I just upgraded my Apple Mac Mini 5,3 this morning from ESXi 5.1 Update 1 to the latest ESXi 5.5 release and I am very happy to report the upgrade worked flawlessly! When ESXi 5.5 is generally available, you will be able to just download the ISO and install or upgrade your existing Mac Mini without requiring additional drivers for the on-board network adapter to function correctly. If you have a Mac Mini 6,2 the old SMC issue has been resolved, but the PSOD issue is still occurring. As promised to some folks on Twitter, here is a custom ESXi 5.5 ISO for Mini 6,2 that you can just download and install without any manual intervention:

The only issue that I found is if you are using the Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter, you will find that after the install/upgrade, the network adapter no longer shows up. Looking into this issue, it looks like with the release of ESXi 5.5 and the introduction of the new Native Driver architecture, it had a slight impact to the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter. Having said that, the Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter and Mac Mini was never officially supported, so we were actually lucky that it had worked in the first place.

The reason the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter is not being recognized is that its device ID (14e4:1682) is not in tg3 (Broadcom) map file /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/tg3.map. If the device was officially supported, then it would have been automatically claimed by the vmkdevmgr which handles both vmklinux and Native Driver devices. The fix is actually quite simple and I have created a custom VIB called vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib which will add the appriorpiate device ID to a new custom map file called /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/apple.map which will not collide with the existing tg3.map file. The reason for needing a custom VIB versus appending the device ID to something like /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh is that when the script runs it is too late from a networking stack point of view.

To install the custom VIB, you will need to upload it to your ESXi datastore and run the following command:

esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/[DATASTORE]/vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib -f

Now you can either use the vSphere Web/C# Client to verify the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter is showing up or you can run esxcli network nic list.

158 thoughts on “Running ESXi 5.5/5.5u1 on Apple Mac Mini + Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter Caveat

  1. What about Mac mini Intel HD Graphic 4000 Support for vGPU? as described in vsphere 5.5 new features document. thanks.

    • I don’t believe the integrated graphics card would work with the new vGPU feature. I’m unable to enable the 3D graphics support when creating a VM. Perhaps it might work with newer version of the card, I have 3000 for Mini 5,3

  2. Hi William,
    Great info – thanks!
    Question – what is your Mac Mini config (SSD/RAM/CPU)? How many VMs and nested VMs do you generally run on it with it still being usable? I am looking to upgrade my lab servers and would love to have something as small and quiet as a Mac Mini.
    Keep up those great blog posts!

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for the comment!

      I have a Mac Mini 5,3 (Server) with 2.0ghz Core i7, 16GB of SDRAM (default is 4GB but I don’t recall manufacture, just found them on AMZN). HD is WD SATA and Corsair SSD, I’m sure you can find larger capacity and cheaper prices now. I know a few other folks have several Mac Mini and will be using that to test VSAN in their home lab. Hope that helps David

  3. Hi,
    Any one tested on the Mac mini 6.2 yet, to see if the earlier issues still are there?

    William, thanks for a great blog!

    • I just got a hold of a Mac Mini 6,2 and will be doing some testing. It looks like the SMC issue has been resolved, but the iovDisableIR work around is still needed (engineering hasn’t been able to identify and fix the issue yet). Once vSphere 5.5 GA’s, I’ll build a custom ISO for the iovDisableIR so you don’t have to add it before/after install

  4. Hi,

    Would love to try that on a 6,2 server model.
    Will the ethernet card work at full speed 1000 ?

    Is it a special release? Why can’t I download it on the VMware website ?



    • I just got a hold of a Mac Mini 6,2 and will be doing some testing. The on-board should work at 1GBe. It looks like the SMC issue has been resolved, but the iovDisableIR work around is still needed (engineering hasn’t been able to identify and fix the issue yet). Once vSphere 5.5 GA’s, I’ll build a custom ISO for the iovDisableIR so you don’t have to add it before/after install

    • I would if I could! You’ve been so helpful to the Mac Mini / ESXi community.

      Great news on the test unit! Let us know soon if it’s fully compatible with 5.5.

  5. Question: How do use the Web Client with ESXi 5.5? I am looking everywhere and cannot find it at all. Please help.

  6. Call “HostNetworkSystem.UpdateVirtualSwitch” for object “networkSystem” on ESXi “” failed.

    I’m running a Mac Mini 6,1 and used the custom ISO you provided (I had the PSOD issue when installing the previous version of ESXi) and I’ve followed the instructions above to install ESXi 5.5 and get the thunderbolt adapter to work and found success. However, after a reboot, the vnic adapter is removed from the vswitch it was assigned to. The network adapter is still available, but it is no longer associated with a vswitch. When I try to reassign the vnic to the vswitch, it shows me a list where two of the same vnics are listed and I must change the order of automatic/standby adapters on the vswitch (odd?). When I click to confirm the settings, this error appears:

    Call “HostNetworkSystem.UpdateVirtualSwitch” for object “networkSystem” on ESXi “” failed.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    • Also, when I try to delete the vswitch and try to create a new one with the specific vnic, the following error appears:

      Call “HostNetworkSystem.UpdateNetworkConfig” for object “networkSystem” on ESXi “” failed.

