How to install Realtek R8168 Driver to an ESXi 6.0 Server using SSH

Ever since ESXI 5.5, I couldn’t use the onboard Realtek NIC on my Whitebox ESXI home lab server. My whitebox is built with an AMD CPU and & Asus Motherboard. As a short term remedy, I went and purchased an PCIE Intel NIC which solved the problem for me temporarily in the past.

Very recently I wanted to use some extra vmkernal ports so I thought instead of buying another intel nic, how can I have the RealTek onboard NIC back. After a good 1 hour google searching I found some article which all relates to ESXI version 5.0 driver. Most of the article also describes how to inject the driver as part of Esxi image, but what you already have the esxi installed and now just want to inject the driver?  I tried to download the .vib file from those article that were for ESXI 5.0 version but it didn’t work, I was consistently getting the below error message

“VIB VMware_bootbank_esx-base_6.0.0-2.34.3620759 requires vsan << 6.0.0-2.35, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within the ImageProfile”

a little bit more digging around, I managed to find another version of .vib driver from the VMware community which is meant for ESXI version 6.0 so I decided to give it a shot. Below are the procedure step by step

1) Enable SSH from host – this is easy, if you not sure how to, just google it
2) Putty into your host using root credential
3) First we need to identify what is your NIC device ID, in my case, I already knew my device is realtek chip, but I didn’t know which model of realtek it is? So below is how you find your device ID from SSH
Put the below command in SSH

lspci -v | grep “Class 0200” -B 1

Here, as shown on the below screenshot you can see that my NIC is Realtek NIC which is associated to the motherboard with the PCI ID (Class 0200: 10ec:8168)
If you google with the device ID you will see that its a Realtek 8168, all you now have to do is find this vib driver from the community.

4) Now you need to get the current host acceptance level. To get the current acceptance level type the below command in cli

esxcli software acceptance get

5) Enable host acceptance level to community supported, this is because the drives I am going to inject is community developed. on a brand new install of esxi, usually the acceptance levels are set as “partnerSupported”
To change the host acceptance level type the below command

esxcli software acceptance set –level CommunitySupported
you will get the below result

VMware Link that explains more about this = https://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-55/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vsphere.security.doc%2FGUID-751034F3-5337-4DB2-8272-8DAC0980EACA.html

6) Now you have to download the Realtek driver version that is compatible with ESXi 6.0
The driver can be downloaded from here net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi-offline_bundle
7) Unzip the content, after unzipping you will find a file named “net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi.x86_64.vib”
8) Place this file inside the esxi host /tmp folder.
9) How to place in to /tmp folder? – Load winscp, log in to your esxi host using WinSCP, as soon as you log in you will find the tmp folder at the bottom, just drop the above file in the tmp folder.
10) Now to install the .vib – use the below command

esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/net55-r8168-8.039.01-napi.x86_64.vib

The above is basically using the esxcli vib inject switch with the datastore location

This should give you a message, vib injection successful, along those lines. You will then need to reboot your ESXi host.

Once you reboot your host, if you now go to your hosts configuration > Network Adapter, you will see the Realtek NIC showing up, as shown below

 

Hope this article has saved you $50 & time from getting an intel nic 🙂

 

One Response to How to install Realtek R8168 Driver to an ESXi 6.0 Server using SSH

  1. […] Today I have loaded ESXi 6.5 in my Whitebox PC. The Motherboard is a Asus M5197 R2 motherboard that came with an onboard Realtek NIC which doesn’t work with Esxi 5.5 onwards. So I wanted to install a community version of VBA as explained in my earlier post Link […]

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