VMWare ESXi 5.5 installation on a HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8

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VMWare ESXi 5.5 installation on a HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8

Please check one of my other posts, if you have performance problems after installing to ESXI 6.

Introduction

In this tutorial we will set-up a VMWare ESXi 5.5 as a Testlab for serving virtual machines on a small-scale server system from Hewlett Packard, a ProLiant Microserver G8 aka Gen8.

Two methods are presented below. I strongly advise you to take the second variant presented. The first one, that should work ended in a Red Screen of Death!

Hardware modifications

As the basic machine is already a nice one, but not powerful enough equipped with hardware, I upgraded the server with additional components directly when buying the Gen8. Therefore I went to the smallest available model of the HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 servers, a G1610T model.

I bought a G1610T and in addition the following hardware:

  • 1x Intel Xeon E3-1265L v2, a quad-core processor (2,5GHz, Sockel 1155, L3 Cache, 45 Watt, BX80637E31265L2) and a turbo frequency of up to 3.5 GHz
  • 2x Kingston KTH-PL316E/8G DDR3-RAM with each 8 GB capacity (1600MHz, PC3-12800 and ECC!)
  • 2x Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 SATA III hard drives with each 3TB (7200rpm, 64MB Cache)
  • 1x USB thumb drive (found one in the drawer…)

The main pros of this server are:

  • It includes a cheap but fine hardware hd controller, a HP Smart Array B120i with a throughput of 91.4K IOPS.
  • The form factor! – It is in fact an Ultra Micro Tower.
  • Less than 150 W power consumption – even with four HDDs, it will stay with less than 100 W!
  • Two 1Gb Ethernet ports and one extra dedicated iLO 4 network port.
  • Internal micro sd and usb port to use them as additional hard drive ports.

I will not cover the hardware installation here in detail, but just link to other pages that mentioned working CPU / Ram upgrades. Up to today me haven´t seen anyone who managed to have 32 GB of RAM working on the G8 server; which would give a nice opportunity for the hosting. But I am quite sure with a wider distribution of 16 GB ECC memory module; one will give it a try and make it work. It might be that HP will provide some kind of BIOS update to officially support more total memory.

See the following pages for more information about the servers:

Additional preparatory work

Configure HP Integrated Lights-Out (iLO)

You should set-up iLO before the actual installation process, as this will make your further server life easier and of course because this tutorial makes use of iLO. This does not mean, you cannot go without the iLO, but I suggest you to give it a try. Just check my previous post about „iLO on the HP ProLiant Microserver Gen8“ if you need any help regarding iLO.

Download the VMware ISO image

Download the modified current version of ESXi from the VMWare web page. You will be forwarded from HPs to VMwares web page. You have to login or create a login during this process. The ISOs name should be similar to: VMware-ESXi-5.5.0-Update1-1746018-HP-5.74.27-Jun2014.iso

Upgrading to latest available firmware

My server was delivered with a 1.3 version of HP Intelligent Provisioning Online update. The current version, while writing this tutorial is already v. 1.5, so we will cover this firmware upgrade here as well.
Open the Remote Console, found under „Remote Console“ > „Java Integrated Remote Console“ (Java IRC), that provides remote access to the system through iLO.

HP Smart Deployment

HP Smart Deployment

Open the “Maintenance section” on the right and check „Firmware-Upgrade“ there.

Maintenance section

Maintenance section

Click on „Firmware-Update“ here and install all available updates. This process will take a while.

Creating disk array

In the „HP Smart Storage Administrator“ (SSA) (also available in the Maintenance section) you have to create a hard disk array. I went for 2×3 TB HDDs as Raid 1 here. As I am not planning to use the disk array as boot volume but for the provision of virtual machines, and install ESXi on the USB thumb drive, we can exceed the 2 TiB limit here.

Smart Storage Administrator

Smart Storage Administrator

 

Installation of VMWare ESXi 5.5
(Method 1 – a non-working solution!)

After installation of the additional hardware, upgrading the iLO and creating a disc array, we can now initiate the actual installation of our hypervisor system.

