Tuesday, February 23, 2016

VMware ESXi host build notes: install image, HCL, drivers, firmware - choosing an ESXi installation image

VMware provides an ESXi ISO that has all VMware Inbox drivers. However, if you want to get the most added value from your servers. you will normally use the Vendor provided ESXi installation image. These images have the latest drivers plus vendor-specific VIBs.

Of particular importance in the following lists is the Vendor and the Acceptance Level. The VMware image lists VMware as the vendor for all the VIBs, and always shows Acceptance Level to be VMwareCertified. The Dell image shows the actual company (even though Dell must validate the driver with VMware), and may show PartnerSupported as the Acceptance Level.

Here's the installed vib output from two otherwise identical Dell R730 servers. One was installed with the VMware ISO and the other with the Dell ISO. I apologize in advance for including the full text here, and especially in such a small font, but this will allow you to copy the files and do your own analysis.


Name                           Version                                Vendor  Acceptance Level  Install Date
-----------------------------  -------------------------------------  ------  ----------------  ------------
ata-pata-amd                   0.3.10-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820            VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-atiixp                0.4.6-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-cmd64x                0.2.5-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-hpt3x2n               0.3.4-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-pdc2027x              1.0-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-serverworks           0.4.3-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-sil680                0.4.8-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ata-pata-via                   0.3.3-2vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
block-cciss                    3.6.14-10vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ehci-ehci-hcd                  1.0-3vmw.550.3.78.3248547              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
elxnet                         10.2.309.6v-1vmw.550.3.68.3029944      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
esx-base                       5.5.0-3.78.3248547                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
esx-dvfilter-generic-fastpath  5.5.0-0.0.1331820                      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
esx-tboot                      5.5.0-2.33.2068190                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
esx-xlibs                      5.5.0-0.0.1331820                      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
esx-xserver                    5.5.0-0.0.1331820                      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ima-qla4xxx                    2.01.31-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ipmi-ipmi-devintf              39.1-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ipmi-ipmi-msghandler           39.1-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ipmi-ipmi-si-drv               39.1-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
lpfc                         VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
lsi-mr3                    VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
lsi-msgpt3                VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
misc-cnic-register             1.72.1.v50.1i-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
misc-drivers                   5.5.0-3.78.3248547                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
mtip32xx-native                3.3.4-1vmw.550.1.15.1623387            VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-be2net                   VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-bnx2                       2.2.3d.v55.2-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-bnx2x                      1.72.56.v55.2-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-cnic                       1.72.52.v55.1-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-e1000                       VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-e1000e                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-enic                      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-forcedeth                  0.61-2vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-igb                      VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-ixgbe              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-mlx4-core                   VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-mlx4-en                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-nx-nic                     5.0.621-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-tg3                        3.123c.v55.5-1vmw.550.2.33.2068190     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
net-vmxnet3                    VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
ohci-usb-ohci                  1.0-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
qlnativefc                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
rste                        VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-ahci                      3.0-22vmw.550.3.68.3029944             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-ata-piix                  2.12-10vmw.550.2.33.2068190            VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-sata-nv                   3.5-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-sata-promise              2.12-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-sata-sil24                1.1-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-sata-sil                  2.3-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
sata-sata-svw                  2.3-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-aacraid                    VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-adp94xx                   VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-aic79xx                   3.1-5vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-bnx2fc                    1.72.53.v55.1-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-bnx2i                     2.72.11.v55.4-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-fnic                       VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-hpsa                      5.5.0-44vmw.550.0.0.1331820            VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-ips                       7.12.05-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-lpfc820                  VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-megaraid-mbox             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-megaraid-sas              5.34-9vmw.550.3.68.3029944             VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-megaraid2                 2.00.4-9vmw.550.0.0.1331820            VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-mpt2sas               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-mptsas                 VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-mptspi                 VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-qla2xxx                   902.k1.1-12vmw.550.3.68.3029944        VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
scsi-qla4xxx                  VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
uhci-usb-uhci                  1.0-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  
vr2c-firewall                            VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-22  
xhci-xhci                      1.0-3vmw.550.3.78.3248547              VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  

tools-light                    5.5.0-3.78.3248547                     VMware  VMwareCertified   2016-01-15  


