VMware ESXi 4.1 on Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P

UPDATE – to make this work, I installed the Intel 1000GT network card (NIC) and it worked beautifully, well worth £17

I’d like to do some work on the current VMware product set, having worked there many years ago. I’ve decided to see if I can get my workhorse Q6600 server running ESXi. It has a Gigabyte EP45-UD3P mobo, which has a supported SATA controller, but the NICs are not supported (see the VMware Whitebox and the Whitebox HCL) .

There isn’t a lot of good explanation of how to create a custom ESXi boot disk out there; a lot of the threads assume a lot of knowledge – even as an experienced virtualisation user and unix admin, I haven’t found a good explanation.

In summary, the ESXi installation media has a bootable archive embedded in the imagedd.bz2 file. This imagedd includes the files and drivers necessary to boot ESX, including an OEM file, oem.tgz, with custom drivers for specific hardware.

There is a small cottage industry developing custom oem.tgz packages for specific hardware, however, it’s not well documented which version of ESXi these will run on, as it seems that ESXi 3 & 4 have different driver architectures and there is a change in the file structure between 4.0 and 4.1 (see below).

I’ve downloaded the Realtek 8111c oem.tgz from Customising your ESXi install, but found there were no really clear and simple instructions for how to create and update a bootable USB ESXi installer with a custom oem.tgz. There are lots of shell scripts and makeisofs command line for us geeks, but no simple instructions.

I tried using the Universal USB installer from Pendrive Linux, but got a boot error – the VMware iso isn’t a live cd so may be setup differently. Although there are some good notes on setting up with syslinux at Ubiqutous Talk, I ended up downloading and using unetbootin

Bad news is that I get an error, Unable to load module /usr/lib/vmware/vmkmod/vmfs3 (scroll down to avoid the Experts Exchange nonsense…), which appears to be an error when the NIC is missing, as if it’s not picking up the oem.tgz package.

I have an Intel 1000GT on order, but was aiming to get ESXi up before it arrived.

So after a few tries this weekend, I seem to be no further forwards. I’ve been using the custom build script for a ESXi oem.tgz, but failing repeatedly. Looks like the issue may be that the oem.tgz is not in the right format for ESXi 4.1 (looks like pci.ids has been moved to /etc/vmware). However, the script does flag this up and I am copying pci.ids across during the build to fix this; once more try, and if it fails I’ll be back to Hyper-V until I get my Intel NIC.


7 Responses to “VMware ESXi 4.1 on Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P”

  1. 1 Wayne January 13, 2011 at 12:03 am


    I ran across you posting about using the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P motherboard with ESXi 4.1, so thought I would give it a try.

    After several false starts I finally got ESXi 4.1 to run, but I’m experiencing very slow network speed, I’m wondering if you experienced the same problem, and if so what steps you took.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. 3 shanefletcher July 22, 2011 at 2:51 am


    Did you have any success with this in the end? I’m trying to install ESXi 4.1 on a GB EP-45 Extreme board, and getting the same vmfs3 error you mentioned.

    I was hoping to find a simple solution, but haven’t had any luck as yet.

  3. 5 Wayne July 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I agree with jzedward, it was the onboard NIC that was the biggest problem. I also had to use a USB mouse and keyboard, and a SATA DVD drive to make ESXi happy. I used the Intel PCI NIC 1000G.

    I was also getting an error screen that flashed by quite fast with RED Font, it turned out to be just a notice, this wasn’t affecting the install or operation.

    Hope this helps,

  4. 6 Jmtyra October 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Delayed response, but thank you for the info. I happen to have this exact board laying around, and wanted to know if it would work for a whitebox ESXi 4.x build. Looks like I’m in luck. 🙂

    Take care,

  1. 1 ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 motherboard likes and dislikes | Tinkertry Trackback on January 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

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