How to install VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 on a MacBook Pro

Installing VMware ESXi on a laptop might seem like an insane thing to do, but it's usefull for testing and demonstration purposes. And this guide will show you how to install it on a MacBook Pro.

Hardware requirements

The instructions coming up, should work on most modern Mac systems with a CPU that has hardware assisted virtualization. The steps that follow have been tested on a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, 16 GB RAM running Mojave).

The reason why you need a CPU with hardware assisted virtualization, is because we’ll be using VMware Fusion* to run nested virtualization on a Mac.

Why VMware Fusion?

VMware Fusion allows you to pass the hardware assisted virtualization feature of the CPU to a running virtual machine. This is required when running hypervisors like ESXi or KVM inside a VM.

So for this tutorial we’ll be using VMware Fusion 11.5 (Standard)*.

Download VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 ISO

Head over to the VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 download page and click the Download Now button to get the ISO.

Screenshot of the VMware ESXi 6.7 download page

Creating a VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 virtual machine with VMware Fusion

Open VMware Fusion* and then click on the + icon in the toolbar.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 1

Click New…

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 2

Select Create a custom virtual machine and then click Continue.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 3

Select VMware ESX then VMware ESXi 6.x and then Continue.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 4

Leave the firmware type as UEFI and then click Continue.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 5

Click Continue to create a 40 GB virtual disk.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 6

Click the Customize Settings button so that we can attach the ISO.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 7

You will be asked to save the virtual machine. Give it a name and then click Save.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 8

Once the VM is saved, the settings screen will load. Click on CD/DVD (IDE).

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 9

Click on the dropdown and select the Choose a disc or disc image… option.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 10

Browse to the VMware ESXi ISO that you downloaded and then click Open.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 11

Tick the Connect CD/DVD Drive option and then close the settings window.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 12

We are now ready to install VMWare ESXi on the virtual machine.

Installing VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 on a VMware Fusion virtual machine

Click the play icon to start the ESXi virtual machine we created in the previous step and wait for the VMware ESXi hypervisor to load.

Screenshot of creating an ESXi VM with VMware Fusion - Step 13

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 1

Press Enter at the welcome screen.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 2

Press F11 to accept the EULA and continue the installation. You might not be able to use the FN key to get F11 inside a virtual machine on the Mac.

You can send F11 to the virtual machine by clicking Virtual Machine, Send Key and then clicking on F11.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 3

Choose the disk you want to install ESXi on and then press Enter.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 4

Select your keyboard layout and then press Enter.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 5

Enter a password for the root user and then press Enter.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 6

Send the F11 key to the virtual machine again to confirm and finish the installation.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 7

Press Enter to reboot the virtual machine and load ESi for the first time.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 8

ESXi 6.7 should now be installed and ready to configure.

Screenshot of installing ESXi on VMware Fusion VM - Step 9

Configuring the ESXi management network

As you can see from the image in the previous step, the management IP address of my ESXi host is 0.0.0.0. This is because I have the network adapter connected to a VMware Fusion network that has DHCP disabled.

If your host doesn’t have an IP, you’ll need to configure it using the steps coming up. If you do have an IP that was assigned via DHCP, I’d suggest you change it to a static IP so that you know it won’t change when the host reboots.

To configure the network press F2 and then login with your root password.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 1

Select Configure Management Network and then press Enter.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 2

Select IPv4 Configuration and then press Enter.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 3

Change the IP type to static by highlighting the Set static IPv4 address and network configuration and then pressing Space.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 4

Type in the IP address, subnet mask and default gateway then press Enter.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 5

Select the DNS Configuration and then press Enter.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 6

Select Use the following DNS server addresses and hostname by pressing Space. Type in the gateway IP in the Primary DNS Server box and the name of the host in the hostname box and then press Enter.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 7

Press ESC to exit the network configuration screen. You’ll then be asked to confirm the changes by pressing Y.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 8

Press ESC again to exit settings and you should now see the IP address we can use to manage the host.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 9

We can test the connection from the host to the ESXi virtual machine works by typing the address in a web browser.

Screenshot of configuring the ESXi management network via console - Step 10

Final thoughts

VMware Fusion* is a powerful piece of software that lets you do more with your Mac by giving you the ability to run multiple kinds of operating systems like Windows, Linux and even ESXi as demonstrated in this guide.

We showed how easy it was to create a VMware vSphere ESXi virtual machine and have the OS installed in very little time.

It’s easy to get going with the basics of ESXi because its quite intuitive, however there are some really powerful features and advanced concepts that you can learn by reading Mastering VMware vSphere 6.7*