I am super excited to announce the release of a new Community Networking Driver for ESXi Fling! The idea behind this project started about a year ago when we released an enhancement to the ne1000 driver as a community update which enabled ESXi to recognize the onboard network adapter for the Intel 10th Gen (Frost Canyon) NUC. Although the Intel NUC is not an officially supported VMware platform, it is extremely popular amongst the VMware Community. In working with the awesome Songtao, we were able to release this driver early last year for customers to take advantage of the latest Intel NUC release.
At the time, I knew that this would not be the last occurrence dealing with driver compatibility. We definitely wanted an easier way to distribute various community networking drivers that is packaged into a single deliverable for customers to easily consume and hence this project was born. In fact, it was quite timely as I had just received engineering samples of the new Intel NUC 11 Pro and Performance (Panther Canyon and Tiger Canyon) at the end of 2020 and work needed to be done before we could enable the onboard 2.5GbE (multi-gigabit) network adapter which is a default component of the new Intel Tiger Lake architecture. As reported back in early Jan, Songtao and colleague Shu were successful in getting ESXi to recognize the new 2.5GbE network adapter and has also been incorporated into this new Fling. In addition, we also started to receive reports from customers that after upgrading to a newer ESXi 7.0 releases, the onboard network adapters for the Intel 8th Gen NUC was no longer functioning. In an effort to help customers with this older platform, we have also updated the original community ne1000e driver to include the relevant PCI IDs within this Fling.
The new Community Networking Driver for ESXi is for PCIe-based network adapters and currently contains the following two driver modules:
- igc-community - which adds support for Intel 11th Gen NUCs and any other hardware platform that uses the same 2.5GbE devices
- e1000-community - which adds support for Intel 8th Gen NUC and any other hardware platform that uses same 1GbE devices
For a complete list of supported devices (VendorID/ProductID), please take a look at the Requirements tab on the Fling website. As with any Fling, this is being developed and supported in our spare time. In the future, we may consider adding other types of devices based on feedback from the broader community. I know Realtek-based PCIe NICs is something that many have been asking about and as mentioned back in this blog post, I have been in engaged with the Realtek team and hopefully in the near future, we may see an ESXi driver that can support some of the more popular devices in the community. If there are other PCIe-based networking adapters that could fit the Fling model, feel free to leave a comment on the Fling website and we can evaluate as time permits.