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VMware Tools for Nested ESXi

If you´re owning a lab or development environment at home or at work, running the VMware ESXi hosts within a virtual machine itself (Nested ESXi), makes a lot of sense.

Not only it gives you a lot of flexibility, you also save a fair amount of money compared to a physical box.

We use Nested ESXi systems heavily at opvizor to do testing and product development.

But there was a negative impact to it, as no VMware tools were available within the ESXi installation itself to run optimized and using best practices. Our Health Analyzer is detecting old and missing VMware Tools and informs you directly about its disadvantages. 

Nested ESXi

Photo courtesy of caro.bello(CC No Derivatives)

Luckily there is a solution as a Jim Mattson (VMware Engineer) released a Fling just for the VMware Tools in a  nested ESXi environment. At least for ESXi 5.x for now. You can find his Fling here and please give kudos to him for the great job: 

VMware Tools for Nested ESXi - VMware Labs

Based on the description, the following capabilities are exposed through VMware Tools:

  • Provides guest OS information of the nested ESXi Hypervisor (eg. IP address, configured hostname, etc.).
  • Allows the nested ESXi VM to be cleanly shut down or restarted when performing power operations with the vSphere Web/C# Client or vSphere APIs.
  • Executes scripts that help automate ESXi guest OS operations when the guest’s power state changes.
  • Supports the Guest Operations API (formally known as the VIX API).

To install the bundle, it comes as a VIB file and you can use 2 ways to install it:

Option 1 - Download VIB and upload to an ESXi datastore:

Download the VIB file and upload to an ESXi datastore

esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/[DATASTORE]/esx-tools-for-esxi-9.7.2-0.0.5911061.i386.vib

Option 2 - Install directly from VMware.com (requires internet access from ESXi host):

esxcli software vib install -v http://download3.vmware.com/software/vmw-tools/esxi_tools_for_guests/esx-tools-for-esxi-9.7.2-0.0.5911061.i386.vib

To uninstall the VIB:

esxcli software vib remove -n esx-tools-for-esxi

We have more blog posts for further reading covering the Nested Installation of vSphere vCenter as well as ESXi.