Tag Archive for VMware

NanoLab – Part 9 – Installing VMware vSphere ESXi 5.5 on Intel NUC

I successfully ran my VMware vSphere ESXi 5.1 Nanolab for 18 months on my pair of Intel NUC DC3217IYE hosts. Early this year I got around to upgrading to 5.5. I had experienced some issues with my vCenter Server Appliance so ended up just rebuilding the lab from scratch and reattaching my old data stores. Having written all of this up, I then promptly forgot to post it! So for the sake of continuity (before I do the same for 6.0 shortly), this article covers the process.

In addition I also purchased a 3rd node for my lab, the 4th Gen D34010WYKH model (also with a Core i3), with which I was able to test and prove the process on as it uses the same NIC chipset.

The following are updated instructions for installing vSphere 5.5 on Intel NUC (any model with the Intel® 82579V or Intel® I218V onboard NIC should work).

I recommend before you start, you upgrade the NUC to the latest firmware, to avoid any potential bugs (of which there were a few when they were first released). Copy the latest firmare image onto a USB stick, boot the NUC, hit F7 at the bios, find your firmware on the USB stick and let it do it’s thing:

Intel NUC Firmware Upgrade

Intel NUC Firmware Upgrade

vSphere 5.5 Install Requirements

  • A USB Stick. This should work on anything over 1-2GB but personally am using 8GB PNY Micro Sleek Attache & 16GB Kinston DataTraveler Micro drives as they’re tiny, so less likely to catch on anything as they stick out the back of the NUC box, and they cost less than £5 each.
  • A copy of VMware Workstation 8 / Fusion 6 or newer.
  • ESXi-Customizer 2.7.2 (created by Andreas Peetz)
    http://v-front.blogspot.com/p/esxi-customizer.html for adding VIBs to your image. NOTE: This can also be done by Powershell, but I like the GUI as it’s easy! (http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2012/04/using-the-vsphere-esxi-image-builder-cli.html)
  • The ESXi driver for the Intel® 82579V Gigabit Ethernet Controller (e.g. for the original models using ESXi 5.5):
  • OR The ESXi driver for the Intel® I218V Gigabit Ethernet Controller (e.g. for the Haswell based D34010U models):
  • (AND) The ESXi AHCI driver for the SATA controller (if you want to use local drives in the  Haswell based D34010U models):
    • sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64
    • If you do choose to add this in as well to your image, simply run the customiser twice, once for the network VIB, then a second time for the SATA vin, using the interim image as your source for the final image.

Process Overview

  • Create a customised ISO with the additional Intel driver.
  • Install ESXi to your USB stick using VMware Workstation / VMware Fusion and the customised ISO you will create below.
  • Plug in your NUC, insert the USB stick, boot and go!

Part One – Create the Custom ISO

  1. Run the ESXi-Customizer-v2.7.2.exe (latest version at time of writing).
  2. This will extract the customer to the directory of your choosing.
  3. Navigate to the new directory.
  4. Run the ESXi-Customizer.cmd batch file. This will open up the GUI, where you can configure the following options:
  • Path to your ESXi Installer
  • Path to the Intel driver downloaded previously
  • Path where you want the new ISO to be saved
  1. Ensure you tick the Create (U)EFI-bootable ISO checkbox.
ESXi-Customizer with 2.3.2 vib

ESXi-Customizer with 2.3.2 vib

This will output a new custom ESXi installer ISO called ESXi-5.x-Custom.iso or similar, in the path defined above.

Part Two – Install bootable ESXi to the USB stick.
I stress that this is my preferred way of doing this as an alternative is simply to burn your customised ISO to a CD/DVD and boot using a USB DVD-ROM. That would however be a whole lot slower, and waste a blank CD!

  1. Plug your chosen USB stick into your PC.
  2. Open VMware Workstation (8 or above), VMware Fusion, or whatever you use, ideally supporting the Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI option (allowing you to nest 64-bit VMs).
  3. Create a new VM, you can use any spec you like really, as ESXi always checks on boot, but I created one with the similar specs as my intended host, single socket, 2vCPU cores. RAM doesn’t really matter either but I use at least 4GB normally. This does not require a virtual hard disk.
  4. Once the VM is created, and before you boot it, edit the CPU settings and tick the Virtualize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI checkbox. This will reduce errors when installing ESXi (which checks to ensure it can virtualise 64-bit operating systems).

VMware Workstation Nesting

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 22.09.01

VMware Fusion Nesting

  1. Set the CD/DVD (IDE) configuration to Use ISO image file, and point this to the customised ISO created earlier.
  2. Once the above settings have been configured, power on the VM.
  3. As soon as the VM is powered on, in the bottom right of the screen, right click on the flash disk icon, and click Connect (Disconnect from Host).

