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Install ESXi 5.1/5.5/6.0 into Mac Mini 3.1 (Later 2009)

john 0

Last updated on August 9, 2019

It is not new to install ESXi on Mac Mini for technical person . There are lots of benefits to do this. I have been used ESXi 5.5/6 on my Mac Mini 5.1 for many years now. Just recently I have got two Mac Mini 3.1  to play at my home and I was wondering if it is possible to get ESXi on them.

I have two types of Mac Mini 3.1, one is regular with one hard drive and one optical drive. Another Mac Mini 3.1 is server version. There is no optical drive but two hard drive installed.

The result is surprising and working very well although I had a small hiccup on storage adapter. First thing I did is to upgrade the RAM from 4G to 8G which is maximum you can have. You can not start installing process if you only have 4G RAM. I did not try 16G RAM since no one succeed that by googled online. It is enough to get me run 2-3 VMs anyway.

Here is all steps I took to get this Mac Mini 3.1 server working with ESXi 5.1/5.5/6. Yes, I did try all of those three versions.

(TBC)

1. Use Rufus to get bootable ESXi USB disk

note:ESXi can be downloaded and licensed from https://my.vmware.com/en/group/vmware/evalcenter?p=free-esxi6

2. Boot Mac Mini from USB disk and install ESXi on USB

3. Configure your Mac Mini to boot USB permanently

4. Configure ESXi with Static IP / DNS/ Gateway and Enable SSH/shell Access

5. Connect ESXi through VMWare vSphere Client

6. Connect ESXi through SSH. Update Storage Adapter PCI ID File
ESXi is quite picky on SATA controllers. Generic AHCI driver in ESXi is not support Mac Mini 3.1.  Here are some words from from his post “How to make your unsupported SATA AHCI Controller work with ESXi 5.5 and 6.0”:

I always thought that whenever an ESXi driver is loaded then it would detect and configure any PCI devices that it supports, but the ahci driver of ESXi 5.5 behaves differently: Even if manually loaded (with vmkload_mod ahci) it will only configure the devices that are explicitly listed with their PCI IDs in its map file (/etc/vmware/driver.map.d/ahci.map).


But once you realize this it is easy to add support for other SATA AHCI controllers that are not listed there. You just need to create another map file with the PCI IDs of these devices and a reference to the ahci driver. I was able to verify this method with the help of someone who tried to get his ASMedia ASM1062 Controller (PCI ID 1b21:0612) working with ESXi 5.5. If you have the same controller then you can add support for it by running the following commands in an ESXi shell: 

1 esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported
2 esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
3 esxcli software vib install -d http://vibsdepot.v-front.de -n sata-xahci

The above three commands are not only working fine with PCI ID 1b21:0612. It also supports many other PCI IDs. You can find out from his wiki what has been support. Fortunately Mac Mini 3.1 ‘s PCI ID 10de:0ab9 also supported.

Once you ran those three commands, you can reboot your ESXi to get your storage controller working now. The last command to install vib file is going to take a couple of minutes to get it done. Please be more patient to wait until it is completed.

7. Reboot ESXi  and create a new datastore through VMWare vSphere Client

8. Create a new VM in ESXi

References:

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