After following xmas79’s instructions to the letter, I had to apply the fixes ptaylor described. I also had to grant Execute access to the run.sh script (chmod 722 /Database/vmware-tools/startup/run.sh) before the script would launch on startup.
I got release 1.0 beta 16 running on VM hardware version 8, on ESXi 5.0 with Intel E1000 virtual NICs. I also had to use VMware Converter to convert the VM download to something that would work on ESXi; the “Sparse” disk format isn’t supported there.
It’s my hope I can replace my physical router (Snapgear SG300) and wireless AP (some Netgear box) with this virtual machine and some USB wireless adapter.