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Can this run vmWare ESXi ?

Can this run vmWare ESXi ?

If yes, you can get a few and set up a home virtualization lab.

Comments

  • Richard HughesRichard Hughes Posts: 12New Member
    If someone out there has the board, you can get the files here : https://my.vmware.com/en/web/vmware/evalcenter?p=free-esxi6
  • FaiFai Posts: 5New Member
    ESXi 6 U6 installation media won't boot. stop at loading kernel.
  • Richard HughesRichard Hughes Posts: 12New Member
    You may have to go into the bios and disable some non standard features to make the host look more generic.

    IIRC I have seen instructions like that here: http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/apple
  • Richard HughesRichard Hughes Posts: 12New Member
    THANKS SO MUCH FOR CHECKING THIS OUT! :)
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    i can confirm, that the up-board (4 GB RAM Version) can run ESXi 6.0
    The installation is far from straightforward but it will eventually work

    Currently i am still struggling to enable the eMMC blockdevice for vmware - if that does not work i will start the virtual machines from usb-storage.

    As soon as i am done, i will post my results here.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    i will post detailed instructions later on, bit busy right now, but to get you started:

    when you start the installation of the esxi it seems to crash on loading the kernel. this is not true. esx simply can't manage to enter a valid video mode on the up (i tried many admin-settings in the bios to fix the gpu settings, but had no success - if anyone manages that, please tell me).

    Important: you will need a patched image with support for realtek nics.
    Here is the driver: https://vibsdepot.v-front.de/wiki/index.php/Net55-r8168
    Read this on how to build your custom iso: http://www.v-front.de/2013/12/announcing-v-front-online-depot-for.html

    Also: within the BIOS the option vor "VT-x" has to be enabled

    What you can do with this information:
    try an unattended installation, pxe boot or - this is what i did: install esxi on another machine (more precisly: i installed it via vmware player onto an usb hdd) to a usb drive and configure it there. then connect the usb device to the up, and boot from there.

    this should get you going.

    The usb-storage is a bit tricky on esxi. the device from which you boot, can be used as datastore. any other usb device will be in passthrough mode and not be available for datastore.
    this can be changed easily, just look for something like this http://www.virten.net/2015/10/usb-devices-as-vmfs-datastore-in-vsphere-esxi-6-0/ or that https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/worlds-first-esxi-datastore-external-usb-storage-chee-wee-

    if if find the time i will try to compile a custom driver/module for the sdhci-pci for vmware to get a working eMMC, but this task is not trivial. If anyone wants to help please contact me.
  • Kenneth ColeyKenneth Coley Posts: 35New Member
    Not sure what the value of running ESXi on a board that only has 4 GB of memory?? What goal were you trying to accomplish. Perhaps using Windows 10 with Hyper-V is a better option, or linux with KVM. At least on those, the main OS is still available for use. ESXi really is designed for machines with much more memory.
  • FaiFai Posts: 5New Member
    Testing for hypervisor based features? Install OS / Virtual Appliance not supported by UP board, or not working well in Hyper-V / KVM.
    a lots of reason.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    edited October 2016
    konakcc wrote:
    Not sure what the value of running ESXi on a board that only has 4 GB of memory?? What goal were you trying to accomplish. Perhaps using Windows 10 with Hyper-V is a better option, or linux with KVM. At least on those, the main OS is still available for use. ESXi really is designed for machines with much more memory.

    this is a typical reply found in forums.
    Well, i don't have a specific reason, i saw some people trying to do it, who needed help. Why install ESXi on this machine? Because i can. Simple as that.

    I did run a full blown E-Mail/Webserver/uPNP Server (based on Gentoo) on a RPi, the upBoard has alot more memory so i switched to that machine ( not to mention the benefit of x86_64). Being able to virtualize the whole machine seems valid to me.

    Another thing: at the end of halloween, there will be the next kickstarter campaign for the up-board reloaded (or whatever the name will be), maybe this machine will have even more ram? Running multiple linux OS'es on the 4GB version is still pretty neat, me thinks =)
  • Kenneth ColeyKenneth Coley Posts: 35New Member
    The CherryTrail processor is the smallest full fledge x86 processor Intel makes. I doesn't have all the hardware you really need for virtualization. It has limitation of 4 GB of memory, and its the last of its kind. Nothing newer on the Intel roadmap. If you are simply trying to learn or test ESX, you might find that a normal desktop with 16 GB of memory would be better suited. If the goal is to run multiple applications (isolated), then you probably are going to run linux anyways, to KVM might be better suited to the task. You may also find that an array of RPI3s offer a better solution. No single solution fits all requirements. I wasn't trying to bash ESX, but wanted to provide alternates that might better fit the requirement.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    edited October 2016
    ah ok, i understand your point now. no hard feelings anyway ;-)

    Personally, i did not want to use ESX, i always go for bare metal with new devices. But if others need help, i try to help them.
    Well, i think i will never go back using RPi for Servers (i have many other use-cases for them) because i really love the x86 instruction set in a 2 watt SoC.
    Well let's see, what AAEON has up it's sleeves for the next generation ;-)
  • Kenneth ColeyKenneth Coley Posts: 35New Member
    I agree, this is a great chip at 2W. It is a shame Intel killed off all its children.
  • FaiFai Posts: 5New Member
    In fact I am running docker on UP Board too... not ESXi.. just try to help if I can.
  • David OwenDavid Owen Posts: 1New Member
    David, I'm trying to get vSphere ESXi on the Up2 and have hit the exact eMMC Storage issue you had. Did you ever manage to overcome this? I can install it using USB drives but this not ideal.
  • Kenneth ColeyKenneth Coley Posts: 35New Member
    With only 4 GB of RAM and quad core, its going to be very limited.
    You can get an i7 based desktop for under $1000 that will have
    probably 5-10 times the power.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    edited August 2017
    vmackem2 wrote:
    David, I'm trying to get vSphere ESXi on the Up2 and have hit the exact eMMC Storage issue you had. Did you ever manage to overcome this? I can install it using USB drives but this not ideal.

