Realtek 8169 NIC in ESXi 5.5 not detected by default – install a VIB

I was upgrading my Whiteboxes this week end. I had them populated with some Intel NICs (no problem with those) and some Realtek NICs. The unsupported Realtek NIC was not recognized after clean install, but could be installed with community supported drivers. Read on if you have the same problem and your Realtek 8169 NIC in ESXi 5.5 not detected.

Update: due to a huge demand for those VIBs I try to put them on my Dropbox and share directly:



A fellow blogger Erik Bussink provides 2 VIBs for Realtek cards directly from in his post, where he explains that you can also “slip stream” those drivers directly to the 5.5 iso. If needed you can use very popular free tool from Andreas Peetz called ESXi Customizer. It’s on my free tools page too -:).

I was trying different things in my lab. Upgrade one of the hosts, and also clean installation the other one,  and with no surprise the Realtek 8169 NIC card wasn’t there. I just needed to install the missing driver. The other two Intel NICs were there. The Realtek card is the one which is built in  the consumer board I’m using in that whitebox (It’s an old Asus Sabertooth x58 which is part of my lab since the beginning). If you have the same problem, you can download the VIBs and follow the steps for installing.

With those VIB(s) you can easily update the 5.5 installation if your NIC is missing (that was my case). There is a single command to install a VIB. I’m gonna detail the steps as I had many questions on the subject how to do it:

01. Upload the VIB to a datastore which is visible by your ESXi 5.5 host (“drobo01″ in my case)

02. Make sure that you enable SSH and connect via Putty

03. Set the acceptance of the host to “community supported”

esxcli software acceptance set –level=CommunitySupported

04. use this command to install the VIB

esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/drobo01/VMware_bootbank_net-r8169_6.011.00-2vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib

05. Reboot your host

That’s it and the Realtek card shows up…

Realtek 8110 in ESXi 5.5

If you want to list all VIBs already installed on your ESXi host use this command:

esxcli software vib list

If you want to get help with the “vib” command use this:

esxcli software vib –help


And as you can see, you can also remove or update a vib with that command.

VMware did strip down many drivers from the ESXi 5.5 ISO, and additionally, they do not provide the Offline bundle for ESXi 5.5 free version.

VMware provides full list of hardware which is “deprecated” in the ESXi 5.5. Here is VMware KB listing all unsupported NICs – Devices deprecated and unsupported in ESXi 5.5.

Hopefully this post help someone who was in the same situation. Good option is to go for Intel based NICs which in most cases are supported. The best option is to check the VMware HCL before buying a NIC, still.

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  1. dmshimself says

    I am so glad I read this as I only have Realtek 8168 and 8169’s in my home lab. A big thanks for highlighting this. I’m guessing that if I went along the upgrade route I’d be stuck as I wouldn’t be able to ssh in to add these. I’d like to avoid a full install, but I guess without buying a supported card, I’d have to slipstream those drivers in and do that?

  2. Armin says

    Hi. Is there a way to install Realtek VIB without network access? for example mount USB flash in esxi console and install it?
    Because it`s possible to install esxi 5.5 on a USB flash with VMware Workstation and boot target machine with this USB flash. It boot fine and there is access to console. Of course a messages shows that there is no network adapter!
    ( When I install esxi directly on this machine the setup detect no compatible network adapter and force me to restart the machine.)
    Of course ESXi-Customizer works fine for me. Just an idea. Thanks.

    • Remi says

      Yes, it is. Once you complete installing ESXi 5.5 on USB with Workstation boot one from that USB as a VM using plpbt.iso. Then add small temp HDD, create datastore, copy VIBs to that datastore and using console execute esxcli commands – that’s it.

  3. Chris says

    Thanks for the article. I bought two of the new Shuttle Haswell builds and the Realtek 8168 doesn’t show up. I have Intel 4 port NIc’s in there, but it would be nice to have an additional one since I only have a PCIe x1 slot left.

  4. Allan says

    I had this same problem and your article guided me onto the right path of resolution.

    My firstborn son will thus be named Vladan!

