VMware ESXi network driver install and upgrade

Recently I have to perform a network driver update in the ESXi host, it is very nice to do this. Here I am updating the Ethernet card driver  for ESXi 5. This process can be used for updating any driver in the ESXi & ESX host.

VMware uses a file package called a VIB (VMware Installation Bundle) as the mechanism for installing or upgrading software packages, drivers on an ESX server.

The file may be installed directly on an ESX server from the command line or we can deploy using VMware update manager. Here I am going to mention about the command line method of doing the upgrade.

Install or update a patch/driver on the host using these esxcli commands:


New Installation

For new installs, you should perform the following steps, Issue the following command (full path to the file must be specified):

esxcli software vib install -v {VIBFILE} or esxcli software vib install -d {OFFLINE_BUNDLE}

Upgrade Installation

The upgrade process is similar to a new install, except the command that should be issued is the following:

esxcli software vib update -v {VIBFILE} or esxcli software vib update -d {OFFLINE_BUNDLE}


  • To install or update a .zip file, use the -d option. To install or update a .vib file use the -v option.
  • The install method has the possibility of overwriting existing drivers. If you are using 3rd party ESXi images, VMware recommends using the update method to prevent an unbootable state.
  • Depending on the certificate used to sign the VIB, you may need to change the host acceptance level. To do this, use the following command: esxcli software acceptance set –level=<level>

Usage: esxcli software acceptance set [cmd options]


Set (Sets the host acceptance level. This controls what VIBs will be allowed on a host.)

Cmd options:

–level=< VMwareCertified / VMwareAccepted / PartnerSupported / CommunitySupported >

(Specifies the acceptance level to set. Should be one of VMwareCertified / VMwareAccepted / PartnerSupported / CommunitySupported.)


1, Download the corresponding driver from the VMware site, like given below.



2, Extract the nx_nic-esx50-5.0.619-743299.zip file and there you can see a file net-nx-nic-5.0.619-3vmw.500.0.0.472560.x86_64.vib which contains the Driver. And there is a ZIP file nx_nic-esx50-5.0.619-offline_bundle-743299.zip which is an offline bundle, this also contains the driver and we can also use this for the driver installation.


3, Migrate or power off the virtual machines running on the host and put the host into maintenance mode. The host can be put into maintenance mode from the command line with:

ESXi: # vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_enter

ESX: # vimsh -n -e hostsvc/maintenance_mode_enter

Exit maintenance mode using the vimsh or vim-cmd command

ESXi: # vim-cmd /hostsvc/maintenance_mode_exit

ESX: # vimsh -n -e /hostsvc/maintenance_mode_exit

4, Upload the VIB file or offline bundle to the ESXi location /tmp via SCP


5, Then open SSH shell for ESxi and go to the directory and check for the uploaded file.

cd /tmp


6, To install the Driver give the command esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/net-nx-nic-5.0.619-3vmw.500.0.0.472560.x86_64.vib


To upgrade the drivers – esxcli software vib update -d /tmp/nx_nic-esx50-5.0.619-offline_bundle-743299.zip


7, Verify that the VIBs are installed on your ESXi host:
# esxcli software vib list


8, Then reboot the ESXi host.


if you didn’t give full path of the VIB file it will show the below error.


If the VIB is already installed, you can see the below;


To remove a VIB, search the installed VIB by the command esxcli software vib list


Once we find the correct VIB name give the command esxcli software vib remove -n net-nx-nic


And reboot the ESXi server.

About GK_RAJ

An enthusiastic IT person, with an intense passion towards Datacenter technologies. I am a VMware vExpert Title holder and working as a Technical Consultant, in Qatar. I am exposed to VMware vSphere, Storage, Bladecenters, Datacenter operations, Symantec Backup, Deduplication technologies and carry rich and diversified experience in these domains. I specialize in Designing & Consulting on VMware VSphere, the integration of Storage and Network Stacks to VSphere. With my experience, I help Organizations/Enterprises to achieve their CAPEX & OPEX savings, develop DR and BCP strategies, Consolidation services with Virtualization using VSphere, and prepare them to move to Cloud. In the meantime, I would like to share my knowledge and do a good contribution to the community. I am an Indian citizen, and have a Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication. I have certified in VCAP5-DCD, VCP-Cloud, VCP 4 & 5, MCITP, MCSE.

Posted on February 17, 2013, in ESX, ESXi, VMware. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. thank you for your post, very helpful

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