Re-Ordering VMware Network Adapters the Right Way – Fresh Installation Process

Note: Changing VMNIC names by editing the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file is not supported by VMware.We are not going to make any changes to the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file manually.Using this method we will let VMware ESXi/ESX do it automatically.

These instructions are for a VMware ESXi hosts without vSwitches or Port Groups configured.
This is a freshly installed ESXi host that does not have the Network Adapters in the correct order.

If you are not using a Dell iDRAC/HP iLO or other Remote Management Interface, you need to follow my other process “Existing Installation Process”, because we disable all Network Cards and you will not be able to access your ESXi host.

I have another Blog post on doing this process if you already have your vSwitches or Port Groups setup and configured.

Step # 1
Place the ESXi/ESX host into Maintenance Mode.(Note: If ESXi/ESX host has already been added to vCenter, if not then you can safely skip this step.)
Step # 2
Shutdown the ESXi/ESX host.
Step # 3
Physical Network Cards need to be physically remove from the system.(Note: Make a note and/or diagram from which slot each Network Card was installed.)
Step # 4
1) Boot into System BIOS to disable the On-Board Network Cards.
(Note: We disabled even our Mezzanine Card Slots, if using Blade Technology.)
2) Shutdown ESXi/ESX host.
Step # 5
Boot the ESXi/ESX host.(Note: At boot time, VMware ESXi/ESX will remove all removed and/or disabled Network Cards from the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file.)
Step # 6
Shutdown the ESXi/ESX host.
Step # 7
Add/Enable ESXi/ESX host Network Cards in the required order.1) Enable the On-Board Network Cards.Re-start the ESXi/ESX host.(Note: You can verify this by going into the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) Console.)Step # 1 Login to the DCUI.
Step # 2 Under System Customization, select Configure Management Network.Step # 3 Under Configure Management Network, select Network Adapters.
Step # 8
Add your Physical Network Cards back into the same slots from which they were installed.(Note: You can add them back into the system one at a time. This way you can re-check them using the DCUI Console process.)Continue this process until you have all of your Network Cards back into the system.
Step # 9
Now all of your Network Cards should be back into the system and correctly ordered.
More Information on how VMware ESXi/ESX deals with the Network Card ordering.
The PCI ID to VMNIC numbering relationship is determined at boot time and is automatically entered into the esx.conf file for persistence.

The ESXi/ESX host first scans the segment number, then the bus number, the slot number, and finally the function number. This order ensures that ports on the same multi-port NIC are numbered sequentially.

Initially, when ESXi/ESX is installed, the VMNIC order will be sequential. This may change over time as NICs are removed and other NICS are added. This can result in VMNIC ordering that is undesirable and not in sync with the naming convention on other ESXi/ESX hosts.