EDIT 9/26/2013--- REALTEK DRIVERS ARE NO LONGER A PART OF VSPHERE 5.5!! If you would like to integrate the Realtek Drivers in the ESXi 5.5 ISO, please follow Erik's article - Adding Realtek R8168 Driver to ESXi 5.5.0 ISO
Surprisingly enough, I see google keywords coming to my site to look at my homelab using the keywords Realtek and vsphere. With vSphere 4, there were some articles that I highlighted in my home lab post that pointed towards vm-help.com that used a new oem.tgz to inject Realtek drivers into the ESXi installer. The problems with injecting the oem.tgz drivers is that it wasn't native and was prone to problems. When I had a VM using that NIC with vSphere 4.1, pings were lost and things seemed to just disappear. Thus, I made the decision to skip out on using the on-board NIC and continued to use the Intel NICs that are on the HCL.
Well, the good news is that the Realtek NIC is working with vSphere 5 build 381646 (beta build). The bad news is that the vSphere HCL hasn't been updated for vSphere 5 so who knows if it's really supported.
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