    • I’ve also got this exact issue on a 5.3. Thing is Ive got that NIC dedicated to iSCSI storage, so it’s rather important. I thought I’d cracked it by removing the vSwitch via shell (esxcli network vswitch standard remove –vswitch-name=vSwitch1), removing the iSCSI port binding from the iSCSI software initiator properties and then re-adding the vSwitch from the vCenter client. A rescan of the storage then found my iSCSI LUNs. I’ve now rebooted to see if it persists, and once again the vSwitch appears to lose the vmnic. And also, the port binding is still not appearing in the iSCSI initiator properties. BUT BIZARRELY… it’s still working, as my storage has NOT disappeared! I’ve rescanned a few times to make sure, and now powered on a VM on the shared storage!

      Still… makes me nervous…

    • On a Mac mini 6,2, with the Thunderbolt interface used for iSCSI, the steps to fix this seem to be:
      1) Remove the VMkernel portgroup from vSwitch1
      2) Remove the static and/or dynamic discovery items from the iSCSI adapter
      3) Remove vSwitch1
      4) Add vSwitch1 again, setting IP
      5) Add the static and/or dynamic discovery items from the iSCSI adapter
      6) Rescan

    • Thing is… have you bounced the box and verified it persists? In my case, on a 5,3, the functionality persists… but the vSwitch appears to lose it’s uplink, both in vCenter and in the shell. It was functioning fine until this morning when I decided to mess around with it. I wanted to see exactly what the behaviour was after a reboot and to see if I could recreate the initial problem and once again fix it using the steps I’d done previously and following the order you did it. Well… now I’ve properly broke it! It will not see my iSCSI storage any more. I’ve completely removed everything and started again… but still won’t see the LUNs. I might do a restart of my NAS, but that involves shutting down everything on my other (whitebox) host too, which I can’t do right this minute. Otherwise, might be a rebuild of the mac mini 5,3 from scratch…

    • Running:
      esxcli network vswitch standard uplink remove –uplink-name=vmnic1 –vswitch-name=vSwitch1
      esxcli network vswitch standard uplink add –uplink-name=vmnic1 –vswitch-name=vSwitch1
      esxcli storage core adapter rescan –all

      makes the iSCSI LUNs available. Putting this in /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh doesn’t seem to work, however.

      There are other issues on Mac mini 6,2, like ssh settings not sticking between reboots…

    • Hi WIlliam… does this VIB only apply to a 6,2… or will it sort out a 5,3 as well? I’m minutes away from a full rebuild of my 5,3, but if I can avoid it it would be nice. Many thanks for your work on this… always helpful!

    • You sir are, as always, a genius. Thanks so much for this custom VIB. Banged it onto my 5,3… bounced it and voila… my LUNs appeared again. Avoided a rebuild… thanks again.

  7. I am experiencing the same issue as stevesanda on a Mac Mini 6,2. The commands worked initially to enable the Thunderbolt adapter but after the first reboot, making any changes to the networking is met with the listed error. The adapter cannot be used after reboot.

    • I just got my hands on a Mini 6,2 and will be looking into this problem when I get some time. I suspect this might have to do with the vSwitch networking loading before /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh executes as I’m seeing the same issue when binding to a vSwitch

    • The new VIB definitely fixed the problem. The Thunderbolt adapter now loads appropriately, allowing the NFS service to mount the data stores properly.

    • Ah interesting, you might be the FIRST person to confirm a working Thunderbolt storage setup ūüôā If you don’t mind sharing the model/etc. I suspect you might be hitting a similar issue to Thunderbolt Adapter when going to 5.5

  8. Considering putting this on my 6,2 but would like to know whether 5.5 comes with the web client. And if it doesn’t how can I get it.

  9. Hi all,

    I noticed someone saying the update stopped their Thunderbolt drives from showing up. I haven’t got mine to show up at all, has anyone had any success with this?


    • Hi Willam,
      I installed the 5.5 iso on USB-Stick and also the VIB is installed succesfully but i can’t see my Thunderbolt disk.
      My Env: Macmini 6.2, WD Velociraptor DUO 2 TB
      Any help for this would be really appreciated.

  10. Can anyone help me out. Just got a new Mac Mini v 6.2 and I’m trying to install the latest ISO from this post. I followed all of the steps here to copy it to a USB thumb drive but it’s not being recognized when I hold down the ALT key.

    My Mac Mini has OSX Mountain Lion pre-installed (10.8.x).


  11. What tool are you using to copy the ISO to USB key? The easiest way is to use a free tool called unetbootin which can run on any OS and you simply point the ISO to USB key and it’ll copy the contents for you.

    • Disregard, it seems the USB Thumb Drive I was using was causing the issue. Found a new thumb drive and it’s now loading.