  1. Log in again to your iLO web view and open the mentioned remote console again.
HP Intelligent Provisioning

Server iLO Management
HP Intelligent Provisioning

 

  • This time, choose „Config and Install“
  • HP Intelligent Provisioning

    „Config and Install“ or „Service“?

  • In the next step, choose „minimum power consumption“, „skip update“ and „Keep Array configuration“ as we already managed this procedure just before.
  • On the next screen, just choose „VMWare ESXi/vSphere-Image“, „Manuell Install“ and „Drive media“ here.
  • Install from Image file

    Install from Image file

  • From the „Virtual Drives“ in your Remote Console, just check „Image File CD-Rom/DVD“ and select the downloaded ISO file there.
  • Mounting media

    Mounting media

  • Confirming on Step 4 will install the VMWare ESXi Server on your HP system. This will take some minutes to complete.
  • After the installation the server will be rebooted. This will take additional > three minutes. You can stay connected to the iLO that time!
  • The server will restart directly into the ESXi Server, displaying an IP address where it is available through.
  • This is, how it should work! – In my case, this way wasn´t working properly, after rebooting, I ended on a Red Screen of Death! So I went for the second variant, which is explained in the next section.

    Installation of VMWare ESXi 5.5
    (Method 2, working solution!)

    If you encounter errors during the first method,  please check the following variant, that might be even better, as you are actual performing a manual installation.

    Choosing your boot device

    In fact there are several ways to boot the installation media from, I will just outline two ways to boot from.

    1. You may connect an USB thumb drive with the installation media preloaded as explained on the very short article „Preparing ESXi boot image for USB Flash drive„. Just plug it in.
    2. Choose to add the .iso file as a virtual drive to the iLO remote console. Go to “Virtual Drives” > “Image File CD-Rom/DVD” > Select the installation .iso file you just downloaded before.
    Choosing an image file as birtual drive

    Choosing an image file as virtual drive

    Both of the ways should work for the following install process.

    The main installation process

    1. Boot your server and hit „F11“ to go to the boot menu.
    HP Proliant Boot Screen

    HP Proliant Boot Screen

  • In the menu, you can choose
    1. „USB DriveKey“, if you filled a USB thumb drive before with the ISO file.
      For this option, you might take a look to the „Red Screen of Death“ information to select the right boot device (it is in fact the first external drive!).
    2. „One Time Boot to CD-ROM“, if you added the virtual drive before.
  • Boot Menu

    Boot Menu

  • After selecting your device, the pre-installation screen will be shown. If you made it up here, the rest of the process should work properly. Just hit „Enter“ here to proceed or wait a couple of seconds for the installer to go further.
  • Pre-Install Screen

    Pre-Install Screen

    Loading data - ESXi installation

    Loading the necessary data for ESXi installation

  • In the next step, you will be welcomed to the „Installation of ESXi 5.5.0“. Just hit „Enter“ to proceed.
  • Installation starts here

    Installation of ESXi starts here

  • Accept the EULA by pressing „F11“.
  • Expect the EULA

    Accept the EULA

  • Now we have to select a disk to install the ESXi System to. There a listed two types of storage devices. Local and Remote ones. The locals include some volumes:
    1. HP Logical Volume with 2.73 TiB (on the Raid controller)
    2. USB 2.0 Flash Disk – The internal USB thumb drive with 3.73 GiB where we will install the ESXi to.
    3. An HP iLO device „LUN 00 Media 0“, that is our virtual CD-ROM drive, we mounted the ISO to.

    As we will use the RAID Logical Volume as a data storage for the virtual machines later, we will take the USB 2.0 Flash Disk instead.

  • Choose the destination

    Choose the destination

  • Now, we choose our language. In my case, this is German language.
  • Language settings

    Language settings

  • The installer is asking for a root password. Just choose any here – it is suggested to add a new account later in the vSphere Client after the installation.
  • Providing root password

    Providing root password

  • With „F11“ we can now start the installation, Cancel with „ESC“ or going back, taking changes with „F9“. Double check, that you choose the right device and proceed.
  • Confirm Install

    Confirm Install

  • The installation itself took about 10-12 minutes. Just wait and go for a coffee.
  • Installation in progress

    Installation in progress

  • Next showing the installation was completed successfully. At this stage, you should remove the installation media. Either remove the external USB thumb drive or the virtual drive CD-ROM and press „Enter“ to reboot.
  • Installation complete

    Installation complete

    Post-installation

    First boot

    The server will reboot and this will take a couple of minutes. When the Starting EXSi Server 5.5 Screen is shown, we are almost done. When the last (yellow) screen is presented, the server is ready for the deployment of virtual machines. You will see the URL that you can access in the middle left of the screen.

