VMware has just released ESXi 5.0 Update 2 which includes many bug fixes, but along with these fixes, these updates usually also include new inbox drivers as part of the default ISO image for ESXi. One important driver that I had noticed while going through the release notes is the inclusion of the tg3 (Broadcom) inbox driver:

  • Updates the tg3 driver to version 3.123b.v50.1
    The tg3 inbox driver version shipped with the ESXi 5.0 Update 2 is 3.123b.v50.1.

Disclaimer: The Apple Mac Mini is not officially supported by VMware. 

Why is this awesome!? Well, for those of you who own an Apple Mac Mini and would like to run ESXi, may recall an additional step is required to create a customized ESXi ISO to include an updated tg3 driver for the networking stack to function in an Apple Mac Mini. Though the steps have been documented here, it is great to see this working right out of the box using the new ESXi 5.0 Update 2 ISO from VMware. In addition to the networking stack functioning properly after installation, it also enables connectivity to an Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter if you happen to have one connected to your Apple Mac Mini! You no longer have to create a custom ESXi ISO for the Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter as mentioned in an earlier article here.

Note: This article is only relevant to pre-2012 Apple Mac Mini, if you have a newer Apple Mac Mini 6,2 - Please refer to this article for installation.

Here are a few screenshots of running the latest ESXi 5.0 Update 2 on my Apple Mac Mini 5,3 as well as showing the Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter active in ESXi:

If you want a tiny form factor for a vSphere home lab, you should definitely consider asking Santa for an Apple Mac Mini this Christmas 😉 Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday and Happy New Years! 

15 thoughts on “Installing ESXi 5.0 Update 2 on Mac Mini is Now a Breeze! (No Custom ISO/patches Needed!)

  1. What’s the max number of nics you can have on each mac mini. Is it just built in gigabit port and thunderbolt to Ethernet. Can it be expanded to 3.

  2. I’ve just installed ESX 5.1 on a macmini 5,3 and everything seem fine but… no network with the integrated NIC!

    The adapter vmnic0 exists, can be configured for the management network, set a static IP and even says “connected” when an ethernet cable is plugged, but not a single packet goes through. No ping, no DCHP.

    I’ve checked the vmkernel.log but apart a few warnings nothing peculiar, there is even some lines like “tg3 : link up” and so on.

    Anyone using this very setup : mini 5,3 and ESX 5.1 (not 5.0 U2)? Do I miss something in the config (I did check the vmware manual and successfully pinged the mac running knoppix to ensure the NIC is not defect).

    Any idea appreciated. I might try with 5.0 U2. Regards.

    • Yes I did, i.e. burn a USB stick with ESX 5.1 iso (no included driver nor patch as you mention).

      Thanks for you offer, I am fine with 5.0 U2 I guess, unless critical features have been added to 5.1. You might advise?

      Anyway, have you seen ESX5.1 unmodified work on a mac mini 5.3? There might be some config issue with this version, absent in 5.0 U2…

      Thx again.

    • Did you actually read the article (http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/05/thats-so-cool-running-esxi-5-on-apple.html) I linked from the previous reply? ESXi will not work without a custom Broadcom (tg3) driver which requires creating a custom ISO. With ESXi 5.0u2, that driver is now included by default and that’s why it works OOTB. For ESXi 5.1 you will need to create a custom ISO which is noted in the article which I’ve now mentioned for the second time OR you can download the modified ISO that I created recently in the other article. I would recommend you carefully read through the articles as it contains all the info you need

  3. Last year I was able to get esxi booting from USB stick on a Mac Mini 5,1 without any issue. Recently I decided to give it a shot on another Mini, this one a 4,1 (mid 2010) and I can’t get it booting off of USB at all.

    Any idea if this is because it’s an older mini and something changed after 2010?

Thanks for the comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.