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!