ESXi 5.1 Update 1 was just released by VMware and similar to the ESXi 5.0 Update 2 release last year, the tg3 (Broadcom) driver has now been updated to 3.123b.v50.1 which is required to support network connectivity on the Apple Mac Mini's. Prior to this, to install ESXi on an Apple Mac Mini, users were required to build a custom ISO that included the updated tg3 driver and I am happy to say this is no long necessary! In addition, having the latest driver also provides out of the box support for the Thunderbolt ethernet adapter which is great if you are looking to add an additional ethernet connection to the Apple Mac Mini.

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

Here is a quick screenshot of the networking details including the Thunderbolt ethernet adapter on my Apple Mac Mini 5,3 running ESXi 5.1 Update 1:

Apple Mac Mini 6,2 Users

If you have an Apple Mac Mini 6,2 the workarounds described in this article are still required as well as an additional issue regarding the on-board NIC for the Apple Mac Mini 6,2. The issue is that the on-board NIC is not recognized and claimed by the tg3 driver because there is not a PCI ID entry in the tg3 map file. Note, BCM57766 driver is supported, just that it was missing the mapping (I believe this was the case in 5.0 as well). Working with VMware engineering, I was able to obtain the SMC fix and along with the workarounds that I built earlier for ESXi 5.0 and I have created a custom ESXi 5.1 Update 1 ISO that includes all the fixes and you will be able to install it on your Apple Mac Mini 6,2 without any further modifications.

Download: ESXi-5.1u1-MacMini-SMC-BOOT-FIX-6-2.iso

Note: From my understanding, some of these issues have been fixed but just did not make it in time for the Update 1 release. I'm hoping that we will be able to get most of these fixed in a future patch or update. This is actually pretty awesome, given that this is NOT SUPPORTED by VMware, but engineers are still willing to help the community out!

UPDATE: When trying to enable vSphere HA, the following error "Could not find a trusted signer" is thrown. To get around this problem, you will need to manually install the vSphere HA VIB and then reconfigure vSphere HA. The easiest method is to SCP the VIB from the VCSA and then using ESXCLI and the --no-sig-check flag to install the VIB.

Here are the commands to run:

scp /etc/vmware-vpx/docRoot/vSphere-HA-depot/vib20/vmware-fdm/VMware_bootbank_vmware-fdm_5.1.0-1064983.vib [email protected]:/tmp
esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/VMware_bootbank_vmware-fdm_5.1.0-1064983.vib --no-sig-check

Additional Resources:

68 thoughts on “Installing ESXi 5.1 Update 1 on Mac Mini is Now a Breeze! (No Custom ISO/patches Needed!)

    • Hi David,

      Are you using Mac Mini 6,2? If so, you may need to follow the instructions mentioned in the note at the bottom still for the other issues

    • I, too, still experience problems with a 6,2 with the latest build. I can apply the iovDisableIR fix no problem, but the SMC problem with detecting the ability to run Darwin/MacOS appears to linger. Also, the on-board TG3 NIC no longer comes up.

      I wonder if someone with more brains than I will publish a new working 5.1U1 ISO that works with the 6,2?

    • William,

      Yes, I had ran into the PSOD on 6,2. Using the patched ISO that you posted previously worked fine. I may have to customize the ISO to incorporate some of the same patches to 5.1U1

    • Downloading now. I can possibly offer hosting the ISO if Dropbox gets mad at you. I’ll give feedback in the next few days as I test this new ISO out.


    • I’m testing your newest custom ISO, but I think I’ve run into a snag. Mac OS virtualization works fine, the onboard NIC works fine, and the SMC fix seems groovy. However, any hosts to which I’ve deployed your custom image can’t seem to join an HA cluster. I’m still early in my troubleshooting and I’m certainly not going to point any fingers yet, after all this is completely unsupported. But so far it looks like hosts built with this ISO can’t verify the signature of the signed VIB from vCenter when added to an HA-enabled cluster. My other hosts get and install the vSphere High Availability Agent service no problem, but not Minis provisioned from this ISO. I’m going to keep digging and let you know what I find.