    Rebooting server

    Rebooting server

    Starting ESXi Server 5.5

    Starting ESXi Server 5.5

    ESXi Server ready

    ESXi Server ready

     

    Installing vSphere Client

    Open the presented URL. There is a link presented to download the vSphere Client. Download the VSphere Client and install it. Open the Client and enter the IP address. The user is „root“ and the password the one you entered during the installation process.

    Creating a Data Storage

    After Login to the Server, you need to add a data storage. The following message (in my case in German) should be similar for you:

    „The ESXi-Host does not provide a persistent storage“ and a bit below „To add storage, click here“, like shown in the following picture.

    Create a storage device

    Create a storage device

    Choose VMF-5 to add the 2TB+ support during this process.

    Add a new storage

    Add a new storage on the raid controller

    Add a new storage

    Choose VMF-5

    You are now able to work with your ESXi Server. Have fun with your teststand virtualization server!

    37 Comments

    1. IDEEPER 24. Juli 2014 at 06:59 - Reply

      Hi,

      Thanks a lot for this tutorial.
      I’ve the same device but i don’t change the CPU.
      I tried your second method but i doesn’t work because my fresh install don’t want to launch. I’ve a same and boring message „Operating system not found“ and my flash have ESXi installed.
      Have you do somtehing, in your RBSU, in particular ?

      I’m waiting for your response.
      Regards,

      IDEEPER

      • Sven Seiler 24. Juli 2014 at 18:00 - Reply

        Hey,

        you just might to have to take a look at this particular post I wrote during my installation. I described there how to change the boot behaviour. Step 4 should give you right directions. I hope that helps.

        Best regards
        Sven

    2. IDEEPER 25. Juli 2014 at 07:49 - Reply

      Hey,

      Thanks for your link, i’ve ever tried but it works.
      My problem is when ESXi finish to install on this USB flash drive.
      ESXi won’t load.

      I’ve tried to install on the same boot key like the install key.
      I’ve ever tried to launch an iso thru ILO (nfs link).
      At the end the result is the same.

      • Sven Seiler 27. Juli 2014 at 20:17 - Reply

        Okay, sounds a bit strange to me.
        Maybe you have the chance to test it with another thumb drive or even a SD Card mounted?

        BR
        Sven

    3. Mischa 1. August 2014 at 16:56 - Reply

      Hi Sven,

      thanks a lot for your good work.

      I’ve got a G7 (N54L) but I think you can help me too 😉

      Where do I get the serial-number from, which I have to enter after 60 days?
      I’ve got a VMWare-account but I don’t know how to get this serial?

      Best regards

      Mischa

    4. Larry 9. September 2014 at 23:25 - Reply

      Thank you for these instructions. They helped me get ESXi 5.5 installed on a ProLiant DL320e Gen8.

    5. Iain 4. Januar 2015 at 00:44 - Reply

      Hi,

      Have recently purchased the HP Micro server and have also got ESXI installed.
      Did you have any issues with the USB 3.0 ports?

      I ask as currently I am unable to see any device I plug into these ports yet on the USB 2.0 ports I have no issues?

      Regards

      Iain

      • Sven Seiler 6. Januar 2015 at 21:47 - Reply

        Hey Iain,

        I haven´t tested the USB 3.0 port so far. – Maybe you can find valueable information at TinkerTry? Th article I linked is dealing with the USB 3 pass thru ability.

    6. ursus schneider 3. März 2015 at 12:32 - Reply

      Hi Sven

      I have the same setup as you and everything is working perfectly. I would now like to update to the Update-2 .ISO that I downloaded from VMWare. Do you perhaps have a blog entry on how to do this?

