How to install VMXNET network adapter and driver for VM’s in ESX Server

Author: NetworkAdminKB.com
Created: 2008-10-16
Modified: 2009-01-17

Issue:
After creating a Virtual Machine (VM) in ESX Server 3.x you notice that the network adapter for the VM is listed as Flexible (or E1000 in 64bit) and not the Enhanced VMXNET network adapter.

You would like to change the adapter to the Enhanced VMXNET network adapter.


Cause:
The ability to choose network adapters is only given in the New Virtual Machine Wizard.  The VI Client does not allow you to change this setting after the Virtual Machine (VM) is created.


Also, the Enhanced VMXNET network adapter is not available when selecting Windows 2003 Standard Editions (32 and 64bit).  Other operating systems may also have this limitation.

 

 

 

Solution:

There are several solutions to this problem. Choose the one that best fits your needs.  VMWare has a KB article on this as well, and they support the Enhanced VMXNET network adapter on all Windows 2003 operating systems.  See the More Information section for a link to the KB article.


Method 1
Recreate the Virtual Machine using the Virtual Machine configuration wizard selecting a Windows 2003 Enterprise OS as the OS type, then selecting the VMXNET Network Adapter.

Install any Windows 2003 operating system

Method 2
If the supported Guest Operating System is a Windows 2003 Enterprise version you can edit the VMX file of the VM to include the following entries.

    ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet”
    ethernet0.features = “15”
    ethernet0.addressType = “vpx”

To check the OS version view the Options Tab of the VM, this screen shot shows a Standard Edition of Windows.

To edit the VMX file of the VM do the following

    1)      Stop the VM
    2)      Open an SSH session to the ESX Server
    3)      Change to the VM folder location on the datastore
    4)      Use the VI editor to edit the VMX file
            a.       Insert the following entries with the other ethernet0 entries

                    ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet”
                    ethernet0.features = “15”
                    ethernet0.addressType = “vpx”

    5)      Save the file
    6)      Start the VM
    7)      After the VM is started the Enhanced VMXNET Network adapter will be listed in the VM properties

Method 3

If the supported Guest Operating System is a Windows 2003 Standard version you change the OS type in the VM properties to an Enterprise Edition of Windows.  Once that is done you can edit the VMX file of the VM to include the same entries as in Method 2.

Method 4

If the supported Guest Operating System is a Windows 2003 Standard version, you can edit the VMX file to include the following entries. 

    ethernet0.virtualDev = “vmxnet”
    ethernet0.features = “15”
    ethernet0.addressType = “generated”

The change here is the addressType must be “generated”.  For some reason “vpx” is not allowed when the OS is configured as Standard Edition of Windows 2003. 

More Information:

Enabling enhanced vmxnet adapters for Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Be sure to install VMWare Tools into the Virtual Machine OS (Windows in this case).  VMWare Tools installs the VMXNET driver and places a copy in C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware Tools\Drivers\vmxnet.

 The Flexible adapter driver name is VMWare Accelerated AMD PCNet Adapter

 The VMXNET adapter driver name is VMWare PCI Ethernet Adapter

 Contents of the VMX file for a Virtual Machine configured with the Flexible or E1000 Adapter

The networkName setting will vary with your configuration

 Contents of the VMX file for a Virtual Machine configured with the VMXNET Adapter

The networkName setting will vary with your configuration


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Article ID: 123, Created On: 9/17/2011, Modified: 10/8/2011