      In the mean time, do you have any ideas? Could it be related to the version discrepancy (5.1.0, 00000)?

    • I think that I just all but ruled out that the signed VIB installation problem only happens in this latest custom ISO. I’ve tried several different permutations of 5.1 and 5.1U1 images on different hardware and I can’t reproduce the problem I’m having. I think I also ruled out any SSO problems on my vCenter.

      When I join a MacMini6,2 to a HA-protected cluster, the FDM VIB fails to install. The following error shows up in the hostd.log:

      ‘VMware_bootbank_vmware-fdm_5.1.0-1064983’, ‘Could not find a trusted signer.’

      Has anyone else joined a host built from this custom ISO to a HA-protected cluster without errors?

    • Thanks, dude! That seems to have done the trick. It’s the path that I was heading down already. Any idea why the signature verification doesn’t seem to be working?

    • Has anyone come across an issue where when you reboot your host, that first the “iovDisableIR=true” still needs to be done at the beginning of ESXi booting. then also what ever configurations you set like IP address, hostname, passwords get removed and you have set this up everytime you boot again? any way to resolve this one?

  1. I ran into the same problem. I have updated my ESXi System via Update Manager to 5.1 U1 and lost the onboard an Thunderbolt NIC.

    I booted again from my 5.1 Installation USB Key and performed the Upgrade Installation. The NICs are back online and the build level of the ESXi is 1065491…

    I have connected a Sonnet Echo Express Pro PCIe Expansion via Thunderbolt at both of my Mac Minis. Inside the Sonnet is a Brocade 10GBit CNA and an IBM Serveraid Controller. It is working perfect. I use the Apple Gigabit Thunderbolt Adapter at the Daisy Chain of the Sonnet box.

    I have now 2 x 1GBit, 2 x 10Gbit and a real Raid Controller…. πŸ™‚

    • This is the first evidence I have heard of using a PCIe Thunderbolt chassis with an ESXi mini. Are these cards seen by the host environment or just passed on to the guest OSes?

      I am needing to do this, but with a FC card instead.

    • I’m using the Sonnet Mini chassis with a QLE2642 4gb FC card in one slot and a dual port NIC in the other. You get one x16 and one x4 slot, IIRC. A 10GbE NIC should be fine in the x16. It shows up in the host environment just like it should. ESXi sees the TBolt as just a PCI bus.

  2. I’ve got a new Mac mini 2012 just arrived. It’s hanging on an install from USB at:
    Multiboot could not setup the video subsystem
    Relocating modules and starting up the kernel…

    Any ideas how to get past this? All Mac updates applied (in case any firmware e.g. Thunderbolt, prior to trying to install.

    • I’ve not seen that error before, so hard to say what’s causing it. You might want to try to post to the VMTN communities and see if anyone else might have ran into it before and what the solution is.

    • There are a couple of community entries, which are saying that the size of the video memory can cause this message.
      Based on those its recommended to increase the size of the video memory within the BIOS of a server.
      So if that’s possible on a Mac mini – try to allocate at least more than 1 MB video memory.

    • Same thing happened to me when I plug in to my TV through the HDMI cable…..when I connected to a real monitor with the DVI connector it did not give me this problem.

  3. I’m happy to report that the custom ISO for the MacMini 6,2 works perfectly! The only (non) issue is the build number is reported in the vSphere Client as 5.1.0,00000.

    William, thank you very much for your support. It is very much appreciated!

  4. Hello everyone,

    I just hae tried to install your custom ISO in a Mac Mini 6,1. everything is fine except once I have installed a Mountain lion VM, the Thunderbolt port is not able. Any suggestion? Should I try with another ISO file?

    Thank you for your help!