  12. New issue, getting a RAM error, saying I have 3.91gb when I need 3.97. Any way around this until I upgrade to 16gb?

  13. William, Thanks a lot for your work on this! I have followed you on this since 5.0 through 5.1 and now to 5.5. I find it best to wait a month or so and you work out the kinks that would stump me as a novice. I have iSCSI working and I can confirm your instructions above to rebuild it to get it to work.

    One problem that pipes up from time to time is a All Paths Down condition for my datastores. I haven’t been able to work out a reliable solution or predictor of the problem. I end up doing a complete rebuild. Having near term backup images is essential to this.

    Again, thanks for all your work on this! -Bill

  14. Brand new here, my mac mini 6.1 it’s on it’s way form US. Since a vm will run winxp, ubuntu or osx for HTPC i was wondering if i can passtrough the video device. Will it work out of the box?
    Is ok to use the custom 5.5 iso for mac min 6.1 to or i made a mistake not buying a 6.2?
    Thanks in advance

    • Misu, I’m wanting to do the same thing and have been doing a lot of research on the topic and from what I have read thus far you need a 6,2 as a 6,1 doesn’t support VT-d which is required in order to passthrough the video. With that said, I have a 6,2 and when every I try an enable video passthrough, on the subsequent reboot, it hangs when trying to boot at “iodm loaded successfully”. I am consequently on the hunt for a driver update or patch to get video passthrough (HDMI) working.

      • Hello Andrew! In order to get Video passthrough do you need an external graphics card or the one internal intel hd 3000 works ok?

    • I have a Mac Mini 5.2 (i7) with a dedicated GPU. I’m running a vCenter setup using the vSphere Web client do gain access to the extra functionality, since that’s the only way to administer OS X Mavericks. I still cannot find a way to pass through this card to a VM. If I look at the hardware section for my host, the entire ‘PCI Device’ section is missing, although the GPU is listed under ‘Graphics’, albeit with 0Kb RAM. I’m thinking there is a driver missing that needs injecting but I haven’t managed to find such a driver as yet. Any guidance or help is appreciated.

  15. I’ve got a stock macmini 5,3 (with the stock 4GB memory which I know is only enough to get by and not really enough – but then what is?). It’s currently running ESXi 5.0 Update 1 and even with the annoying no auto start bug its a very cool environment!

    To kill that auto start bug, I decided to go straight to ESXi 5.5. However, after I downloaded the 5.5 ISO, burned it with Mac DiskUtility on my MacAir 2011, I put the super drive on the mini and used “C” at startup to get the installer going. All good, except that’s the last thing it does (start the installer, actually running it isn’t part of the process as yet).

    Any ideas (I downloaded and burned the ISO twice just to be sure I didn’t have any file issues even though download manager is supposed to catch that)?


  16. The 5.5. custom iso does not start up from a DVD-drive attached to a mac mini 6,2 (no bootable device, etc.). Burned it twice on different dvd’s to be sure.

    When trying to install with a vanilla iso 5.5 from vmware burned on dvd, I can get upto the reboot sequence. Rebooting just gives the message “No bootbale device — insert boot disk and press any key”. I don’t get to the shift+O step, so I’m stuck here.

  17. Hi all, is there still a problem with getting HA working in a cluster of 2 Mac Mini’s? I have 1 node working but the other fails to get the HA agent installed. Thanks!

  18. Hi all.
    I would like to use 2 or 3 MacMini in a small production environment. At the moment, i use 2 standard Dell Towerserver, but they are big and loud. I use no HA, but NFS Storage for all 6 VM’s.
    3 Windows Server 2008, 3 Windows7 Clients. Backup via Veeam on a second NAS.
    Are the MacMinis working stable enough for an environment like this?
    Thanks for your help.

  19. Hi All,

    I tried the above vib on 2 Mini’s 6.2, it was executed successfully but still the ESX 5.5 cannot identify the thunderbolt. I appreciate your asistance.

  20. Unfortunately the APD problem usually occurs on the drive that I’ve installed esxi on, so it creates a very difficult problem

  21. When I’m booted up into the ESXi 5.5 installer, it can’t see the internal hard drive. I deleted the only partition it had but still no go. Any ideas?

  22. I’m a brand new MacMini 6.2 + 16GB user and am trying ESXi 5.5 for the first time. I used the custom installer mentioned above. I got it installed and can access it from the Windows client but when I try to copy files to the ESXi I’m getting 50KB/sec (yes 50 *KB* )……much too slow to ever use. It takes almost forever just to upload a 2 MB file. Has anyone else seen this problem? Do I need an updated network driver? Or some tuning? This has been a show-stopper for me. I’ve been Googling for the last 5 days trying to figure it out. Any help appreciated.

    – DWS

  23. While trying to enable a Thunderbolt-Adapter on my Mac Mini 5,3 running (vanilla) ESXi 5.5.0 (1331820-standard) I found this blog postl. I successfully imported the provided VIB file via SSH but the Thunderbolt-Adapter still does not show up. Any hints?