      Thank you in advance

      • Sven Seiler 5. März 2015 at 23:11 - Reply

        Hey Ursus,

        sorry – haven´t found the time yet to update the system.
        But I do not think, it will be complicated at all.
        Best
        Sven

    7. Ingo 22. März 2015 at 11:31 - Reply

      Thanks a lot for this tutorial. I had the same problem and had read later that manual os installion only supports disks (cd).

      Best regards
      Ingo

    8. puru 28. März 2015 at 13:38 - Reply

      I followed all the step that was provided but
      Post installation in the last (yellow) screen encountering the error stating warning: DHCP lookup failed. You man be unable to access this system until you customize its network configuration.

      I am using HP proliant microserver Gen8 (G1610T)

      Thanks in advance.

      puru

    9. Peter V 29. März 2015 at 21:56 - Reply

      Thanks for the explanation.

      I also do not replace the processor.

      First I have also done a firmware upgrade.

      Through the ILO VMware 5.5 (HP version) installed on a USB stick. (mount ISO)

      After installation, VMware starts

      specs:

      HP MicroServer Gen 8 G1610t
      16 Gb Memory
      3x 1 TB disk.
      1x 120GB Samsung SSD.

    10. Charlie 25. Mai 2015 at 11:40 - Reply

      Hi, and thanks for this post.

      I made a setup exactly as yours but ESXi disk write performance is REALLY terrible, quite unusable.

      It seems br10i disable all disk caching built into the drives by default, and sadly since this raid controller hasn’t a backup battery enabling write caching is an act of faith.

      How do you resolved this performance problem?

      or if you haven’t noticed the problem what’s your raid configuration?

      cheers,

      • Sven Seiler 3. Juli 2015 at 19:31 - Reply

        Hey, Check the comment of hans and find the solution @https://communities.vmware.com/message/2496184

    11. Octavian 4. Juni 2015 at 12:30 - Reply

      Hi Sven,

      Did you had the chance to upgrade your B20i driver using SPP 2015.04.0 and observe very poor performance?
      I plan to install ESXi 6.0 on a microSD and use the integrated RAID controller for my 4x4TB WD Reds. All advice me to add a dedicated P222/P420 in order to achieve decent performance.
      Configuration will be : Xeon 1265L V2 / 16GB / 120GB SSD on SATA5 / 4x4TB WD Red / Samsung 16GB PRO microSD. VMs will be installed on the SSD (I plant o have 2, a Win Server and a Linux)

      • Sven Seiler 3. Juli 2015 at 19:31 - Reply

        Hey, Check the comment of hans and find the solution @https://communities.vmware.com/message/2496184

    12. hans 5. Juni 2015 at 13:43 - Reply

      The last ESXi 5.5 and the 6.0 release (from HP) have a bug in the hpvsa driver. These drivers cause problems with the data stores and thus the B120i (RAID) controller of the HP MicroServer Gen8.
      When installing ESXi 5.5 or 6 from the last ISOs, you must manually install the older storage driver (SCSI hpvsa-5.5.0-88).
      https://communities.vmware.com/message/2496184

    13. onsitehelper 2. Juli 2015 at 15:35 - Reply

      Hi, this might sound like a really noob question, but how do I pick where to install ESXi? I would like to install onto microSD but throughout the install process I wasn’t asked where to install ESXi.

      Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

      • Sven Seiler 3. Juli 2015 at 19:04 - Reply

        Hey please check out the „Method 2“ I presented. I installed on a USB thumb drive attached to the internally available port. You might work with an SD card, too. Check if the server boots from the SD card (is it available in the Bios?).
        You can also check out the technical white paper about SD cards on HP Proliant Servers.

    14. ivan 17. Juli 2015 at 09:51 - Reply

      thx man

    15. Antonio 17. Juli 2015 at 11:27 - Reply

      Hi,
      have someone need to install hp drivers for ESXi 5.5?
      I have mounted a w7 machine and I need to read some info from usb without using vSphere for mount devices.

      How can I do it?
      Thanks in advance.

