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:
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.