      • Of course I rebooted the host (pretty much everything in normal IT seems to require a reboot as part of troubleshooting) – but it did not help. Just by chance I discovered today (when upgrading to 5.5 Update 1) that there is something called “acceptance level” which I had to set to CommunitySupported (esxcli software acceptance set –level=CommunitySupported). After a reboot, the Thunderbold Adapter now shows up as expected. Thanks!

  24. hi,

    I have issue with the installation of the .iso file on MacMini 6,2. After the reboot ESXi hangs and shows the “Relocating modules and starting up the kernel…” message. Adding the “ignoreHeadless=TRUE” option to the boot process doesn’t seam to be recognized.

    An help will be highly appreciated ūüôā


  25. This is a great thread and I’ve learned a bunch, but.. can you please clarify if this works for a late 2013 IMAC too or, if not why it will not. thanks.

  26. I prefer the windows client, feels more solid and direct if that makes sense, wish they had made one for Mac OS or even a app for iOS, anyone have a Mac Mini 6.3???? I have two Mini Macs first one is a 6.1 and i bought another last week which shows up as 6.3

  27. Congratulation for the procedure. 99% done!
    Do you think the Broadcom procedure, may work for the Gigabit NIC with USB connector? If not, there is any way to make ESX recognize it?

    • fabiomeneses, or William, any updates on getting “any” USB NIC to work on the Mac MIni’s? Or any ideas of direction we should go?

      We are trying to find a custom build for a client who wants to use USB to Ethernet, essentially getting 6 active NIC on EXSI 5.5 Mac Mini and are stuck. =) We currently have the two, internal and the Thunderbolt thanks to Williams detailed help on this site. Wish to use 4 of the USB ports for 4 more NICs.

  28. Hi William,

    I’m trying to get the Thunderbolt Ethernet working on an Intel NUC. ESX 5.1 reports the No network adapters, on the off-chance I tried your custom 5.5 image assuming the device ID of the Apple Thunderbolt connector would be the same but the installer hangs at “Loading /custom.tgz”. Any ideas?


    • For testing purposes, you could install ESXi (assuming there’s onboard, not used NUC before) and then manually add the ID and reload vmkdevmgr to see if that works

    • I had the same problem. You need upgrade nuc’s firmware to latest 49.

      But I have still one issue with my nuc, because if network utilization is high ex. cloning nfs -> iscsi the nuc freeze randomly.
      I’am writting about DS3217BY. iovDisableIR was changed also.

      • I have found the solution. First of all, upgrade your driver.
        driver: tg3
        version: 3.136e.v55.1
        firmware-version: 57762-a1.10
        bus-info: 0000:07:00.0

        Change default configuration in BIOS settings. PCIe latency -> 128 and disable dynamic cpu performance or something like that and it appears that your intel nuc with thunderbolt will be working stable even high network utilization.

  29. Did download (different browsers) and burn (slow and verify) twice the image ESXi-5.5u1-Mac-Mini-6.2.iso and got twice checksum error when loading the image… Maybe we should verify the download file? ESXi-5.5-Mac-Mini-6.2.iso did work fine.

    • I can only suspect this is an issue with your download since I have several others confirming the download is working for them. Have you considered trying it on a different machine?

      • Hi, tried on 3 different machines, used FireFox, Chrome and still having Checksum error, sorry… message.
        No other resource to try, I believe that’s the MEGA file thing, which is the only thing different from this ISO to all others I’ve downloaded previously and work just fine, except the ones hosted by MEGA.

        doesn’t work sorry….

        • There have been many people who have not had any issues with the download. Most that do hit issues, it’s due to either an incomplete or corrupted download. You may want to try a different system to download the image

          • Thank you William,

            I tried many systems and when I used my USB DVD/ROM at the Mac-Mini to boot up from the images downloaded none of them worked, however, they all booted up successfully on 2 iMacs and 2 MacBook Pros, I then switched to a simple 8GB USB stick with an image created from a regular Rufus, and it worked like a charm on the Mac Mini (loading from pressing Option key only).
            I have no idea why my CD/DVD Rom is not working on my Mac Mini but, now the images work :)))
            The fist baby was born, now I intend to stack up 2 more Minies and have enough processing power to manage a Security lab with multiple firewalls and a Penn Testing environment as well.

            Thank you for both images, and the reply.



          • Awesome to hear you got things working! I normally just boot off USB device (so much easier and you can have different version of ESXi on different USB keys & they’re so cheap). unetbootin is a great tool for taking ISO and making bootable ESXi install

            Great use case for home lab. Hope you share more details if you plan on blogging about it, I’m sure others may find it useful too

  30. Hi, William. Thank you for all your work here. I have a Mac Mini 6.2 and I was able to install ESXi 5.5u1 onto it with no problem with this applicable ISO above. But for whatever reason, my unit does not recognize the Thunderbolt ethernet NIC at all. I have even tried manually installing the .vib file and rebooting…and nothing. Can you help me understand why it’s not working for me? Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • I’ve been able to confirm myself w/latest 5.5u1 & VIB that Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter still works, wondering if there are newer version of the adapter.