  5. says

    A PCIe x1 slot is perfect for an Intel Gigabit CT Desktop NIC, which (still) is supported with 5.5. But anyway I prefer to be able to make use of my two R8168/8169 NICs, so thanks Vladan & Erik!
    BTW: adding the drivers to a Kickstart image is even easier than patching the ISO.

  6. iNiko says

    Hi Vladan and thanks for this guide. I’ve been able to enable a realtek 8111e on a ASrock H77 Pro4/MVP on ESXi 5.5 but no traffic flow..
    I’m not able to ping vmk and so on .. any ideas about this ?

  7. Mallick says

    Hi all,
    I booted with ESXi-5.5 on my lenovo laptop. After initialization it gave me blank screen and laptop hanged.
    Any idea ?

    • profileuser says

      Hey Mallick,

      Did you ever find out why your ESXi 5.5 hanged ? was this due to the drivers or something else ?

      I have just installed the realtek 8168 driver has indicated by Vlanda and Erik so far so good on my Lenovo laptop x231, using the Startech dual port of EC2000s NIC. The only issue I’m having right now is researching where where to add static IP address to these new cards?

      Other reviewers reckon the driver is not stable, some says it’s ok. I’ll continue to monitor this and see how long it takes.

      Other alternatives I’m considering is this method also in the link below, usually comes with rj45 adapter. The only downside is carefully having to cellotape the rj45 adapter to the expresscard slot and passing the cable provided through the opeining of the expresscard housing to the mini pcie slot on the motherboard but should do the job being intel chipset.

  8. M. says

    This has worked for me in the past but for some reason I am getting an error this time around.

    esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/ESXi/VMware_bootbank_ne


    No image profile is found on the host or image profile is empty. An image profile is required to install or remove VIBs. To install an image profile, use the esxcli image profile install command.
    Please refer to the log file for more details.

  9. profileuser says

    Apologies, another link for Laptop external PCIe expresscard enclosure is this:

    Update on Startech Dual port with driver Realtek 8168 :

    This card does work successfully on my laptop x230 with the vib driver installed, the only downsides are the other important features like:

    MTU size (Jumbo frames) vSwitch / NIC capped at 4000 as opposed 9000 Startech has this feature up to 9000.

    WOL (Wake On Lan) – Startech dual port has this

    TCP off loading (on some NIC cards) – Startech does not have this yet on their specifications.


    The Realtek 8168 vib driver seems to have limited capabilities, any chance of getting another vib driver ?

  10. profileuser says


    laptop x230 – Lenovo x230 laptop x 4.

    WOL (Wake On Lan) – Startech dual port has this however the driver 8168 does not make this available, ESXi 5.5 cannot be remotely started.

    TCP off loading (on some NIC cards) – Startech does not have this yet on their specifications. driver effect N/A

    Future Research:
    I’m investigating the mini PCIe Intel dual port card for my lenovo laptops x (4) link here:

    It’s supplied with rj45 and cables, I just need to see if I could pass the cable carefully through the back of the expresscard housing opening and continue through the expresscard slot to where the rj45 adapters will be, worth a try as they save money compared to startech dual port of £85.

    Anyone has any ideas of this mini pcie card on their laptops ?

  11. ranjeeth says

    Hi…I tried building esxi 5.5 ,but everytime I used to get network not found error even after customizing the iso. Now I am able to install ESXi 5.1 ,but after every 2 mins host fails to ping management network . Need to reboot again and network goes offline

  12. Nick says

    Hi ,everyone! who can help me?
    Updated links:



    I am can not download it.

  13. Aaron says

    Hi! i try to download : VMware_bootbank_net-r8169_6.011.00-2vmw.510.0.0.799733
    but the link doesn’t work for me :(
    any one can provide to me?

  14. says


    I keep getting the following when trying to use the ESXi-Customizer tool with VMware-VMvisor-Installer-5.5.0.update01-1623387.x86_64.iso and the 2 above VIP files.

