While vSphere 7.x is the last vSphere release to officially support Apple MacOS Virtualization running on ESXi, my own curiosity got the best of me and I was just curious if ESXi 8.0 could still run on recent Apple Mac Hardware ...
Disclaimer: VMware does NOT officially support running ESXi 8.0 on Apple Hardware nor Apple MacOS Virtualization using vSphere 8, this is purely for educational and informational purposes. Please use at your own risk.
Attempting to boot the ESXi 8.0 installer on an Apple Mac Mini 8,1 (2018) will halt the installer and result in the following exception.
I was about to give up but I figure I might as well share this internally in case Engineering might know why this is occurring and maybe even have a workaround. From the error, this could be related to a firmware bug but given ESXi 8.0 is not officially supported, there has been no testing or validation and issues like these can and will occur.
With the help of one of our Engineers, a bypass workaround was suggested as a last resort and to our surprise, it allowed me to successfully boot and install ESXi 8.0 on an Apple Mac Mini 8,1 (2018) ✅.
If you do run into this issue, you will need to update the ESXi 8.0 installer boot.cfg which is located under EFI/boot/boot.cfg (typically after you have created the bootable ESXi installer on USB) and you will need to add a new line at the very bottom with the following:
Once you have updated the boot.cfg, you can then boot the ESXi 8.0 installer and be able to bypass the issue mentioned above and continue with the installation. Once the installation has completed, you will also need to update the boot.cfg under the /bootbank partition (before you reboot ESXi host, ALT+F1 to get into ESXi Shell) with this same configuration to ensure ESXi host can boot after you restart. Alternatively, you can also unplug the USB device (assuming you are booting off of USB) and manually updating the EFI/boot/boot.cfg using your local desktop system with USB device mounted.
With 2018 Apple Mac Mini running ESXi 8.0, I was also curious about my old 2011 Apple Mac Mini (5,3) 🤔 To my complete surprise, I was able to successfully boot and install ESXi 8.0 without any workarounds or issues! ESXi 8.0 now running on an Apple Mac Mini 5,3 (2011) ✅
Note: The built-in onboard 1GbE network adapter is no longer supported with ESXi and you will need to either use a USB-based network adapter or use Thunderbolt 2 to Ethernet Adapter which is recognized by ESXi 8.0 installer.
While I did not have access to an Apple Mac Pro 7,1 (2019), I would expect ESXi 8.0 to also have a similiar or better experience than the 2018 Mac Mini. If someone does get a chance to try ESXi 8.0 when it is available on the 2019 Mac Pro, be sure to share your experience and I will update the blog post with those details.