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If you have a new NIC card or a server of a new generation could be possible that the right driver is missing in the standard ESXi installation ISO. And without a working networking is not possible install the ESXi (the installation will stop because one requirement is at least a supported NIC).

Maybe the hardware vendor has a customized version of the ISO, but IMHO I don’t like this option (in some cases it could give some issues).

Another option is simple build your own customized version of the ESXi installation ISO and use it to install it with the right driver (custom drivers are usually avaible also on VMware site). To do this there are different options:

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Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2735 Posts)

Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-18. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-18. Nutanix NTC 2014-18. PernixPro 2014-16. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.