Home > Mac administration, VMware, VMware ESXi > Setting up ESXi 6.0 on a 2012 Mac Mini Server

Setting up ESXi 6.0 on a 2012 Mac Mini Server

Something I’ve been doing for a while is running ESXi on my home server setup. Up until now I’ve been running ESXi 5.5.x on a 2011 Mac Mini, but with the release of ESXi 6.0 by VMware, I decided it was time to upgrade to new hardware. I opted to use the 2012 Mac Mini Server over the 2014 Mac Mini because the 2012 Mini Server uses quad-core processors with hyper-threading. Hyper-threading effectively doubles the number of available processors, so I would be upgrading from four available processors on my 2011 Mini to eight available processors on my 2012; in turn doubling the number of virtual machines which I could host and run inside of ESXi.

Unlike my previous installation of ESXi 5.x on a 2011 Mac Mini Server, where I needed to add ethernet drivers to the stock ESXi 5.x installer, ESXi 6.0 will install and work without additional drivers or installer modification needed. All I needed to do was download a copy of the ESXi 6.0 installer ISO file from the VMware website, use Disk Utility to burn the ISO file to a CD and use that to install ESXi 6. For more details, see below the jump.

Installing ESXi 6.0 on the Mini

Once I had the CD, I hooked up an Apple USB SuperDrive to the Mini, popped the newly-burned CD in and rebooted the Mini. When rebooting, I held down the Option key on my keyboard to allow the various boot drive options to appear, then selected the CD. The CD showed up with EFI Boot and Windows partitions, so I selected EFI Boot.

NOTE: All screenshots of this process are from ESXi running inside of VMWare Fusion, but the Mac Mini install process was identical.

Once booted from the CD, I was asked to select the ESXi 6.0 installer. Once selected, the ESXi installer boot process began.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.38.29 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.38.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 3.06.03 PM

1. When asked to begin the installation process, I hit the Enter key.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.51.26 PM

2. I hit the F11 key to accept the license agreement.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.23.42 AM

At this point, the installer took a few minutes to scan the machine.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.51.35 PM

3. Once scanning completed, I was asked to select the drive I wanted to install on. I selected the drive I wanted and hit the Enter key.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.51.37 PM

4. I selected US Default for the keyboard layout.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.51.46 PM

5. When prompted, I set a password for the root account. This is the user account that you’ll initially use to log into your ESXi server.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.51.55 PM

At this point, the installer took a few minutes to scan the machine again.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 2.51.58 PM

6. The installer then confirms that you want to install using the options you’ve selected. You’re also warned that the disk will be repartitioned.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 3.03.32 PM

NOTE: Repartitioning will wipe everything on the drive. If you have data you need to get off of this drive, hit the Escape key to back out at this point.

7. ESXi 6.0 will then install.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 3.03.52 PM

8. When finished, the installer will request that you remove the installation disc and then reboot. Once you’ve removed it, hit the Enter key to reboot.

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 3.05.05 PM

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Booting ESXi 6.0 on the Mini and changing network settings

On reboot, the Mini should now boot from the newly-created ESXi boot drive. Once up at the server display screen, you should see that it’s picked up a dynamic IP from your DHCP server and has the hostname of localhost. Here’s how to change that to a static IP and a new hostname.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.08.18 PM

1. Click the F2 key.

2. Log in as the root account, using the password you set during the install process.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.08.28 PM

3. You should be now at the System Customization screen. Select Configure Management Network.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.09.16 PM

4. In the Configure Management Network screen, select IPv4 Configuration.

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5. In the IPv4 Configuration settings, Select Set static IP address and network configuration: and hit the space bar to make that option active.

6. Set the static IP, subnet mask and gateway address. Once finished, hit the Enter key to save the changes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.09.32 PM

7. In the Configure Management Network screen, select DNS Configuration.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.44.35 AM

8. In the DNS Configuration settings, set the address(es) of your DNS server(s) and also set your desired hostname. In my case, I set a fully qualified DNS name.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.46.17 AM

Once finished, hit the Enter key to save the changes.

9. In the Configure Management Network screen, select Custom DNS Suffixes.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.10.38 PM

10. In the Custom DNS Suffixes settings, you may need to set a DNS suffix. In my case, my domain was already filled in. Once finished, hit the Enter key to save the changes.

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11. Once you’ve made all of your changes, hit the Escape key to exit back to the System Customization screen. You’ll be asked to confirm the changes you’ve made to your network settings and warned that there will be a brief network outage for the ESXi server and any VMs running on it. Hit the Y key to apply the new settings.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 10.49.40 AM

12. At the System Customization screen, you should now see your static IP and hostname displayed under Configure Management Network.

13. Hit the Escape key to exit to the server display screen. It should now be displaying your hostname and your static IP address.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.11.32 PM

Logging to your ESXi server

To log into your ESXi server, I recommend having access to a Windows VM or a Windows PC and running the Windows vSphere client for initial setup. Once you’ve got it up and running, VMware Fusion Pro has a number of ESXi management options.

1. Install the vSphere client on the Windows box.

2. Launch the vSphere client and enter the following information:

IP Address / Name: IP or DNS address of your ESXi server

User name: root

Password: the password you set during the install process

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.07.33 PM

3. You’ll be warned that an untrusted SSL certificate is installed. Click the Ignore button.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.11.44 PM

If everything worked right, at this point you should be in! You’ll be warned that you’re using a 60 day evaluation license. If you have a VMWare account, you can log in to the VMWare website and download a free ESXi license to use with your Mini ESXi server.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 8.12.01 PM

  1. Patrick
    April 2, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Thanks a lot for your post.
    I can run two Maverick’s clients and one windows 2012 essential server on ESXi 6.0.0.
    But I occurred some problems with the video card. I’m unable to change the resolution (fixed at 1024×768). I tried to change it on vSphere Client (many settings) but nothing happened.
    This problem is the same for the tree VMs.
    Any idea ?
    Thanks for your help and support

  2. Virgilio Fornazin
    April 30, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Have you found a way to control the FAN speed via SMC? My mini 2012 with ESXi 6 (8 vms, 10% total machine usage) is frying here !

    • October 10, 2015 at 2:41 am

      Thanks for the great article! Did you ever figure out how to control the fan? Would like to install ESXI but don’t want to fry my Mac Mini!

    • September 26, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Hi, anyone got a solution for the temperature / fan speed?

      • Virgilio Fornazin
        October 17, 2016 at 2:08 pm

        one year without this solution…

  3. November 11, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    Copying contents of ISO to USB (ExFAT) works too.

  4. Heathy
    November 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Very useful article, thanks for taking the time to post it.

  5. December 28, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    has anyone tried to install on a 2TB SSD?

  6. klabu
    February 17, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    How to access Thunderbolt-connected storage (Pegasus R6)?

    • robert schatzman
      October 11, 2016 at 12:34 am

      I’d love to know if this is possible too!

    • January 23, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      where you able to get thunderbolt storage to pass through. I have a drobo 5D that i’d like to use with a Mac OSX 10.12 VM

  7. Nik
    April 27, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    my mac mini fan is full speed , is there any way to slow it down ? i have esxi 6

    • Virgilio Fornazin
      October 17, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      mine has NO speed, what you did to make this run at full speed?

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