    Hi there,

    i installed the toolchain to compile my own driver which could be taken from linux kernel tree. But i never finished the driver, mainly because i switched to an USB-Boot option.
    ESXi 6.5 ships with a new ahci driver but this one still does not work with the UP or the UP2.

    I currently run ESXi 6.0 on an UP2 with 8 GB RAM and the 128 eMMC (which isn't accessible within ESX - maybe someday i will fix that).

    My current setup boots from a small USB-Stick (16 GB is enough; 8GB should be possible too) which holds the ESXi and a small VM to which i connected 2 USB-HDDs. Those 2 drives are combined into a software RAID1 within the small VM and the resulting block-device is exported via iSCSI back to the ESX-Host. That way i have a redundant storage for the "real" VMs which reside on the RAID1.
    Even more, the USB-Stick itself can fail - i always have an exact copy. Each day, the small VM also writes the current ESX config to the RAID1. If i boot from the other USB-Stick (which obviously has an older config file), the small VM then restores the last written config-file (stored on the HDD-RAID) to the ESX and reboots.
    Even if my UP2 and my UP would fail, i can simply run the ESX with all VMs: simply install VMWare-Player on your Workstation, connect the Boot-USB-Stick and the 2 USB-HDDs to the new VM and boot it.
    If you ask me: great and redundant virtual infrastructure - with very low power consumption.

    I attached a small picture for you, the planning phase back then for the old UP-Board - sorry, most of it is in german, but you might get the idea.

    auTqKIY.jpg

    Best regards,
    David
  • Simon RöblreiterSimon Röblreiter Posts: 3New Member
    @David:

    I was able to get ESXi 6.0 running by first installing the custom ISO on my desktop Computer,
    which happens to have a NIC of the same RTL-family.
    After that, I simply plugged the resulting USB-Stick into the UP and it booted. (at least as long as no monitor was connected)
    What I am failing to do now, is creating a local datastore on this stick.
    You stated, that you are running a small VM on it which basically provides iSCSI-functionality.
    How did you do that?
    I can't find any option to create a datastore on the drive that holds the ESXi-partitions.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    edited November 2017
    wiresquid wrote:
    I can't find any option to create a datastore on the drive that holds the ESXi-partitions.

    This Link will help you: http://www.virten.net/2015/10/usb-devices-as-vmfs-datastore-in-vsphere-esxi-6-0/

    It is important to stop the usbarbitrator service, otherwise you won't be able to use the device.
    Please follow the instructions on the linked page - but don't pull the usb-stick - that should do the trick

    Best regards
    David
  • Simon RöblreiterSimon Röblreiter Posts: 3New Member
    edited November 2017
    Thanks. I actually had found this earlier, but did not believe that this could be the right way to do it.
    My main concern was that this guide is talking about using a dedicated USB-Stick as datastore.
    I thought that this can't be what you used, because you managed to do it on the very same drive which also holds the ESXi partitions.
    After your answer I re-read everything on virten.net and discovered this in the comment section.
    I assume that this is what you used.
    I'll try that and report back. Thanks again.
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    As far as I can remember I could pretty much just follow the steps on the virten site.
    But I might be wrong.

    Please just post your result- in case of failure I can pretty quickly retrace my steps.
    Ultimately this will work, I promise :-)
  • Simon RöblreiterSimon Röblreiter Posts: 3New Member
    Success! :woohoo:

    I followed the steps on horizonbits.com.
    After the last step on that page, I could not come up with an idea why I still would need to stop the arbitrator service.
    As the USB device that holds my vmfs-formatted Partition also is the boot device, I was pretty sure that the arbitrator
    won't do anything to it.
    The first boot and a few additional reboots proved this theory right.
    I will now try and set up freeNAS on this datastore and basically copy your idea.
    Missing hardware is ordered and on its way.
    Maybe I'll write a complete guide as soon as everything is up and running as I want it.

    Thanks again for the hint. :)
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    Great! Hopefully you will have big fun setting up your new system :-)

    Best wishes and happy hacking
    David
  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member
    edited February 7

    Update: on the Up Squared with the latest EFI/BIOS Update (3.3, maybe earlier version works too) the above mentioned bug that no video is available when booting the ESX is not present anymore.

    So you could install the ESX without the need of a virtual machine to setup everything. I think that's great :-)

    Edit: correction: it will show Graphics Output, but only until another step. Well then, everything stays the same, you can run ESX (tested up to 6.5) on Up and Up-Squared, but you have to install it using my instructions above.

  • DavidDavid Posts: 30New Member

    Edit 2: it seems, after fiddling a bit with the settings, that the Up Squared can fully boot ESX 6.5 even with graphics output. Great again :-)

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