Name                           Version                                Vendor    Acceptance Level  Install Date
-----------------------------  -------------------------------------  --------  ----------------  ------------
scsi-mpt2sas           Avago     VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-mpt3sas                Avago     VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-tg3                        3.137l.v55.1-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820      Broadcom  VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
dell-configuration-vib         5.5-3A04                               Dell      PartnerSupported  2016-01-14  
elxnet                       Emulex    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ima-be2iscsi                 Emulex    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
lpfc                         Emulex    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-be2iscsi                Emulex    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-i40e                       1.3.38-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820            Intel     VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-igb                        5.3.1-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820             Intel     VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-ixgbe                       Intel     VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-megaraid-perc9            6.902.73.00-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820       LSI       VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-megaraid-sas              06.805.56.00-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820      LSI       VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
mtip32xx-native                3.9.4-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820             MICRON    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-mlx4-core                   Mellanox  VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-mlx4-en                     Mellanox  VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ima-qla4xxx                    500.2.01.31-1vmw.0.3.100400            QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
misc-cnic-register             1.712.10.v55.2-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820    QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-bnx2                       2.2.5g.v55.2-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820      QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-bnx2x                      2.712.10.v55.4-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820    QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-cnic                       2.712.10.v55.4-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820    QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-qlcnic                     5.5.190-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820           QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-qlge                       QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
qlnativefc                     QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-bnx2fc                    1.712.10.v55.2-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820    QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-bnx2i                     2.712.10.v55.4-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820    QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-qla4xxx                   644.55.36.0-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820       QLogic    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-amd                   0.3.10-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820            VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-atiixp                0.4.6-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-cmd64x                0.2.5-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-hpt3x2n               0.3.4-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-pdc2027x              1.0-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-serverworks           0.4.3-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-sil680                0.4.8-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ata-pata-via                   0.3.3-2vmw.550.0.0.1331820             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
block-cciss                    3.6.14-10vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ehci-ehci-hcd                  1.0-3vmw.550.3.78.3248547              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
esx-base                       5.5.0-3.78.3248547                     VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
esx-dvfilter-generic-fastpath  5.5.0-0.0.1331820                      VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
esx-tboot                      5.5.0-2.33.2068190                     VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
esx-xlibs                      5.5.0-0.0.1331820                      VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
esx-xserver                    5.5.0-0.0.1331820                      VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ipmi-ipmi-devintf              39.1-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ipmi-ipmi-msghandler           39.1-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ipmi-ipmi-si-drv               39.1-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
misc-drivers                   5.5.0-3.78.3248547                     VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-be2net                   VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-e1000                       VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-e1000e                     VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-enic                      VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-forcedeth                  0.61-2vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-nx-nic                     5.0.621-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
net-vmxnet3                    VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
nvme                           VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
ohci-usb-ohci                  1.0-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
rste                        VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-ahci                      3.0-22vmw.550.3.68.3029944             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-ata-piix                  2.12-10vmw.550.2.33.2068190            VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-sata-nv                   3.5-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-sata-promise              2.12-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-sata-sil24                1.1-1vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-sata-sil                  2.3-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
sata-sata-svw                  2.3-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-aacraid                    VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-adp94xx                   VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-aic79xx                   3.1-5vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-fnic                       VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-hpsa                      5.5.0-44vmw.550.0.0.1331820            VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-ips                       7.12.05-4vmw.550.0.0.1331820           VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-lpfc820                  VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-megaraid-mbox             VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-megaraid2                 2.00.4-9vmw.550.0.0.1331820            VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-mptsas                 VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-mptspi                 VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
scsi-qla2xxx                   902.k1.1-12vmw.550.3.68.3029944        VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
uhci-usb-uhci                  1.0-3vmw.550.0.0.1331820               VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  
vr2c-firewall                            VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-26  
xhci-xhci                      1.0-3vmw.550.3.78.3248547              VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  

tools-light                    5.5.0-3.78.3248547                     VMware    VMwareCertified   2016-01-14  

In my case, I save these in text files and finally use Notepad++ to compare them. Note that the Dell output is not as sorted as the VMware one, so you want to do that first to get better results; also, be mindful that the install date may throw a lot of "different lines". I actually remove this column before comparing.

The result of the Compare (hiding the lines that are the same) shows us how different the images are:

We can see different driver versions, some packages which were dropped (in red) and others that were added (in green).

From our previous post, these are our main differences between similar packages (normally driver version differences)

 VMware has
 Dell has

 VMware has
 Dell has 5.3.1-1OEM.550.0.0.1331820

So be mindful of the image you choose and how it affects your HCL driver/firmware combinations, and your acceptance level.

If you want to find out the image that was used to install a host you can check through GUI 

or with this command:

# esxcli software profile get
(Updated) Dell-ESXi-5.5U3-3248547-A04

# esxcli software profile get

(Updated) ESXi-5.5.0-20151204001-standard

I find using the Vendor installation image a better option, as long as you are careful of the HCL / firmware implications. Note, however, that sometimes useful software such as Dell OpenManage software isn't included. The vendors normally provide a separate vib you can install to add that functionality.

This concludes this three part series on keeping host build notes, and guaranteeing you are using a supported configuration.

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