Using Vmware image builder

I know this is not new, but it does worth mentioning and i did worked with it lately, so why not?

Lets start, Image builder allows you to create custom made iso’s for installing and upgrading ESXi servers. Its a several PowerCLI cmdlets.

The benefits are that it limits the number of reboot you have to go through when upgrading, not to mention scenarios like Auto Deploy or the use of Nexus 1000v that you have to build your ISO file. Basically it lets you take an ISO and inject to it (or remove) and package (VIB) that you want.

It involves several phases:

1. Importing a depot. A depot can be a bundle of all vibs that are necessary that install ESXi, that you can download for VMware(or partner) web site, or it can be a specific patch, driver, extension. They all come in a form of zip file.

2. Creating an image profile. Well, actually to make it easy its better to just clone a profile.

3. Adding packages (vib’s) to the image profile.

4. Exporting the image profile to an ISO.

Lets get to business,

Step 1, the simplest way is to just download the depot that we are interested in, and putting it in a directory.

Make sure you use the latest release of PowerCLI, cause they have been known bugs with older releases.

Than just add the depot:


You can add as many depots as you like, depends on the scenario. For example i added the cisco depot and the Nexus 1000v depot.

By Issuing the command: Get-esxsoftwaredepot you will see all the depots you have added.

Another command is get-esxsoftwarepackage that returns all the packages that are in the depots.

The last but very important command is get-esximageprofile , this command will return all the profiles that are in the depot.

Usually, when using a full installation of a depot the vendor (vmware or a partner) will create several profiles, for example a standard one and one without tools.

Step 2, We choose the profile that we want to use and just clone it so we can work on it later:

New-esximageprofile -cloneprofile nameoftheprofiletoclone -name newprofilename -vendor yourname

Step 3, now we are going to add the packages we need to the new profile we created:

add-esxsoftwarepackage -softwarepackage packagetoadd -imageprofile profilewecreated

Step 4, Exporting the profile to iso file:

Export-esximageprofile -imageprofile profilenametoexport -filepath filename -exporttoiso


That is it, you now have an iso file that you can use with Update manager , Auto Deploy or just install ESXi.

One thing to remember is, image builder does offer some kind of validation, for example when adding duplicate packages it automatically replaces the older with the new package, but it will not validate that you put in all the packages that are needed (well it cant guess). So make sure you test your iso’s before using them in production.

I hope someone can use it.

There you go, my first blog post.



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