How to resolve VMware ESXi 6.0 only detects first NIC when nested in VMware Workstation


I’m updating my certifiactions at the moment and to help with my VCP I’m in the process of building a vSphere 6 home lab. I’m using VMware workstation and within it I’m setting up two ESXi 6.0 hosts, a vCSA and a single DC. Each ESXi host has ten NICs with will be distributed and teamed onto five different networks, Management, Storage, vMotion, and two sudo VLANs for VMs. The problem is only the first Network Adpater which was bridged has been detected correctly.

At first i didn’t notice it, as in VM Workstation everything looks ok. The Network Adapters were added in VMware Workstation with out an issue, and assigned to the correct custom virtial networks.

Virtual Machine Settings

In the VMware Workstation system tray they are all visible.
VMware Workstation NICs

But when I tried to create a new vSwitch in ESXi 6, i got the warning message:

“There are no free network adapters to add to the switch.”

vCSA - There are no free network adapters to add to the switch

After a fair bit of Googling I cam across a suggestion for a similar issue in ESXi 5.1 on Spiceworks by Eduardo Mayers.

The issue seems to be that the VMware Workstation vmx configuration file for the ESXi 6.0 host has the first Network Adapter described correctly  but the subsequent ones are not.

I connected to ESXi-1 via SSH to take a look. First I typed the command: esxcfg-nics -l

This will list the NICs in the system. As you can see vmnic0 is detected as an Intel 82545EM. But no other NICs are listed.

Putty esxcfg-nics -l

Next I typed the command: lspci

This lists detailed information about the PCI buses. Interestingly you can see the one Intel 82545EM network adapter, and nine AMD PCNet adapters.

Putty lspci

So next I shutdown the ESXi-1 host and took a look at the vmx configuration file. As you can see in the image below the NIC that is working has an extra line of configuration:

ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000”

esxi1 vmx configuration file

I added ethernetX.virtualDev = “e1000” for each of the other ethernet adapters and restarted the ESXi-1 host.

All of the adpaters now appear in vCSA!

vCSA - ESXi1-Manage-Networking-Physical Adapters

And a quick double check with Putty using esxcfg-nics -l shows ten Intel 82545EM adapters.

Putty esxcfg-nics -l after

Now I can carry on and get some networking setup on my ESXi hosts. Thanks to Eduardo Mayers and Spiceworks for the tip.


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7 thoughts on “How to resolve VMware ESXi 6.0 only detects first NIC when nested in VMware Workstation

  1. Rezard

    Hi Mate
    I am really really thankful for this post. I nearly tried for 2 days to resolve this issue and went to frustration.
    Luckily I saw this post and sorted my issue with in 2 minutes.

    I really honor you mate……

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