      Can you confirm a couple of things:

      1) Ensure /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/apple.map exists & contains entry for 14e4:1682
      2) Paste the contents of “esxcli hardware pci list”, it might be quite verbose so you may want to just put it somewhere on the web and just provide a link to the output

      • Thank you for the reply sir. I did confirm that the file exists…I even took it a step further and manually added the entry into the tc3 driver file, rebooted and nothing works. Here is the output from the command you sent:

        • I was hoping the PCI ID would be listed in the output, but it doesn’t look like it. You’ll need to plug the device into a system either Mac OS X or Windows and see what it’s being detected as. I suspect that’s the issue …

  31. I want to use a USB to GB Ethernet devce as an extra NIC for my Mac Mini. Apparently these are the correct drivers for my device: ax88179vz024/025/026 and usbnetvz0024/25/26.
    I was wondering if anyone can help me getting a copy? I have looked all over the place, and yes even the manufacturers.

  32. Hey William, I purchase a ‘BOXDC3217BY’ and added the Thunderbolt VIB you provided to a custom ISO of ESXi and was able to install correctly. I am able to get ESXi booted and run some VMs on it, but after maybe 12 hours (I rebooted at lunch), the NIC will stop responding. This may not be time related as this last time I was trying to install CentOS 6.5 into a VM and was testing the centos ISO (just because I could, no other reason), and I lost my vCenter connection. Are there any specific logs you would want me to look at? Any thoughts on what could be causing my adapter to drop out like this?

  33. Is this supposed to work on a Mac Mini 5,1 ?

    because I can’t get that command to do anything it keeps giving me a no such file or path error. I moved the vib to the datastore and can see it from the server itself when using the local cli with F1. The command itself just errors out tho.

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    • You have to make sure you are specifying the full path to the VIB. Please copy and paste your screen output here

  34. have you tried this process with a new MacPro? (Black thermos style)

    I tried the stock installer and yours, both hung on “Relocating modules and starting up kernel..”

    Do you think vmware support has had any experience with this yet?

  35. Hi William,

    Thanks for all the support for ESXi on Mac Mini. I’ve got two Mac Minis both 6,2 versions in my home lab. One is running 5.5u1, the other 5.5u1 plus updates ESXi550-201404001 and ESXi550-201404020. I have installed the Thunderbolt vib on both machines. On the Mac with only 5.5u1 installed, the thunderbolt adapter is recognized and works. On the other, it isn’t even detected (not shown in esxcli network nic list). I’ve swapped the adapters around and proved that they are both working on the 5.5u1 machine, so there’s no problem there. I have checked the file /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/apple.map exists & contains entry for 14e4:1682 on the machine where the Thunderbolt isn’t working. Could it be that the two updates (ESXi550-201404001 and ESXi550-201404020) have stopped the adapter working, or could it be that the thunderbolt port on the mac is defective?

    Any help you could give would be brilliant.

    Many thanks,

    • Some more information – it seems the Thunderbolt port isn’t detected on the machine on which I’ve installed those two updates. On the machine where the Thunderbolt adapters work, I see an entry in the esxcli hardware pci list output:

      Vendor Name: Intel Corporation
      Device Name: DSL3510 Thunderbolt Port [Cactus Ridge]

      But that isn’t present on the machine where the Thunderbolt adapters don’t work. So, either the port is defective, or I guess those two updates ESXi550-201404001 and ESXi550-201404020 have somehow stopped detection of the port? Can that be?

      BTW РI also concur with Maurice David Wörnhard to install the Thunderbolt VIB, I needed to run:

      esxcli software acceptance set –level=CommunitySupported

        • Hi,

          I haven’t had time to try a different Linux distro, but I did re-install OS X and that also doesn’t recognize the adapter when it is inserted. I installed an lspci port (http://rampagedev.wordpress.com/more-guides/use-lspci-for-info/) and that doesn’t detect the thunderbolt card either.

          Strangely, the port works for my DisplayPort monitor.

          I have checked for new software, and installed everything. The firmware appears to be uptodate. My current working theory is that the hardware is defective. Unless someone has some other suggestions, I guess it will be an expensive trip to the Genius Bar for me?


  36. Hi, All.

    Good day to everyone!, I’m Alvin from the Philippines and I’m starting to study VMware vSphere, vCenter Server and ESXi. Since most of the post here are about Mac Mini’s running VMware technologies, I’m thinking to purchase one myself, the latest one at MacStore with processor core i7 2.60GHZ and 16GB RAM, my concern is the Integrated Graphics card that comes with the the Intel 4000, does graphics card really mater when my plan setup is:

    VMware Fusion
    -Vcenter Server
    -VMware vSphere
    -Windows Server 2008/2012

    I Hope you guys can help me out, my second option is to build a PC with the same amount of specifications and budget but a more powerful Graphics Card.

