WN Blog 030 – USB Network Adapter on VMware ESXi (tested on NUC 10)

Welcome to our latest blog!

If you’re like me and want to have most compact, cold, silent and energy efficient ESXi server at home, you probably looked at Intel NUC more than once 😉

I’m now upgrading (or rather downgrading?) my lovely 2U ESXi that built myself 2 years ago. It is still powerful, but I have no space for it. I will tell you why.

My server room is located under the stairs. It was filled with equipment – Cisco FTD 5506x firewall, Cisco 3560cx switch, Cisco WLC3504, Cisco 9120, 9130, 3x 3702 APs, 2U ESXi server and UPS battery ensuring my NFS storage is not corrupted in the event of a power cut.

All that boxes generated so much heat, that I have decided to make space for clothes airer – my washing was dry just 2-3 hours after putting it inside the server room 🙂 This space could also be used as sauna. 

I then decided to simplify my home network and lab. Moved NAS to the cloud, virtualised firewall (chosen Untangle – amazingly sleek), mounted APs properly outside of the server room and switched to Mist.

Now I’m down to just an ESXi server, 1 small, passive, lovely Juniper EX2300-C-12P switch (that can be managed from Mist cloud!) and 2x Mist APs – AP41 and AP43. No more controllers, batteries, firewalls.

Do you see what my problem is?

Washing don’t dry out quickly anymore, as it’s cold in the server room!

To fix this, I will put a dehumidifier in that room. But I need more space to do it. This is why I wanted to switch to micro server (NUC) – so I can replace the rack with massive ESXi server with dehumidifier.

I ordered 10th Gen Intel NUC with 64GB of RAM and 2TB SSD – it’s more than enough to run my production and lab networks. But since I no longer have a physical firewall, I encountered a challenge – NUC has only one wired NIC card. I now needed two – one leg connected to BT fibre converter (WAN PPPoE) and one leg connected to the switch (LAN). 

After putting ESXi 7.0 on my NUC (it was quite challenging – NUC Intel wired NIC is not supported by ESXi and it required adding Intel NIC drivers to the ESXi image – thank you Bernhard @WiFi_Burns for your help!), I realised that my USB NICs are not recognised when connected.

Additional drivers are required to make it work.

Since we WiFi nerds don’t use VMware excessively, I personally found instructions available from VMware quite confusing and difficult to follow, so I’ve decided to put all steps needed to make external USB network adapters work on Intel NUC running ESXi.

Steps required to use USB Network Adapter on VMware ESXi (tested on NUC 10)

1. Download .zip file from here, making sure you get the correct version for your ESXi (currently 6.5, 6.7 or 7.0 are supported)

Image

2. Make sure Safari (assuming you’re using Safari) doesn’t automatically unzip the downloaded file (Safari > Preferences > General > untick ‘Open “safe” files after downloading’)

General 
Tabs 
General 
AutoFill Passwords Search Security Privacy Websites Extensions Advanced 
Safari opens with: 
New windows open with: 
New tabs open with: 
Homepage: 
Remove history items: 
Favourites shows: 
Top Sites shows: 
windows from last session 
Favourites 
Favourites 
http://google.co.uk/ 
Set to Current Page 
one year 
Favourites 
24 sites

3. Upload .zip to ESXi datastore

vrnvvare 
Navigator 
Host 
Manage 
Monitor 
ESXi 
WN-ESXi7.O - Storage 
Datastores Adapters 
New datastore 
Name 
datastorel 
Devices 
Persistent Memory 
Register a VM Datastore browser 
Virtual Machines 
• Storage 
¯ datastorel 
Monitor 
More 
Drive Type 
Capacity 
Provisioned 
Create directory 
roota I ( 
Free 
I Refresh 
Download 
Upload 
datastorel 
Delete Move Copy 
.sdd.sf

