Installing VMware ESXi on a laptop might seem like an insane thing to do, but it’s useful for testing and demonstration purposes. This guide will show you how to install it on a MacBook Pro.
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).
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.
Note: VMware ESXi is free when using only the basic features, and when you first install it, you get to try all the advanced features for 60 days.
Creating a VMware vSphere ESXi 6.7 virtual machine with VMware Fusion
Open VMware Fusion* and then click on the + icon in the toolbar.
Select Create a custom virtual machine and then click Continue.
Select VMware ESX then VMware ESXi 6.x and then Continue.
Leave the firmware type as UEFI and then click Continue.
Click Continue to create a 40 GB virtual disk.
Click the Customize Settings button so that we can attach the ISO.
You will be asked to save the virtual machine. Give it a name and then click Save.
Once the VM is saved, the settings screen will load. Click on CD/DVD (IDE).
Click on the dropdown and select the Choose a disc or disc image… option.
Browse to the VMware ESXi ISO that you downloaded and then click Open.
Tick the Connect CD/DVD Drive option and then close the settings window.
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.
Press Enter at the welcome screen.
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.
Tip: You can remove the keyboard focus from the virtual machine by pressing Control + Command on a Mac.
Choose the disk you want to install ESXi on and then press Enter.
Select your keyboard layout and then press Enter.
Enter a password for the root user and then press Enter.
Send the F11 key to the virtual machine again to confirm and finish the installation.
Press Enter to reboot the virtual machine and load ESi for the first time.
ESXi 6.7 should now be installed and ready to configure.
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.
Select Configure Management Network and then press Enter.
Select IPv4 Configuration and then press Enter.
Change the IP type to static by highlighting the Set static IPv4 address and network configuration and then pressing Space.
Type in the IP address, subnet mask and default gateway then press Enter.
Tip: You can find out the gateway by running
ifconfig at the terminal and by adding 1 to the inet address of the vmnet8 interface. For example, mine is 10.1.1.1 so the gateway is 10.1.1.2. If you’re using DHCP, you can find out what part of the range you can use for static IP addresses in this tutorial.
You may notice my network address is different to yours. That’s because I’ve changed it and disabled DHCP by editing the
/Library/Preferences/VMware Fusion/networking config file and restarting VMware Fusion.
Select the DNS Configuration and then press Enter.
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.
Press ESC to exit the network configuration screen. You’ll then be asked to confirm the changes by pressing Y.
Press ESC again to exit settings and you should now see the IP address we can use to manage the host.
We can test the connection from the host to the ESXi virtual machine works by typing the address in a web browser.
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.
David Miller is a seasoned tech aficionado with a profound expertise in NGINX and Ubuntu. With a career spanning over a decade, David has honed his skills in optimizing web servers and enhancing server performance to perfection. His deep-rooted passion for open-source technologies has led him to become a go-to resource in the field. Whether it’s crafting intricate NGINX configurations or troubleshooting complex Ubuntu server issues, David’s problem-solving prowess shines through.