VMware vSphere nested in Hyper-V on Windows 8

I recently got a new corporate laptop with Windows 8 installed, as I needed to do some lab work I installed VMware Workstation 9 and installed a copy of nested VMware vSphere 5.1 as VMware Workstation delivers this natively. The install of vSphere went without problems but when I tried to install a VM or even import the virtual appliance for vCenter it would be slow.. Very slow… So I decided to go wild and remove VMware Workstation and enable Hyper-V for Windows 8. I loaded the VMware vSphere ISO file and went on with the installation but with the standard VM (default settings) the install would end up in a black screen so I removed the NIC and added a legacy NIC to see what that would result in.. I did get ESXI to install but in the end it would say that there where “no supported network cards found”: vmware_nic   So I went searching on the internet and found a topic on the VMware forums: Vmware ESXI within Hyper-v (server 2012) networking issue which described the same issue as I was having. On page 3 of the topic I found the solution, you should create a custom ISO with the ported Hyper-V legacy NIC drivers injected. Luckely John117 already ported the drivers to a .VIB file over here: Tulip.vib I followed the following steps:

  • Download ESXi ISO image.
  • Download ESXi customizer : http://www.v-front.de/p/esxi-customizer.html
  • Follow the instructions on the same page to create your custom ESXi ISO image with the tulip driver.
  • You can now install ESXi in a Hyper-V VM.

After creating the custom ISO I was able to install ESXi into the Hyper-V VM without any problems but there was no network possible between my nested ESXi and a Windows Server 2012 VM. I installed another Windows 8 VM to test network connectivity and that went without problems so I knew the communication problems where caused by the ESXi host. After a couple of searches I wounded back to the topic mentioned earlier and saw this remark:

<allow_promiscuous_mode type=”boolean”>TRUE</allow_promiscuous_mode>

I added this line into the XML of the VM and got network connectivity and could go on with my lab work.

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Kees Baggerman

Kees Baggerman is a Staff Solutions Architect for End User Computing at Nutanix. Kees has driven numerous Microsoft and Citrix, and RES infrastructures functional/technical designs, migrations, implementations engagements over the years.


  1. […] possible to run virtual machines on a ESXi virtual machine running on Windows 8 Client Hyper-V. See this posting of Kees Baggerman. Kees describes that he initially tried VMware Workstation but this was […]

  2. Rue says:

    Where abouts in the xml did you add that line. I have same issue and inserted the line in the global settings section but still have the same issue. Interestingly, the issue is only limited to connectivity to/from other VMs in Hyper-V and not with machines outside hyper-v.

  3. marsto says:

    Are you able to connect on ESXi nested in Hyper-V directly from your Windows 8? I’m asking because I can’t on my DELL Latitude E6530. I can connect to ESXi only from another system. I reported this issue to vmware comunity, but nobody answer yet. Have a look at http://communities.vmware.com/message/2258786#2258786.

    • Rue says:

      That wasn’t important for me so I haven’t tested it. I need to be able to communicate between ESXi and other VMs on the same vswitch which I can’t do. What I did find is that when I only have the ESXi VM powered on I can access the internet but when I have another VM powered on on the same vswitch I can’t access the internet. I think I’ll be giving up on hyper-v and going back to VMware Workstation and a virtual applicance like vyatta

      • marsto says:

        But in my opinion, it seems that this might be some problem with tulip.vib module, which I downloaded from vmware community forum probably as you did. Another linux OS (Debian 7, …) works in my Hyper-V on Windows 8 very well. So it doesn’t matter whether I set old style NIC or default one.

        • Rue says:

          or the version of esxi. The tulip.vib posted on the forum was created for version 5.0.0xxxx not 5.1 which is what I’m using. Still, a lot of trouble just to get esxi working virtually. The only reason I wanted to do this was to play around with dvswitches and vlans which looks more achievable with vm workstation and vyatta router than it does with hyper-v and esxi vms.

  4. k.baggerman says:

    I recently replaced this configuration by native Hyper-V as there was no need for me to run Nested VMware vSphere anymore so I can’t get back the config files for you, sorry.

  5. Nico says:

    I followed your instruction.
    I got vsphere esx 5.1 running on my windows 8 hyper-v all fine.
    However when I try to start a VM in the nested ESX I get this error:

    Power On virtual machine:VMware ESX and Hyper-V are not compatible. Remove the Hyper-V role from the system before running VMware ESX.

    See the error stack for details on the cause of this problem.
    Time: 5-7-2013 13:47:03
    Target: New Virtual Machine
    Error Stack
    VMware ESX and Hyper-V are not compatible. Remove the Hyper-V role from the system before running VMware ESX.

