I just upgraded my Apple Mac Mini 5,3 this morning from ESXi 5.1 Update 1 to the latest ESXi 5.5 release and I am very happy to report the upgrade worked flawlessly! When ESXi 5.5 is generally available, you will be able to just download the ISO and install or upgrade your existing Mac Mini without requiring additional drivers for the on-board network adapter to function correctly. If you have a Mac Mini 6,2 the old SMC issue has been resolved, but the PSOD issue is still occurring. As promised to some folks on Twitter, here is a custom ESXi 5.5 ISO for Mini 6,2 that you can just download and install without any manual intervention:
The only issue that I found is if you are using the Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter, you will find that after the install/upgrade, the network adapter no longer shows up. Looking into this issue, it looks like with the release of ESXi 5.5 and the introduction of the new Native Driver architecture, it had a slight impact to the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter. Having said that, the Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter and Mac Mini was never officially supported, so we were actually lucky that it had worked in the first place.
The reason the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter is not being recognized is that its device ID (14e4:1682) is not in tg3 (Broadcom) map file /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/tg3.map. If the device was officially supported, then it would have been automatically claimed by the vmkdevmgr which handles both vmklinux and Native Driver devices. The fix is actually quite simple and I have created a custom VIB called vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib which will add the appriorpiate device ID to a new custom map file called /etc/vmware/driver.map.d/apple.map which will not collide with the existing tg3.map file. The reason for needing a custom VIB versus appending the device ID to something like /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh is that when the script runs it is too late from a networking stack point of view.
To install the custom VIB, you will need to upload it to your ESXi datastore and run the following command:
esxcli software vib install -v /vmfs/volumes/[DATASTORE]/vghetto-apple-thunderbolder-ethernet.vib -f
Now you can either use the vSphere Web/C# Client to verify the Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter is showing up or you can run esxcli network nic list.