Vmware ESX(i) Server with off-the-shelf components

VMWare’s ESXi server can be used for free for stand-alone servers. The problem is that the HAL list is pretty much defined for server room servers like HP, IBM, DELL and so on.

So what if I want to use off-the-shelf coumputer components? Not too much information around for this. so here it is my working setup:

  • ASUS P6T motherboard
  • I7 920 CPU
  • Two 1TB Samsung F3 SATA harddisks
  • 12GB of GSKILL memory
  • Corsair TX650W
  • ASUS EN210 graphic board
  • Antec 300 case
  • INTEL 82574L 10/100/1000 PCI-E network card

The most important of all is the INTEL 82574L 10/100/1000 PCI-E network card. This is essential, because ESX will only support this network card, not the builtin motherboard card.

The setup also has an LG drive, but for some reason it wouldn’t boot up from there even a Knoopix CD, drive problem?

So I’ve download the ESXi server from the VMWare’s site and using Ubuntu’s unetbootin built a bootable USB flash drive with the latest ESXi release.

But before installing I made the following changes to the P6T BIOS:

  • SATA mode using AHCI mode. This is important for using the SATA harddisk at full potencial
  • Power on after power failure. It will boot automatically if power fails.
  • Set the correct date and time
  • Set the priority boot devices as removable media first, hardisk second, so I can boot from USB flash drive at installation phase.

Booting up from the USB flash drive was fast, and installation went without any problems.

After instalation, I’ve just changed the following parameters:

  • Root password
  • Fixed IP defined instead of using DHCP
  • System Name

From a client machine accessing http://vmesxserver_ip, shows the initial page where the administration vsphere client can be downloaded and installed. Windows only…

To move VMWare’s workstation files to the server from the Workstation or Server product you must use the VMWare converter product. Uploading files and adding to the inventory will not work.

So download VMWare converter (Linux version available), and install the server and the client. From there you can upload your vm machines. If not when starting up the machines an error like this: Failed to open disk scsi0:0 Unsupported and/or invalid disk type 7. Did you forget to import the disk first ? will crop up.

EDIT: DO NOT BUY LG cd/dvd drives. These drives can be shipped with an adware/fishware/whatever software named bluebirds , bluebirds.exe that will appear in all your Windows Virtual Machines… Stay away from these drives. You will need to flash them to get rid of this crapware that is installed without your knowledge or authorization. I should have spend 5 more euros and bought an Asus drive. The problem booting the server with the ESXi cdrom was probably due to this issue….

This means that I will not ever again will buy anything from LG. Nice move.

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