    Now obviously I can’t uninstall the Hyper-V role from my windows 8 laptop, since the ESX instance itself is nested inside of it. So what is the trick to make the nested hypervisor run it’s VM’s ?

    • k.baggerman says:

      Nico, when I google on your error I get the following result: http://forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/43761-VMware-and-Hyper-V-not-compatible. Maybe you can follow that threat because apparently there is a solution for that problem.

    • Scott K says:

      I have the same setup, other than its 2012 hyper as the host. But I got ESXi 5.1 installed fine using the tulip.vib and setting the NIC to legacy. I can manage the ESX VM thru Vsphere and created a Windows XP 32bit vm, but when I start I get the exact same message. ESX sees that its nested and says to remove the role, but like Nico, I obviously cant give 2012 hyper-v is the host….I cant find any solution as of yet.

      • jascha says:

        Same problem here. Tried it with ESXi 5.1, 5.5 and 6.0 – all instances boot up perfectly, but if I try to start a virtual machine in the ESXi, it detects the nested setup and only gives an error…

        Is there a solution for this?

        • Michael M. says:

          Exactly my problem too. Please tell us if you have a solution. Did somebody start a VM on a virtual ESXi in a physical Winodws 8.1 Hyper-V`?

  6. […] VMware vSphere nested in Hyper-V on Windows 8 […]

  7. manuverma says:

    I trying to install ESXI 5.5 on hyper-v in windows 8.1 but it stuck in relocating modules and starting up the kernel.
    Please help me out for this issue.

  8. Marcel says:

    While booting the installer, press shift+o and add ignoreHeadless=TRUE to the boot parameters. That should work.

  9. Justo says:

    I have the same problem with manuverma. I tried the “ignoreHeadless=TRUE” command, but the problem still persist.

    Any other suggestions?

    • mlira says:

      1: shift-o when loading VMware screen comes up
      2: leave all the text that’s there , then put a space between that text and ignoreHeadless=TRUE
      3: boot all the way back up and go into Troubleshooting Options, enable ESXi Shell and hit esc
      4: hit alt-f1 and login to the console. then type the following esxcfg-advcfg –set-kernel “TRUE” ignoreHeadless then hit enter
      5: type exit and then hit alt-f2
      6:go back and disable ESXi shell option
      7: reboot to test .

  10. steve says:

    @Marcel: Thanks – That ignoreHeadless=TRUE seems to be working. ESXi 5.5 is now loading on my 8.1 laptop.. Awesome!

  11. Luiz Felipe Arcos Campos says:

    I have a Win 8.1 and trying to install ESXi 5.5.

    Using default esxi 5.5 install and custom esxi install with Tulib.vib, and trying the option “ignoreHeadless=TRUE” in both iso’s don’t work. What do you do steve?


  12. Alex says:

    I have a Win 8.1 and trying to install ESXi 5.5. Using options “ignoreHeadless=TRUE” is not helped, but on Windows Server 2012 it’s worked!


  13. wong says:

    Hi there, I have try to install windows 8 client with Hyper-V enable, when I try to reboot the esx host, it stuck at booting at local disk.Do you know how we can get rid of the issue?

  14. Jeevan says:

    Same problem here

  15. Brendan says:

    ESXi 5.5 finishes install with a “No compatible network adapter found…” This is after adding the tulip VIB. I’m using a Dell laptop with an Intel I218-LM adapter, though I’d really like to be able to assign my WWAN adapter.

  16. Jeevan says:

    Ensure you are using Legacy Adapter for the VM.

  17. Jeevan says:

    Anyone test on Windows 8.1 since the hyper-v is updated, i am stuck at “Booting from local disk..”

  18. Mike says:

    Has anyone got this working on Hyper-V 2012, running Server 2012? I can get the install to run, but when the install completes, the installer reboots the VM, but after its done, the machine loops into the installer again. The installer completed, but for some reason, didnt persist though the reboot. Any ideas?

    • Brendan says:

      I did some of this last year but can’t remember the details. Here’s my notes on it though 🙂

      Hyper-V setup
      Get tulip driver VIB for ESXi
      Add to iso with esxi customizer
      Create vm on hyper-v
      Legacy network
      Disable secure boot
      Boot, add option “ignoreHeadless=TRUE”

  19. […] You can, however, get drivers for the legacy adapter and build a custom install CD (thanks to this blog post which seems to be down now; original instructions are at this, this, and this forum posts, followed […]

  20. Brian Keplinger says:

    It works if you follow the directions however intercommunication on the hyper-v switch would not work. So the resolution was to create a separate switch for the esxi host.

  21. Installation de VMWare ESXi sur Hyper-V

      Préparation de l’image ISO Télécharger la versio

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