  5. I can testify that this ISO works perfectly on my Mac Mini’s 6,1. Just purchased in the beginning of May.

    I was banging my head for a few days as to why I could not power up OSX. It turned out i used your first 5.1 ISO, then I used Update manager to update the Hosts.

    People do NOT update your hosts using update manager! It will break the AppleSMC driver and the new binaries will prevent it from loading.

    So I took this ISO, and I did an in-place INSTALL (not upgrade) and preserved the VMFS. The reason for this is because when you upgrade the buggy setup that was preventing the AppleSMC from loading will still be there. You have to do a complete overwrite install, but remember you can preserve your VMFS datastores, if you have any.

    Good luck everyone and stay away from Update Manager until you know for sure VMware fully supports Mac Mini’s as an Apple OS Host.

  6. I was planning to create ESXi lab for my home to get prepare for VCP. And this posts helps me alot.
    I have one question.

    Do you think I can use HDMI display for mac mini ESXi installation, instead of DVI display?

    I search several sites which demonstrate ESXi installation on mac mini, but every site seems to use DVI display over HDMI-DVI cable which is included in mac mini.

    I have HDMI display(TV) which I’m using for standard use on mac mini, but I don’t have DVI display.

    I’d be very appreciated if you can help me. Regards.

    • I tried few minutes ago.
      It seems installation process shows fine by HDMI display, but it stopped while installation process, because my display do not support resolution that ESXi installation program request. I’m gonna buy DVI display that supports resolution.

  7. Thank you for the great ISO. I could finally install my macmini 6,2!

    It works quite well except for the 100Mbps for the on-board NIC not 1000M.
    When I tried to set the NIC to 1000M/Full with the esxcli, the NIC always got Down.

    Something wrong…?

    • Same here with MacMini 6,2 and the ESXi-5.1u1-MacMini-SMC-BOOT-FIX-6-2.iso.
      I have the same problem with this. Trying to transfer an existing OVF (with vSphere Client) to the server just takes ages. The image is 15gig big, after 2 hours i am still at 2%
      When I try to set the NIC to 1000M/Full it crashes.

    • Sorry about that, looks like Dropbox is placing a restriction due to high downloads :/

      I’ve just re-uploaded the ISO to Mega and re-linked. Let me know if you have any issues

  8. Have you noticed any overheating issues with this? I installed it and my Mac Mini is burning hot when it’s running. Any ideas?

    • i am running vmWare ESXI 5.1 on 2 test machine( a Desktop and a Mac Mini) and both are burning hot. In both cases, I have to replace the RAM with the new ones.

      I still do not have solution on this overheating issues. Any info would be helpful.

  9. Quick question, I am looking to create our own custom ISO for a proof of concept at my job but we are unable to get the thunderbolt working. What driver are you using in your image?

    Is there anybody out there using thunderbolt for a second NIC for iSCSI?

    Hardware == Mac Mini 6,2

  10. What’s a good / cost effective iSCSI storage device to pair with this setup? Thanks for the ISO btw!

  11. A representative from VMware informed me at Macworld this year that they had no plans to add the Mac Mini or Mac Mini Server to the HCL. Without the Mini on the HCL, he didn’t see how it would be officially supported.

    He explained that the lack of ECC memory was the issue. The Mac Pro and Xserve have it, the Mini doesn’t.

    They have had high-level discussions with Apple, hoping they would add ECC to the Mini, but nothing had changed, so he didn’t expect that Mini to appear on the HCL.

  12. As others have mentioned in this thread, the Mac Mini 6,2 onboard NIC is only inserting at 100Mb, not 1000Mb as would be expected. Can others confirm this? Is anyone getting 1000Mb / 1Gb?