    Processing archive: C:\Users\alain\Downloads\VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib

    Error: Can not open file as archive

    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:12.54] !———————————————————————————–
    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:12.55] !– FATAL ERROR: Error unpacking the VIB file!
    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:12.55] !———————————————————————————–
    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:12.56] Run: “C:\Program Files (x86)\ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.2\tools\MsgBox.exe” 266260 “FATAL ERROR:&n Error unpacking the VIB file!&n&nSee log file ‘C:\esxi-customizer\ESXi-Customizer.log’ for details! Do you want to open the log file in notepad now?”
    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:14.93] Cleaning up …
    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:14.94] Run: rmdir /s /q “C:\esxi-customizer\esxicust.tmp”
    [Thu 03/20/2014 14:12:15.27] This is the end.

    I’m using Windows 7 64-bit. Any guidence?

  15. Graham says

    Having some issues installing the file in ssh

    /vmfs/volumes/5318e5b0-c3d6d3b8-fe07-0010181c6884 # esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/VM\ Store/VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib
    The transaction is not supported: VIB VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733 cannot be live installed.
    Please refer to the log file for more details.

    any ideas why its coming up with that ?

  16. Richard says

    Thank you very much for this. Had a working system and bought a new dual port NIC and couldnt get it working until I read your article. Worked first time :)

  17. Randall says

    This was my exact issue and also learned how to check installed software sets and install them with this writie up. I didn’t know ESXi had configurable drivers and assumed you were stuck with what ever driver store the system came with. Thanks!!

  18. Mischa says

    Thank you, this was super helpful. I was able to get the nics on my GA-Z87N-WIFI working in ESXI 5.5. I needed to use the net-alx- & net-e1000e-2.3.2.x86_64 VIBs.

    You may want to mention that you have to also change the Acceptance Levels to Community for the e1000e VIB to work.

  19. Steven says

    Hi everybody, does anyone get the situation which with same hardware except hard drive one for 160GB and the other is 500GB. The former one can detect and install the Realtek 619 ethernet driver successfully but the later one can not. For the later one I re-installed 5.5 again and installed 619 driver first and reboot but not detected and then installed 618 driver later and reboot, failed detected again. I issued vib list command to ensure the 619 driver was installed when system booted. What should I do to correct this situation ?
    Help me please !!

  20. chris says

    This worked for me thanks,
    At first I move the ESXI customizer to the folder where I had the ISO and it kept telling me there were illegal characters in the filename and to rename it. But it wasn’t until I downloaded a fresh version of ESXI Customizer and ran it from where I dL’d it that it worked. Hope this helps someone if they move things around too.

  21. Kelly says

    Thanks so much for this information! I just purchased a TP-LINK TG-3468 NIC and ESXi would not recognize it. With the help of your instructions I was up and running in 10 mins!

  22. Ismail says

    Hi, i am newbie .and i m trying to install ESXi 5.5 and its giving an error : No network Adapters.
    I using GA-Z97N-Wifi mainboard. How can i found my network adapter driver.
    i tried to add some .vib files. with ESXi-Customizer but it dosent work.

    Can you help me.

  23. donk says

    /vmfs/volumes/5457acb4-e1c1ebd6-1e87-00151735e6ca # esxcli software vib install -v VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib
    (‘VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib’, ”, “[Errno 4] IOError: “)
    url = VMware_bootbank_net-r8168_8.013.00-3vmw.510.0.0.799733.vib

    Any idea on why no such file or directory happens?

  24. Mark says

    Hi Vladan,

    I just tried to add this VIB on ESXi 6 but It didn’t work.

    Do you know any workaround for version6?

  25. Berat says

    It seems there is no driver for ESXi 6 yet. Old drivers are obsolete now and no longer working with ESXi 6. I guess we have to wait for new drivers, i’m not sure if they will ever show up though.

  26. FRANK says

    greetings all, I tried the above using a putty session on esxi 6.0, the command returned the the second screen short youhave above, and i typed ‘install’, it brought out a console for upgrading esxi 6.0 to esxi 6.0, and i followed the prompt until it said in encounters an error and reboots, pls am new to linux.


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