patches including security and VMware Tools called ESXi-5.5.0-20141004001-standard by running the following command:

New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-5.5.0-20141004001-standard" -name "ESXi55u2-p03" -Vendor virtuallyGhetto

Step 8 - We now need to export the Image Profile we have selected to an ISO by running the following command:

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi55u2-p03" -ExportToISO -filepath C:\VMware-ESXi-5.5u2p03-Mac-Pro-6-1.iso

Step 9 - Once the ISO has been created, you can now create a bootable USB containing your ESXi installation. I like to use Unetbootin but there are several other tools you can use, select whichever one you are comfortable with.

Step 10 - Plug the USB device into your Mac Pro and make sure to hold down the "ALT" key so you can select the device to boot from and you can start your ESXi installation as you would normally.

Here is a screenshot of the Mac Pro running the latest ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 release:
install-esxi-mac-pro-6-1-6

Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter Support

I know there were a couple of questions from folks asking whether the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter would be recognized by ESXi on the new Mac Pro 6,1 and I can confirm, it does as shown in the screenshot below:

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The Mac Pro 6,1 has two on-board Ethernet ports and comes with 6 x Thunderbolt connections, so you can connect quite a bit of networks if you need to.

GPU Passthru Support

I know a couple of you have asked whether the two Radeon 7870 GPU's could be passthru into a guest OS such as Mac OS X or Windows and it looks like they can from the ESXi point of view, however this is not officially supported by VMware, so YMMV on whether the guestOS can actually make use of the GPU.

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For Windows it looks like it was able to properly detect the GPU (as shown in the screenshot) below and for Mac OS X it does not look like it's properly detecting the GPU. I will see if I can investigate this further but there is a good chance that passthru for Mac OS X guest will not work.

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If you have made it this far and realize you rather not go through that long process (which is quite short actually), then I you will be quite happy to see that I have done the hard work for you and have created an ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 ISO which you can download here. Hope you enjoy your new Mac Pro and running ESXi on top of it!

23 thoughts on “How to install ESXi 5.5 Patch03 on the new Mac Pro 6,1?

  1. I downloaded your ESXi 5.5 Update 2 Patch03 ISO and successfully installed on my MacPro! I am able to manage it from my Win7 system, but I have not been able to succesfully install a Mac OS. I have followed instructions to build an iso from the Mavericks install download from the Apple Store, I have tried using dmg built with Autopkg but when I attempt to launch my newly created vm, it fails to boot from the virtual cd. I am searching for clues where to look next…

  2. I used rufus to create the iso, very simple to use and free.

    I am in the lucky position to have gotten a free testbed quad core mac pro with 32gb.
    I asked in several forums even here but never got feedback on a VERY specific issue:
    Fibre Channel

    So in theory a Mac Pro has 2 pics, so you can run some servers over the 2nd nic with iScsi in addition obviously the thunderbolt adapter works, so you could maybe get a 2gb or more network running with a switch. but lets be honest: fc is so much more sexy
    Use a HP Series SAS storage with 2 controllers crosslink them with 8gb and there you got performance and redundancy and HA with an identical Mac pro ( yes pricy ;( )

    Here is what i did: I went to sonnets site and checked their compatibility chart http://www.sonnettech.com/support/charts/thunderbolt/index.html
    Then i crossreferenced VMWAREs compatibilty site. Attos Celerity came up for 5.5 certified and being Thunderbolt certified.
    Iam sure others work if you have drivers, but if you need new hardware anyways I thought this was the best approach.

    Now: Thx so much for these instructions William , I installed 10.10 …card was shown as PCIe weirdly with PCIe ID 89,0 and 89,1….check

    Then i followed your instructions …. sad face …no FC card visible . Only passthrough available. Now being im a newbie I had no idea one could/should install drivers later on…. I researched and enabled ssh and scped a vib file download from VMWARE to my datastore. Reboot : PRESTO.

    2x8gb FC, only thing left to test : stability
    ( I dunno why but i put it on the 3 thunderbolt bus, maybe better on no1, but I see
    no reason why ?(another sidenote whats the difference between an offline dir and a vib ?) )

    Heres a screenshot as proof: you CAN have ESXI with FC on a mac System:

    http://de.tinypic.com/r/27zztw6/8

  3. I perfectly installed the yosemite thx,

    I had few problems,

    I am trying to connect with a monitor, ESXi has the monitor but VM is not catching the monitor,

    2) I plugged new keyboard and mouse in 2 and 3. usb ports, yosemite VM is not detecting the keyboard or mouse.

  4. First of all, thanks for your great blog!

    I downloaded the ISO you created and was able to install ESXi on a Mac Pro 5. So far everything is working great, but I’m wondering how to change the screen resolution.

    It seems to only give you the option for 1024×768, have you figured out how to use other resolutions? Right now I am primarily connecting to it from my Mac running VMware Fusion Pro 7 and would like the window to be slightly bigger…

    Thanks again

  5. HI William,

    Nice job! One item, I am not seeing the three NICs as shown above for Thunderbolt. I would truly like to connect a storage device using Thunderbolt. Your suggestions? Thanks.

  6. I am completely lost on how to get the web client to work. There is a lot of detail missing in step 10. I have it exi 5.5 installed, but have no clue how to open any clients on a mac. Any hints?

    • The vSphere Web Client is only available with the vCenter Server which you must deploy separately and have a license for unless you’re just using the evaluation copy. If you do not have that then you can use the vSphere C# Client but you will need a Windows host, you can use a VM and point it to IP Address of your ESXi host to download the client. You can also search online if you have further questions on deploying either of these solutions

  7. Hi, I read that I must have an OS X 10.8 installation in order to install OS X on VM. how can I get older OS X installation?

    Thanks

  8. Need help – I get error “The system has found a problem on your machine and cannot continue. Could not load multi boot mobules:Bad parameter”, while installing the ISO provided at the end of the article. Iā€™m on Mac Pro 6,1(late 2013)/3.5 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 with Boot ROM MP61.0116.B11. Any one?

  9. Hello.
    Successfully running ESXi 6 on a MacPro 5,1 and 6,1. However, on the Health Status I only get “Processors” and “Software Components”. Is there any way to get additional sensors? Temperature is the most important one, to make sure the Macs are running cool.
    Thanks!

  10. I successfully installed the latest Esxi 6.0 (build 3620759) to the Mac Pro. It starts successfully in the first time. I then configured the passthru option via the client and make reboot. After the VM started, there is no respone of Keyboard (tried Magic Keyborad 2 and standard Windows Keyboard) so that I cannot hit the “F2” button to customize. There is an error meassge “No compatible network adaptor found. Please consult the product’s Hardware Compatibility Guilde for a list of supported adaptors.”

    I tried re-install from the USB CDRom again but always not be detected. Any idea ? thanks.

Thanks for the comment!