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!
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:
- Hardwareluxx with a lot of (German) information about hardware compatibility
- Installing a Xeon E3-1230 v2 on b3n.org
- A good overview of hardware specs on techhead.co
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.
Open the “Maintenance section” on the right and check „Firmware-Upgrade“ there.
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.
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.
- Log in again to your iLO web view and open the mentioned remote console again.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Both of the ways should work for the following install process.
The main installation process
- Boot your server and hit „F11“ to go to the boot menu.
- „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!).
- „One Time Boot to CD-ROM“, if you added the virtual drive before.
- HP Logical Volume with 2.73 TiB (on the Raid controller)
- USB 2.0 Flash Disk – The internal USB thumb drive with 3.73 GiB where we will install the ESXi to.
- 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.
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.
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.
Choose VMF-5 to add the 2TB+ support during this process.
You are now able to work with your ESXi Server. Have fun with your teststand virtualization server!