    • What does “esxcli network nic list” show? I don’t have access to a Mini 6,2 at the moment, but on 5,3 it shows 1GBe

      ~ # esxcli network nic list
      Name PCI Device Driver Link Speed Duplex MAC Address MTU Description
      ——- ————- —— —- —– —— —————– —- ————————————————————-
      vmnic0 0000:002:00.0 tg3 Up 1000 Full 3c:07:54:77:af:54 1500 Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM57765 Gigabit Ethernet
      vmnic32 0000:00c:00.0 tg3 Down 0 Half 40:6c:8f:30:84:d5 1500 Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM57762 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe

    • ~ # esxcli network nic list
      Name PCI Device Driver Link Speed Duplex MAC Address MTU Description
      —— ————- —— —- —– —— —————– —- ————————————————————-
      vmnic0 0000:001:00.0 tg3 Up 100 Full a8:20:66:35:23:9c 1500 Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM57766 Gigabit Ethernet PCIe

      If I change from auto to 1000 full, the NIC drops out.

    • After loading the latest Broadcom NetXtreme 1 3.131d.v50.1 driver from VMware, ESXi doesn’t recognize the NIC. Is this because there isn’t a PCI ID entry for the Mac Mini 6,2 Broadcom controller in the tg3 map file? If so, what’s the easiest method to overcome this?

  13. Any chance we could get the MD5 of the ISO? I’m getting an Image checksum error while trying to boot off it. Thanks!

  14. I have trouble trying to get the ISO boot up in flash. the mac doesn’t show it as an option during boot.

    what tools/procedure did you guys used to create the ISO as a bootable flash?

    do advise, and thanks for the nice work!

  15. I was asking which tool do i need to use to create a bootable USB Flash drive out of the custom ISO here.

    and so it seems i need a tool like unetbootin? will try. i thought that was only for windows (read at website that the iso build from it only works in windows. “Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, or Linux, or Mac OS X 10.5+. Note that resulting USB drives are bootable only on PCs (not on Macs))”

    Will try it now, thanks!! πŸ™‚

  16. Hi guys, I solved the previous issue, so thought i remove the comments to unclutter.

    ANother question.
    Now that the onboard NIC work, will it also work if i plug in a thunderbolt->ethernet adaptor? will it detect?

    A pity the wireless couldn’t work

  17. Impressive work! Can you suggest what I need to customize on the ISO if I want to use ESXi 5.5 on Intel NUC?
    Model: Intel DC3217IYE
    North Bridge: Intel QS77
    CPU Type: Intel Core i3 3217U 1.8GHz (2 cores, 4 threads, 3MB Smart cache, 5 GT/s DMI, 64bit, AVX)
    Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, 350 Mhz base frequency and 1.05 Ghz Max Dynamic frequency, HDMI output
    Memory Type Supported: DDR3 1333/1600 2 x 204Pin
    Max Memory Supported: 16GB
    Campers Lake Motherboard/CPU/VGA Set (D32217GKE)
    Hyperthreading: Yes
    VT-x: Yes
    HDD Slot: mSata
    Capacity: 128GB
    For VM Storage, I have a NAS iSCSI device 2TB

      • Hi William, I found the solution online for installing on NUC. People installed ESXi5.1 on NUC by customizing the ISO after including additional drivers like sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.vib, net-e1000e-2.3.2.x86_64.vib, net-e1001e-1.0.0.x86_64.vib. I’ll be trying to install ESXi 5.5 out of the box this weekend so I can create a temporary lab to do some testing. If anyone’s interested, I can share my experience on how it goes. Thanks!

  18. Hi William, Great effort you are providing for the community. Question: I have installed ESXi 5.1 on my 6,2 and it has been running great for a year. Want to add the Thunderbolt Ethernet. In reading your pages it looks like the driver should be built into the 5.1 build (my build is 5.1.0, 799733). I have the adapter but it is not present from within vSphere. Is there something else required for 5.1 to make it work?

  19. Any chance of doing a custom mac mini 7,1 custom ? im going to try your 6,1 custom and hope it works (but i dont hold up much hope πŸ™‚ ). I need a 5.1 image to work with existing setup.

Thanks for the comment!