  37. Hi All,

    I’m trying to install the ESXi on a external SATA HDD via Lacie Thunderbolt SATA bridge. However, it cannot be detected by the installer. Is there any way to make it work. Thanks again.

      • Hi William, I installed a VIB (http://www.v-front.de/2013/11/how-to-make-your-unsupported-sata-ahci.html) and then the storage adapter is detected as vmhba1 and vmhba32. However, the attached hdd is not able to be detected. According to that article it could be related to a bug with VT-d. How can I disable VT-d in the latest version of Mac mini? Thanks.

        I’m also using the 5.5

        ~ # esxcli storage core adapter list
        HBA Name Driver Link State UID Description
        ——– ——— ———- ————- ——————————————————————————
        vmhba38 iscsi_vmk online iscsi.vmhba38 iSCSI Software Adapter
        vmhba0 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba0 (0:0:31.2) Intel Corporation Panther Point AHCI Controller
        vmhba1 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba1 (0:9:0.0) Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88SE9182 PCIe SATA 6.0 Gb/s controller
        vmhba32 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba32 (0:9:0.0) Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88SE9182 PCIe SATA 6.0 Gb/s controller
        vmhba33 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba33 (0:0:31.2) Intel Corporation Panther Point AHCI Controller
        vmhba34 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba34 (0:0:31.2) Intel Corporation Panther Point AHCI Controller
        vmhba35 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba35 (0:0:31.2) Intel Corporation Panther Point AHCI Controller
        vmhba36 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba36 (0:0:31.2) Intel Corporation Panther Point AHCI Controller
        vmhba37 ahci link-n/a sata.vmhba37 (0:0:31.2) Intel Corporation Panther Point AHCI Controller

        • I found that passthrough can be configured in ESXi 5.5. As the SATA bridge works under OSX, do you think it’s a driver issue in ESXi?

  38. Hi William, have you been able to get any other storage platforms to connect to a Mac mini running ESXi 5.5u1 other then NAS for use as data stores? For instance, thunderbolt or firewire attached. Also, what NAS solutions do you like? Thanks for all the info on your site!

  39. Hi, I have been running esxi 5.5.0 on the mac mini with iscsi over thunderbolt ethernet for some time and want to upgrade the system. What are the recommended updates for this Setup? Is there a single update or recommended set of patches I can install?


  40. William – this site is great!

    I’ve installed your 5.5U1 iso on a Mac Mini 6,2 with 16GB using 1GB USB drive for the boot device, the 1 TB HDD is used as the datastore. Everything just works, mostly, which is great. I have to VMs installed on the host, both OSX 10.9. The problem I’m having is using a host attached CD/DVD player as a source for iTunes music import. I’ve attached the USB CD/DVD drive to the VMs both as a host based IDE device and as a SCSI device. The device appears and CDs inserted are identified. However the import of music “fails” as only 50-100 KB of data are copied for each 9-14 MB song. The “same” thing happens if I play the CD – no sound, just skips through the CD in about 30 seconds. I’ve swapped out the USB CD, swapped out the CD, tested all against known working and found no failure in either CD or CD player. I’ve reinstalled OSX and problem seems reproducible. I searched for similar complaints and cannot find anything that seems to relate.

    I don’t see any user level reporting of errors, but suspect somewhere there is some I/O errors logged. Any ideas on where to look? Any reason a host attached CD/DVD wouldn’t work?

    Again, thanks for the great site and support.

  41. Thank you for this excellent resource.

    My mac mini (6,1) was freed from desktop use and is now running 5.5u1. I applied the custom VIB and the Thunderbolt Ethernet is up and happy at 1000Mb/s.

    A note on something I ran in to: I decided to boot from a Mavericks USB so I could apply a firmware password. Once this was complete, OS X appeared to disable the ESXi boot disk. A reboot brought a blinky folder icon. To resolve this I had to boot back in to Mavericks USB and ‘bless’ the ESXi EFI boot partition. In my case disk0s1:

    bless ‚Äďdevice /dev/disk0s1 ‚Äďsetboot ‚Äďverbose

    I also followed the process to enable auto startup:

    The OS X method of:

    Terminal$ pmset autorestart 1

    …does not appear to be persistent. If you set it and reboot back in to OS X, it will be back to 0 again.

    The Ubuntu method in the above link, does appear to be persistent (as long as you don’t boot in to OS X).

