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ESXi: for my link archive “Developing for VMware ESXi”

Posted by jpluimers on 2022/02/15

This post amends the post last week on rsync backup of your ESXi box: How to make a statically linked rsync binary « The Wiert Corner – irregular stream of stuff.

Two weeks ago, I posted about Source: ESXi: searching for “vim-cmd vmsvc/message” lead me to the “Managing ESXi Without VI Client” series of blog posts.

It got me looking more deeply in the VM-Help site, and I found [Wayback] Developing for VMware ESXi – Virtual Machine and VPS Tutorials, for which I have materialised the links below and checked their WayBack machine status.

Compiling Utilities for ESXi

Given that ESXi is not based on Linux you won’t find any installer which you could use to install any Linux components that you might want to add to ESXi. However, ESXi does make use of a number of Open Source packages such as OpenSSL, Python, and Openwsman (WS-Management). The key to compiling a utility for ESXi is creating a statically linked version of the tool. With a statically linked version, there are no dependencies on other libraries that may not be present on ESXi. The downside to this method of compiling is that the utility may be larger than a dynamically linked version. With a dynamically linked version the utility assumes that other libraries are present and can rely on subroutines within those libraries.

Compiling rsync – [Wayback] How to compile a statically linked rsync binary for ESXi
Compiling Busybox – [Wayback] How to compile Busybox for ESXi … kind of Part 1
Discussion of compiling UNFS – (not archived in the WayBack machine nor available on-line)
Notes on compling binaries – [Wayback] Stjepan Groš – Homepage

Compiling Drivers for ESXi

Given the common misunderstanding that ESXi is Linux based, a new user often inquires about the process of copying a Linux driver to their ESXi install. This is not possible. ESXi includes a Linux driver compatibility module. This allows for Linux source code to be used to compile drivers for ESXi, but the drivers are still specific to ESXi. The following links provides some samples and notes for compiling drivers for ESXi.

Compiling a Silicon Image 3132 driver – [] Wayback: Adding Driver Support to VMware ESXi 4 | Tip’s Notebook
Compiling a Marvell sky2 driver – [Wayback] Using a Marvell LAN card with ESXi 4 – KernelCrash

(Note: This post was initially written when ESXi 4.0 was available. As of late 2010, ESXi 4.1 has been released, and it does actually include a sky2 driver that may or may not work with various Marvell LAN chipsets. The post is still relevant (especially the comments)  if your particular Marvell chipset does not work with the sky2 driver in ESXI 4.1. Also, the post is relevant if you’re interested in porting other network drivers to ESXi)

Open Virtualization Drivers development notes

Being from the ESXi 4 and 5 era, the links seem to hold up remarkably well. Despite ESXi 3 being Linux based (see [] VMware ESX Server – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), as opposed to ESXi 4 and up that run a microkernel, Linux based tools still can be used to develop tooling and drivers.


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