4. Enable SSH (Web Client > Host > Manage > Services > SSH > Start)

vmware• ESXi- 
O The service TSM-SSH was successfully started 
- dismiss 
Hardware 
Hos 
Monitor 
5.] Virtual Machines 
Storage 
datastorel 
Monitor 
More storagem 
Networking 
System 
Sta 
Name 
attestd 
DCUI 
lbtd 
ntpd 
Ljcensjng 
Packages 
ces 
Stop Restart I 
e Refresh 
I Actions 
Description 
attestd 
Direct Console UI 
Load-Based Teaming Daemon 
Active Directory Service 
NTP Daemon 
PC,'SC Smart Card Daemon 
PTP Daemon 
CIM Server 
SNMP Server 
ESXi Shell 
v 
sfcbd-watchdog 
snmpd 
Security & users 
Status 
Stopped 
Running 
Stopped 
Running 
Stopped 
Stopped 
Stopped 
Stopped 
Stopped 
Stopped 
Source 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system 
Base system

5. SSH to the ESXi terminal with your favourite client or straight from the Web Client (Host > Actions > SSH Console)

vmware 
Navigator 
Host 
Monitor 
ESXü 
WN-ESXi7.O 
6) Get vCenterS«ver 1 CreateJRegisterVM I o Shutdown • Reboot I Refresh 
WN-ESXi7.O 
Version: 
V'•tual Macthes 
Storage 
datastorel 
Monitor 
More storage„. 
Networking 
7.0.0 (Build 15843807) 
Maintenance Mode (not connected to any Center Server) 
0.03 days 
SSH is on this host. You should disable SSH unless it is necessary for adrmi 
You are 
using ESXi in evaluation mode. This license will expire in 60

6. Find a location of a .zip package on ESXi (use find / -name “*.zip” command)

ssh root@10.10.10.5 — -ssh -l root 10.10.10.5 — 123x4 
[Password: 
The time and date of this login have been sent to the system logs. 
WARNING: 
All commands run on the ESXi shell are logged and may be included in 
support bundles. Do not provide passwords directly on the command line. 
Most tools can prompt for secrets or accept them from standard input. 
VMware offers supported, powerful system administration tools. 
Please 
see www.vmware.com/go/sysadmintools for details. 
The Shell can be disabled by an administrative user. See the 
vSphere Security documentation for more information. 
[(root@WN-ESXi7:-] 
[ [ root@WN 
root@WN 
[[root@WN 
-ESXi7:-] 
-ESXi7:-] 
-ESXi7:-]

7. Run esxcli software vib install -d /path/to/the offline bundle 

find / —name zip" 
/usr/lib/vmware/esxupdate/systemstorage . zip 
/vmfs/v01umes/Seeeef72-b3de1fØb-16f7-1c697a624d1c/ESXi6SØ-VYKUSB-Nrc-FLING-332681Ø2-off1ine_t 
/vmfs/v01umes/5eeeef72-b3dØ1fØb-16f7-1c697a624d1c/ESXi7eØ-VMKUSB-NIC-FLING-34491Ø22-componen1 
root@WN-ESXi7:- 
esxc 
so tware VI 
nsta 
vm s vo umes Seeee 72 3 el e 16 7-1c697at

8. Reboot your ESXi with a new USB NIC connected (Web Client > Host > Reboot)

vmware ESXü 
Navigator 
Manage 
Monitor 
6] Wtual Machhes 
Storage 
WN-ESXi7.O 
G) Get vCenterServer I b Create/Register VM I 
I Refresh I 
WN-ESXi7.O 
Version: 
Uptime: 
7-0.0 (Build 15843807) 
Maintenance Mode (not connected to any Center Server) 
0.03 days

That’s it!

Your external network adapters should now be natively supported in ESXi 6.5, 6.7 or 7.0 run on 10th Generation Intel NUC.

I have tried two different adapters, Belkin F2CU040btBLK USB-C and some very old USB-A 3.0 Adata one – both worked perfectly. I left Belkin plugged in as it’s much newer and 2 weeks after switching to NUC I can confirm that I’ve not had a single network performance issue. My USB-C wired NIC is happily used as a WAN interface by Untangle Firewall VM. Happy days!

Lastly, if you need Intel NUC 10th Gen ESXi image without having PhD in VMware PowerCLI and Google, give us a shout and we will share the image, hopefully saving you some time!

Tons of love,

WiFi Ninjas x

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