    Thanks again William

  42. Hi William,

    thanks for this great blog and your time you are investing in this topic.
    I am currently setting up the third MAC mini, which works very well.
    The setup is the following:
    MAC mini 6.2 (2,3 GHz i7 MD388D/A)
    512GB Samsung SSD 850 PRO
    16GB RAM (2x Kingston – KTA-MB1600/8G DDR3-1600 PC3-12800)
    8GB Kingston DataTraveler Micro USB-Flashdrive
    ESXI 5.5 U1 (the customised one which can be downloaded here)

    1. Did anyone try to install VmWare on a SHDC-Card? Some VmWare Gurus prefer SDHC-cards over USB-flash-drives?
    2. Did anyone get the Wifi to run in a VM? If yes, how?
    3. I successfully installed the Thunderbolt-VOB, but as some mentioned before the NIC is not listed in vSphere.
    The entries in Apple.map are there. The question now is whether the NIC only shows up when a Thunderbold to Ethernet
    adapter is connected to the thunderbolt port (currently nothing is connected). May that be the reason?
    4. I did the pmset autorestart-thing and pulled the power cable. So it is persistent and works well. But the Mac mini restarts
    only it case it was switched on when the blackout starts. I use a APC USV (Backup up battery) where its software shuts down
    all VMs and the Vmware. This needs to be changed the way that only the VMs are shutdown gracefully but not vmware.
    Maybe it would be best (to avoid damage to the vmware setup) to have a sequence
    shutdown all VMs > enable maintenance mode > disable maintenance mode ….then wait for the blackout.
    Any experience with it?

    Last thing:
    I could reproduce the “checksum error” that Kerb and Frank reported in end of March.
    It only came up when other USB devices were plugged in the mac mini. When I unplugged them (only USB-DVD-Rom and keyboard connected),the DVD with the 5.5u1 image booted normally. So I inserted the target USB flash drive after booting.

    Thanks again

  43. I just wanted to say thanks William. I’ve come back to this blog over and over, and your work is very appreciated!

  44. I am trying to install ESXi-5.5u1-Mac-Mini-6.2.iso on MACBookPro 5.3. The installation process gets stuck on “Select Disk to Install or Upgrade”. It shows Local Storage as none (remote is the same).

    Can I install ESXI on MACBookPro 5.3 at all ? and if so, what am I missing ?

    I understand that this is rather basic issue (perhaps not sufficient research ahead of time), but will greatly appreciate any help or pointers,

    Thx in advance, Walter

    • I’ve tried to install ESXi on an older generation MacBook Pro but ran into similar issues, figured it might not have been possible but looks like that might be the case for new generations as well.

  45. Has anyone tried this yet on the new (2014) Mac Minis? I’ve got one on the way, and just want to see what to expect. Also, I couldn’t figure out from the thread, but does anyone here actually have Thunderbolt storage working reliably?

  46. I have a MAC Mini 6,2. I used the ESXi-5.5u1-Mac-Mini-6.2.iso and the installation ran smooth. The issue I am seeing is that I cannot see both the onboard and wifi nic, only the onboard ethernet nic. I installed the custom vib. That did not change anything. Any thoughts on what I’m (obviously) doing wrong? Thanks!

    • WiFi NIC? That isn’t expected to show up ūüôā so the behavior you’re seeing is correct. If you want an additional Ethernet connection, you will need to purchase the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter, the WiFi will NOT be seen by ESXi

  47. Nice work. I’m attempting to install 5.5 u2 on my iMac (27inch, i5, late 2013 model) and am unable to continue because of, apparently, a lack of usb support (…I’m unable to “Press ” to continue because all usb support seems to cease following the driver load page).

    Any suggestions?

  48. Perhaps a way to integrate the AppleUSBFTDI kernel driver into the VMWare installation ISO would resolve my issue; if so, how would I go about accomplishing it?

  49. SUCCESS! Used Update 2 Patch 3..included both USB and Bluetooth support!

    Thanks for the articles, they led me down the proper trail.

  50. not sure if this is too far off topic — but for my small testing setup i am trying to figure out more economical way to add more nics to my mini vm’s. it looks like the ax88179 usb3 ethernet adapter has not had anyone update the driver for ESXi 5.5 even though it works in 5.1. beyond that i have looked into something like:




    the intel card is on the supported list and thunderbolt should just pass it through… other than that unless someone else has a brilliant idea — has anyone tried one of the thunderbolt docks? i would presume they would not work as there is a custom card in the thunderbolt box etc.. something like:


    has anyone heard of anything updated with a usb3 gigabit nic on 5.5?? i may set up a machine on 5.1 for testing anyways…

  51. Firstly – I love the info on this site – very useful. I have deployed 4 MacMini6,2 hosts. I am trying to upgrade using update manager, but when I try and upload the ISO image for the 5.5 image it keeps complaining that the image is corrupt. Anyone else get this?

    • Maybe my post from August helps:
      I could reproduce the ‚Äúchecksum error‚ÄĚ that Kerb and Frank reported in end of March.
      It only came up when other USB devices were plugged in the mac mini. When I unplugged them (only USB-DVD-Rom and keyboard connected),the DVD with the 5.5u1 image booted normally. So I inserted the target USB flash drive after booting.

      • This is just uploading to update manager so I can upgrade from remote – no USB attached.
        I did some further testing, i found that I am able to upload the standard vmware esxi 5.5 image, but when I try and upload the ESXi-5.5-Mac-Mini-6.2.iso is says “Failed to import data” “the uploaded upgrade package is corrupt”.
        So just wondering if anyone has used update manager to upgrade their mac minis?

