Custom ESXi 5 ISO for UCS, Nexus 1000v and PowerPath VE

With ESXi 5 VMware made it very easy to create custom installation ISOs. I have been doing a lot of upgrades from ESXi 4.1 in our customer sites that have UCS, Nexus 1000v and PowerPath VE so I decided to create a custom ISO that includes the current UCS enic/fnic drivers and Nexus 1000v/PowerPath VE.

When I first started doing these upgrades I would remove the host from the Nexus 1000v VDS, uninstall Nexus 1000v VEM and uninstall PowerPath VE. After upgrading/rebuilding the host I would then use VUM to install Nexus 1000v VEM add it back to the VDS and then install PowerPath VE.

With the custom ISO I can upgrade the host with VUM without having to uninstall/reinstall or add/remove from the VDS.

Here are the steps to create a custom ISO:

  1. PowerShell 2.0 is required, this is already on Windows 7/Windows 2008 R2
  2. Download vSphere PowerCLI 5 –
  3. Download the latest UCS FNIC/ENIC drivers and extract the offline bundle zips from them
    1. Cisco VIC Ethernet ENIC – 
    2. Cisco VIC HBA FNIC –
  4. Download PowerPath VE 5.7 from EMC Powerlink and extract the install zip
  5. Download Nexus 1000v zip and extract it – (requires a Cisco CCO Login)
  6. Create a new folder called esxi off the root of c: and place these files into the new directory
    • The following screenshot is a listing of what files should be in the directory 


  7. Open the VMware vSphere PowerCLI (32-Bit) shortcut from the Start Menu.
  8. Change to the new directory cd \esxi
  9. Run this command to add VMware’s online software depot
  10. Run this command to get a list of all the ESXi 5 images
    • Get-EsxImageProfile | Sort-Object “ModifiedTime” -Descending | format-table -property Name,CreationTime 


    • Copy the image name of the most recent one that has tools
  11. Run these commands to add the drivers and modules to the depot:
    • Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\
    • Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\
    • Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\
    • Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\
  12. Run this command to make a copy of the most recent image, the name you choose for the clone can be anything.
    • New-EsximageProfile -cloneprofile ESXi-5.0.0-20120404001-standard -name “ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001”
  13. Add the UCS drivers, Nexus 1000v VEM and PowerPath VE packages to the new image
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 *fnic
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 net-enic
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 -SoftwarePackage cisco-vem-v140-esx
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 -SoftwarePackage powerpath.lib.esx
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 -SoftwarePackage powerpath.cim.esx
    • Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 -SoftwarePackage powerpath.plugin.esx
  14. Compare the new image with the standard default to verify the new drivers and modules are present
    • Compare-Esximageprofile -comparisonprofile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 -ReferenceProfile ESXi-5.0.0-20120404001-standard
  15. Create the new ISO
    • Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001 -ExportToIso -FilePath c:\esxi\ESXi-5.1-UCS-N1KV1.5-PPVE5.7-20120404001.iso






14 thoughts on “Custom ESXi 5 ISO for UCS, Nexus 1000v and PowerPath VE

  1. Just finished creating my custom iso, all the same except that we don’t use PowerPathVE. Great directions, it went just as you outlined. Thanks!

  2. For the N1000v, I take it you must first update/upgrade it to the latest version while still on 4.1, then include the same esxi 5 vem version in your ISO?

  3. No, I did not upgrade the VEM on the 4.1 hosts. I had VUM remove it for me, there is a check box in the VUM wizard that when checked will remove unsupported third-party modules.

  4. I guess I wasn’t clear – Won’t you run into an issue if the existing VSM running for 4.1 is a different version then the VEM you deploy with 5? That is, if my ESX 4.1 deployement is running 4.0(4) SV1(3d) (which is not supported in 5), wouldn’t I need to get my 4.1 deployment up to a n1000v version that supports both 4.1 and 5 e.g. 4.2(1)SV1(4b) or higher, then use your process?

  5. If you are on VSM 1.4/1.4a/b it is supported with vSphere 5, I would upgrade to 1.5 but it isn’t required. The VEM that you install for 5 would be 1.4a. If you are on VSM 1.3 I would upgrade to 1.4a/b and then 1.5. VSM 1.3 is not supported in vSphere 5.

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  7. Hi Jeremy
    your link for enic & fnic driver points to vmware.
    have you seen issue with older driver for cisco ucs.
    we have ucs vers 1.4(y) & drivers are older.

  8. I haven’t seen any specific issues using the stock drivers that come on the ESXi ISO. The links point to VMware because they provide the supported drivers for their OS. Cisco gives them to VMware and then they test and validate them

  9. Thanks Jeremy
    I am seeing some slowness with esxi 5.0 where my rdp to servers or trying to view event log is slow .I do not see any visible Bad Performance data on vpshere 5.0 at vm or esxi level.

  10. hi,
    i’m getting an error while trying to add the n1000v vib:
    Add-EsxSoftwarePackage : VIB Cisco_bootbank_cisco-vem-v140-esx_4.
    0.1 requires esx-base << 5.1.0, but the requirement cannot be satisfied within
    the ImageProfile. However, additional VIB(s) VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-0.4
    .504890, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-0.7.515841, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.
    0.0-0.3.474610, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.21.822948, VMware_bootbank_esx
    -base_5.0.0-1.13.702118, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.11.623860, VMware_boo
    tbank_esx-base_5.0.0-2.26.914586, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-2.29.1022489,
    VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.17.764879, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.18
    .768111, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.25.912577, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5
    .0.0-2.32.1024429, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.22.821926, VMware_bootbank_
    esx-base_5.0.0-0.0.469512, VMware_bootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-0.10.608089, VMware_b
    ootbank_esx-base_5.0.0-1.16.721882 from depot can satisfy this requirement.
    At line:1 char:24

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