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Custom ESXi 6 image for Adaptec 6805 RAID controller

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Some time ago, we changed the hardware of our VM server. We replaced the RAID controller with an Adaptec 6805 because the old controller had some problems. The server run with ESXi 5.1.

The problem with our Adaptec controller was that ESXi didn't support it out-of-the-box. It was supported in general but the driver was not included. We thought that the new ESXi 6 could contain the driver, but it didn't. So we had to create our own ESXi image with the Adaptec driver.

We thought it shouldn't be a problem because there was much documentation about custom images:

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/04/using-the-vsphere-esxi-image-builder-cli.html
http://www.virten.net/2015/03/esxi-6-0-image-for-intel-nuc/
(DE) https://www.thomas- krenn.com/de/wiki/Individuelles_ESXi_5....

Some problems:

  • We tried to create an image for version 6
  • We used the free version of ESXi with all its limitations

A problem was that the documentation references an "offline software depot". You can download the offline depot for the paid version but it's not available for the free version - not as simple download. No offline deplot means no custom image - right? Not right, because it's also possible to use an online depot.

The problem was that the documentation didn't contain a full description. We found some hints in different blogs but no complete description.

Here are the steps how we created our custom ESXi 6 image with Adaptec 6805 driver:

Downloads

Useful PowerCLI Documentation:
https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-55/index.jsp#...ve-EsxSoftwarePackage.html

Image creation

  • Install PowerCLI 6 (and all required dependencies)
  • Unzip the Adaptec driver to e.g. C:\temp\VMServer6\
  • Run PowerCLI as Administrator (sometimes, first launch of PowerCLI isn't working - simply close/run again)
  • Execute following commands
    # Preconfigure
    Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
    cd c:\temp\VMServer6\

    # Use online depot
    Add-EsxSoftwareDepot https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
    # Add offline bundle for adaptec driver
    Add-EsxSoftwareDepot aacraid-6.0.6.2.1.41024-offline_bundle-2915492.zip

    # Check added depots
    $DefaultSoftwareDepots

    # Lists all ESXi-6.* profiles
    Get-EsxImageProfile -Name "ESXi-6.*"

    # Sets the base profile
    New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard" -name "ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard-Adaptec" -Vendor "rjahn@SIB" -AcceptanceLevel "CommunitySupported"

    # Lists all included drivers
    Get-EsxSoftwarePackage -Name "*aacraid*"

    # Adds adaptec driver from offline bundle
    Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard-Adaptec" -SoftwarePackage scsi-aacraid

    # Creates boot image
    Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard-Adaptec" -ExportToISO -filepath C:\temp\VMServer6\build\ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard-Adaptec.iso

    # Creates Bundle
    Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard-Adaptec" -ExportToBundle -filepath C:\temp\VMServer6\build\ESXi-6.0.0-20160104001-standard-Adaptec.zip

Version numbers may be different, but the procedure should work for you as well. The online depot:
https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml

was the most important thing. All other steps can be found in the standard documentation.

7 Responses to “Custom ESXi 6 image for Adaptec 6805 RAID controller”

  1. Andrew says:

    Hello
    I just want to say a big thank you for posting this. I have been trying for two days to install Esxi on my server running Adaptec 8885. Your instructions worked exactly.
    Thank you.

  2. rjahn says:

    Thank you for the feedback!

  3. victor bueno says:

    Thanks a lot, now you have a friend at venezuela

  4. rjahn says:

    Great!

  5. victor bueno says:

    i mean it, you helped me a lot to install esxi6 in an inspur server

  6. witalis says:

    thanks a lot, really helpful

  7. Michael Firth says:

    A slightly more straightforward option is to use the "EX Customiser" tool from this URL:

    https://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer-ps.html

    To build a bootable ISO with the AAC-RAID driver included.

    What I did was:

    Download the VMware ESXi 6.7.0 offline bundle (this is available for download if you register for a trial) from:

    https://my.vmware.com/en/group/vmware/evalcenter?p=vsphere-eval

    Downloaded an AAC-RAID driver from the MicroSemi website - I actually picked one for a newer RAID card, as it seems to be a superset of the one needed for the 6805:

    https://storage.microsemi.com/en-us/speed/raid/aac/linux/aacraid_vmware_drivers_1.2.1-56009_cert_tgz.php

    The one listed for the 6805 is here:

    https://storage.microsemi.com/en-us/speed/raid/aac/linux/aacraid_vmware_drivers_1.2.1-52040_cert_tgz.php

    Install PowerCLI (as ESX Customiser is just a wrapper around this)

    Create a folder, and put the ESX Customer script, and the 6.7.0 bundle file in it. Create a "Extra" sub folder, and extract the .vib from the Adaptec driver package into that folder.

    Then an ISO can be built with:

    .\ESXi-Customizer-PS-v2.6.0.ps1 -izip .\VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-8169922-depot.zip -pkgDir .\extra

    In theory the customiser script should be able to download the VMware image directly, without having to give it the bundle, but that seems to always time out for me.

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