As I have roughly 8 weeks till I sit my first VMware advanced certification I'm going to be pushing out somewhat random posts dealing with areas on the VCAP5-DCA blueprint where I feel I need practice on.  Don't be surprised if they don't jump around from objective to objective.  Maybe some of you will find them useful, maybe not.  But in my experience wring stuff down and sharing it here really helps me learn it.  And since everything I read about the VCAP DCA is that you need to move a superman speed, I had better know my stuff.  So, without further ado, here's the first – Image Builder.

I've never used Image Builder at all, which you can come to the conclusion that you will most likely see some Auto Deploy and Host Profile posts to follow.  I've just never had the 'need' to get any of this setup and configured.  Anyways, enough of that, let's have a look at how to build a custom image with Image Builder.

First off let's figure out what Image Builder is.  In it's basic functionality, it is essentially a ways at managing multiple software depots and packages.  Packages meaning those VIBs that you need to download for certain pieces of software and drivers that don't come with the vanilla ESXi installer.  So, basically we can use Image Builder to take the ESXi software bundle (the installer), add and remove drivers or software in the form of VIBs to and from it, and then output our results to an image profile for use by Auto Deploy, or simply export everything to our own customized ISO file to install from disk.  

So first, in order to add items to the ESXi installer we need to get the ESXi installer – pretty simple stuff thus far.  Don't get the ISO file, we need what is called an offline bundle, a zip file containing all of the information that would be in that ISO.  You should be able to pull that down from the same place in myvmware that you would get the ISO.

So, the first thing we need to do is add the ESXi Offline Bundle that we downloaded as a software depot.

Add-ESXSoftwareDepot c:\VCAP\update-from-esxi5.1-5.1_update01.zip

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So the this will basically install four image profiles for us.  An image profile is essentially a group of packages (VIBs).  THis is what we are going to be using to export to ISOs and bundles.  To view the profiles available use

Get-ESXImageProfile | Select Name

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As we can see there are 4.  The one we are concerned with is "ESXi-5.1.0-20130402001-standard".  Now, instead of modifing the default profile we will instead clone it to one of our own.  Always good practice in case we end up having issues.

Now we can clone our profile to a new name using the following command

New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-5.1.0-20130402001-standard -Name MikesProfile -Vendor mwpreston.net

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As you can see, running our Get-ESXImageProfile will now list our newly created profile.

So, here's where the magic starts to happen!  In this case I have a need to add a driver for an Intel NIC.  I've already downloaded the software depot for it, so just as I did for the ESXi software bundle I will add the Intel software bundle using the following command.

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\VCAP\ixgbe-3.14.3.1-offline_bundle-1265488.zip

So at this point I need to look inside of the these depots and find the actual name of the package (VIB) that I would like to add to my profile.  I already added all of the ESXi vibs when I did the clone.  To find my intel VIB I can run 'Get-ESXSoftwarePackage' however that will return everything.  Let's take an easier route and filter by vendor, since I know it is Intel.

Get-ESXSoftwarePackage | where {$_.Vendor -eq 'Intel'}

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So, now that we know the name of the package we wish to add to our Image Profile is net-ixgbe we can add it with the following command.

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile MikesProfile -SoftwarePackage net-ixgbe

We can also remove packages with, guess what, Remove-ESXSoftwarePackage πŸ™‚  At this point our Image Profile has been created so we are left with only the task of exporting it – and honestly, this is the easiest part.

To export to and ISO
Export-ESXImageProfile -ExportToIso c:\VCAP\MyISO.iso

​To export to a bundle – for use with Auto Deploy

Export-ESXImageProfile -ExportToBundle c:\VCAP\MyBundle.zip

And thats it!  Image Profiles checked off the list.  These are pretty simple to work with providing you can remember all of the PowerCLI cmdlets.  Honestly, this feels like something that they might include on the exam as it is easily measurable.  Stay tuned.  I'll try and complete the process with Auto Deploy soon!