  52. Hi, I recently made a clean install of 5.5u2 on a Mac mini 5.3 – it seems as if the thunderbolt adapter works without any additional modifications now … one thing i don’t like is that my synology iscsi Connection is not automatically restored after a reboot i need to scan for storage devices one time and then it works…

    • Same issue Mac mini 6,2 with 5.5u2 and Thunderbolt dedicated to storage link to Synology iSCSI. Not a huge deal, more of an inconvenience.

  53. Just getting ready to buy my first Macmini, running EXSi. What are the difference between the MACmini version numbers and how/where do I see the difference between version 5,x and 6.x.

    Thanks in advance

    • They’re the different models which you can search for online to see their specs and what can be configured. Only the latest ones (7.x) are being sold directly from Apple.

  54. Hello, building two server lab on Mac Mini 6,2. Used the 5.5 iso you created way back. vcenter vcsa installed. Working on Thunderbolt driver now to get extra nic so I can use iSCSI and/or NFS. Using your vib, I placed in datastore (still local disk (1TB)) and ran esxcli command. No mater how I run the esxcli command I get errno 2 (file not found). Tried chmoding the file, using absolute or relative path etc. Any help would be appreciated.

    login as: root
    Using keyboard-interactive authentication.
    The time and date of this login have been sent to the system logs.

    VMware offers supported, powerful system administration tools. Please
    see http://www.vmware.com/go/sysadmintools for details.
    /vmfs/volumes/5725262a-9b9185d9-1b40-685b35afbb1c # which esxcli
    /vmfs/volumes/5725262a-9b9185d9-1b40-685b35afbb1c # esxcli software vib install -v
    /vmfs/volumes/5725262a-9b9185d9-1b40-685b35afbb1c #
    /vmfs/volumes/5725262a-9b9185d9-1b40-685b35afbb1c # esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/vghetto-
    (‘/vmfs/volumes/datastore1/vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib’, ”, “[Errno 4] IOError: <urlopen error [Errno
    url = /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib
    Please refer to the log file for more details.

    • Took a break, ssh timed out. Logged in again, pulled command up in history and it ran fine. Can’t explain it but lets chalk it up to user error. Had to reboot to detect new adapter. Soldiering on to second host. Thanks so much for making the resources available William. I am learning a ton!

  55. Has anybody had 2 Mac Mini’s hooked up to the same Thunderbolt Storage Array at the same time? I was thinking of replacing my xServe 2,1 with another Mac Mini (heat, and power reduction thoughts), but was thinking that it would be great if the MacMini’s could both be hooked up to my Promise Pegasus R6 at the same time, and both be able to use it. My current single Mac Mini works perfectly well as an ESXi host and the TB storage array is super snappy.

  56. Hi all
    I’ve followed the post with a Mac Min 5.1 (mid 2011 ) and esx 5.5.
    I’ve installed the custom VIB without any error but esxcli network nic list command is not showing the Thunderbolt Ethernet (is not showed in the vsphere), but is blinking in my switch.
    I would like to have 2 nics in my esx ,i really apreciate any help on this.

  57. Great stuff, thank you so much for what you’re doing here. I recently upgraded my mini to 6.5 and everything is working great except I’ve lost my thunderbolt ethernet adapter. What would it take to make this work with the 6.5 release?

  58. Hey William! Thanks for a great resource.

    I’ve scanned the comments but am still not sure whether I can update to a recent build of 5.5 (ESXi-5.5.0-20170904001-standard (Build 6480324)) without breaking my Thunderbolt ethernet adapter. My backup vendor (Nakivo) is recommending we update all our ESXi 5.5 hosts to the latest build. I haven’t patched ESXi since deploying 5.5.0 build 1623387 a couple of years ago with your custom ISO, then installing your custom VIB.

    • Hey Bryan. I have upgraded to ESXi 5.5 successfully with my MacMini and Thunderbolt connections. Wish I knew how to upload a screenshot here to show.

      • Thanks Rhinofart,

        I realize now i wasn’t clear in my original post. I’m currently running 5.5, just an old build (probably U1, tho I haven’t looked it up to verify.)

        On reading further, it looks like MacMini 6.2 and 6,1 (the ones I have) can both run ESXi 6.0 out of the box with full hardware support, including Thunderbolt Ethernet. Instead of simply updating to a recent build of 5.5, I’m thinking I’ll try to upgrade straight to a recent build of 6.0.

        As a backup plan, I’ll shut down the hosts, remove the USB flash drives ESXi is installed on, and clone the bootable USB sticks to identical (or larger) flash drives. (I use SanDisk Cruzer Fit). I’ll try to boot ESXi from the cloned usb drive to make sure it works; then try to do the upgrade on the clone. If it works, yay! If it fails, I’ll just swap back to the original USB drive and keep running my current 5.5 build until I decide to try again.

Thanks for the comment!