This tutorial explains how to install a driver on VMware vSphere 4.1 from the ESX/ESXi host or the vSphere CLI.
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We recently purchased some new Intel X520-t2 cards for our existing VMware ESX 4.1 hosts. The card has two ports, each capable of transmitting ten Gbps each.

Unfortunately, the driver for this card isn’t in the default set installed with VMware vSphere. Like all things VMware, getting these to work in an existing host is not the easiest of things. During ESX installation, a big glaring warning message is displayed: "If you choose to not install additional drivers at this time, you will not be able to do so later." Well, that's not exactly true. To work around this, just follow the instructions below.

  1. Verify that the card is supported by the VMware HCL.
  2. Download the driver from VMware's Driver CD Repository.
  3. Put your ESX/ESXi host into maintenance mode.

At this point, you can install additional drivers one of two ways: via the vSphere CLI, where you run the files from your own workstation, or via the esxupdate command on the ESX host itself. I personally prefer to do it directly from the ESX host as that's one less variable to flub up.

Install the driver from the VMware ESX host itself

Upload your downloaded ISO to the ESX Service Console using an SFTP client such as Filezilla. I generally just put it in my home directory.

  1. From the console of the host, or via SSH connection, mount the ISO using the command
    mount -o loop -t iso9660 <isofilename> /mnt/cdrom/
  2. Use the esxupdate command to install the driver. On any driver CD you download from VMware is a folder called "offline-bundle," within which is a zip file. This is the actual driver execution package. So to install a driver called, your command should look like this:
    esxupdate --bundle=/mnt/cdrom/offline-bundle/ update
  3. Once the command executes successfully, reboot your host. This can be done via the CLI by typing "reboot".

Install driver VMware.ESX

Install via the VMware vSphere CLI from your local ESX/ESXi host

1. If you haven’t already installed the vSphere CLI, you can get it at VMware.

2. Burn the downloaded ISO to a CD and leave it inserted in your drive.

3. Open a command prompt at “C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware vSphere CLI\bin” (assuming you are using an x64 flavor of Windows).

4. Use the vihostupdate Perl script as shown: –server <IP Address of host> -username root –install –bundle <path to offline bundle>
The "path to offline bundle" is much like what was used in the other option, but it just looks at your local drive. An example would be “D:\offline-bundle\”.

5. Reboot. You can choose the “Reboot” option in the VI Client to do this.

That’s it! After you reboot, you should be able to see your new device in the Configuration area of your host. Below are before and after images of my test host.

Jim Jones is a Senior Network Administrator with a West Virginia state agency but has worked in the automotive manufacturing and academic arenas as well.  He has over ten years of experience in IT with emphasis on Microsoft, Cisco and VMware infrastructures.

  1. Avatar
    Venkatesan 13 years ago

    Very useful, thanks for sharing.

  2. Avatar
    Simon 12 years ago

    Hi thanks for the info however there is an error. This command: esxupdate –bundle=/mnt/cdrom/offline-bundle/ update

    should be –bundle

  3. Avatar
    Simon 12 years ago

    Ok looks like the web page is removing dashes so in my above comment it still says -bundle. There should be 2 dashes before bundle.

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