    16. Antonio 20. Juli 2015 at 11:07 - Reply

      Can anybody can use the peripherial usb’s to pass some info to the virtual machines?
      I put an usb into one of the peripherial usb’s and my windows virtual machine can not mount the usb.
      Thanks in advance

    17. antoine 25. September 2015 at 02:02 - Reply

      I keep having issues adding RDM drives to vms. The VM keeps freezing and when I shut it down or force shut off, it never shuts off and I can’t reset it until I restart the host running ESXi. I have a proliant gen8 microserver with the SATA AHCI controller enabled (instead of the B120i RAID controller). I even tried adding a virtual hard disk. When I did, the VM couldn’t even start. The power on virtual machine task at the bottom got stuck at 0%. Is proliant microserver gen8 really built for ESXi? I have a feeling that it’s not fully supported. I have ESXi 6 (HP image) installed on a microSD card.

    18. Peter 22. Januar 2016 at 21:43 - Reply

      Thanks for this article! It helped me a lot!

    19. Robin Lutteke 21. Februar 2016 at 14:28 - Reply

      Great post! I’m trying to create a datastore. But I’m getting the error „is locked, possibly because some
      remote host encountered an error
      during a volume operation and could
      not recover.“. When I try to unlock it thru SSH. It’s saying that i cannot access the device. Do you know how I can fix this or what I’m doing wrong.

      Thanks!

    20. Marcus Spahn 29. Februar 2016 at 15:10 - Reply

      Hi, how did you manage the b120i raid settings working for vsphere – in my case I see each individual hdd instead of the defined raid array. 🙁

      • Sven Seiler 28. März 2016 at 21:37 - Reply

        Currently, I would try to go for a 5.5 version and after installation I would install the 6 „over it“. After that, you can follow this guide.

    21. Pino 23. März 2016 at 16:46 - Reply

      Hello Marcus,
      hello Sven,

      I’m facing the same problem like Marcus Spahn. I see both of the hdd’s, but there’s no logical drive (raid-array) that can be chosen to install on. 🙁

      • Sven Seiler 28. März 2016 at 21:38 - Reply

        Hey, I answered to Marcus question. I hope, that helps. Otherwise I have currently no access to the Gen8 server, so I can not try other solutions. :-/

    22. yass 3. April 2016 at 19:19 - Reply

      Hi,
      Thanks for this clear guidance.
      An trying to install ESXi on my hp microserver prolient gen8.
      I have downloaded the Esxi image of hp website. the installation process gone well until the step 10 of your guidance. then a message prompt up says“ Close failed in file object destructor: IOError: Errorno 2 ] no such file or directory.
      I had Windows Server 2012r2 installed in this microserver.

      Can someone help please.

      ta

    23. JQB 12. April 2016 at 13:06 - Reply

      Hi guys
      I’ve created a RAID 1 before installing ESXi 6 (smart array B120i RAID) . It was simple task.
      4x 1tb 7200 RPM HDDs.

      I was able to see the logical disk of 1.8gb inside the HP smart aray configuration.
      I was installing ESXi from USB drive to that logical Disk.
      Installation was completed but after the reboot I couldn’t see the operation system ie esxi.
      I’ve checked the physical and logical disks and can’t see my logical driver.
      Fatal error:
      „Dynamic smart array B120i RAID in embedded Slot cannot be configured.The controller did not respond …Hardware failure may have occurred !“
      Had no time to do anything on this server. Not sure whatsup

      It looks like the ESXi OS which I’ve installed on the Logical Disk fu**** everything.

      In the above article the installation was done on USB driver. Maybe I need to try that ?
      Can I format/delete the Dynamic smart array configuration so I can start from scratch ? create new Raid 1 ?

    24. Joop 6. Mai 2016 at 16:50 - Reply

      A step I had to do extra was registering the free license I had obtained for Vsphere. That required browsing to the IP-address of the server after booting, ginging in root and password and then adding a license under Manage-Licensing.
      But: thank you for this guide!!

    25. Sergio 19. Januar 2017 at 18:36 - Reply

      Hello, its ok if I set up a raid 5 and install the esxi on the local ILO? Or can I cause some damage to the server, in that case I’ve already done that 🙁 how can I fix it?

      Thanks

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