Attach USB in VMware Workstation

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 21.38.18

Attach USB in VMware Fusion

  1. This will mount the USB stick inside the VM, and allow you to do a standard ESXi installation onto the stick.
ESXi Install

ESXi Install

  1. At the end of the installation, disconnect the stick, un-mount and unplug it.
Install Complete

Install Complete

Part Three – Boot and go!
This is the easy bit, assuming you don’t have any of the HDMI issues I mentioned in the first post!

  1. Plug your newly installed USB stick into the back of the NUC.
  2. Don’t forget to plug in a network cable (duh!) and keyboard for the initial configuration. If you wish to modify any bios settings (optional), you will also ideally need a mouse as the NUC runs Visual BIOS.
  3. Power on the NUC…
  4. Have fun!

That’s it!

Any questions/comments, please feel free to hit me up on twitter as I have recently disabled comments on my blog due to the insane volumes of spam bots they were attracting!

Quick Tip: Install a VIB into an Existing vSphere 5.5 ESXi Host

The following will likely work in other versions of vSphere, but I used it in vSphere 5.5 a while ago, then forgot to hit publish on this post!

In that case I had installed a new ESXi host and not included the custom VIB with the drivers for the SATA card. I did this deliberately as I thought I would have no need at this time to use the local HBA. The thing I forgot is that the host profiles I had created from other hosts included a local HBA, therefore the host profiles would not remediate without one. Annoying! So I used the following steps to manually add the specific VIB I needed (in this case sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.vib).

SSH to your ESXi host (having enabled the SSH server from the vSphere Client):

# ssh [email protected]<hostip>
# cd /tmp

 

Copy the vib file into the host image (in my case I had it stored on my web server, but you could equally use any other standard method to get the file onto the host):

# wget http://www.tekhead.org/wp-uploads/www.tekhead.org/sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.zip

 

Unzip the vib file:

# unzip sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.zip

 

Install the vib:

# esxcli software vib install -v file:/tmp/sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.vib
 
Installation Result
Message: The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for the changes to be effective.
Reboot Required: true
VIBs Installed: VFrontDe_bootbank_sata-xahci_1.10-1
VIBs Removed:
VIBs Skipped:

 

Check that the vib is installed:

# esxcli software vib list | grep -i <vib name in my case ahci>
sata-xahci   1.10-1   VFrontDe   CommunitySupported   2014-10-31

 

Remove the old files (no longer needed):

# rm sata-xahci-1.10-1.x86_64.*

 

Finally, reboot your ESXi host, job done!

 

VMworld Europe 2015 Day One Roundup – Partner Day

Well it has to be said that day one went off with a bang this year indeed (not least due to all the buzz about the Dell / EMC acquisition)!

Having arrived late on Sunday night, we still made it into the Fira Gran Via for 8.30am on Monday morning to register, have a wander round and hit the Hands on Labs before they started to get busy. I immediately got stuck into HOL-SDC-1630 Cloud-Native Apps: Bringing Microservices and Containers to the Software-Defined Data Centre. As the buzz on the street at this years event is all about Cloud Native Apps, I suspect this one will feature in the top 10 labs by the end of the week! For those people not attending VMworld, you should be able to get access to it soon after the event at http://labs.hol.vmware.com.

First lab out of the way, I headed along to Hall 8 for some of the partner event sessions. Obviously I can’t go into masses of detail but suffice to say that the first session was delivered by the inimitable orator, Joe Baguely on the subject of CNA. For me, he really brought things in to focus as he explained that his teenage daughter was already onto her 3rd bank, with the most recent being chosen based on the quality of the mobile banking app provided with her account. This really brings home the idea that many of the older companies around today need to start innovating, soon, or risk becoming irrelevant to the next generation!

After a pretty decent bit of lunch Chris Crafford talked us through some considerations and approaches for transforming legacy apps into something which looks a bit more cloudy / microservice-y. The key takeaway from this session for me was not to try to boil the ocean and redevelop your entire legacy application in one go unless you absolutely have to. Rather think about adding new features driven by business requirements and targeting existing performance bottlenecks using microservices instead, That way you can start to see more immediate benefits to your applications without running the risk of a massive redevelopment falling flat on its face!

My last session of the day was from Andy Kennedy, on the subject of “Factors to Consider as Part of a Holistic Security Architecture”. In summary this session gave some great insight into some of the challenges currently face in traditional security designs, and how NSX can help to solve them, with a liberal sprinkling of candour as to where NSX may not meet every requirement, and in those situations how to augment solutions with third party products. A refreshing view indeed! We also got a little insight into some of the announcements coming this week on the NSX front – interesting times indeed!

Finally I spent the evening catching up with new and old faces alike, at the VMware vExpert event at the Elephant bar & restaurant. The atmosphere was excellent, with many great conversations to be had. One of the most interesting to me was with CEO and co-founder of RuneCast, VCDX 74, and all round nice chap, Stanimir Markov. His company has come up with an idea which seems so incredibly simple I don’t know why nobody thought of it first, but these guys did and with any luck they will be very successful indeed!

Put simply, my understanding is that they monitor all of the latest KB articles from VMware, then via the use of their analyser appliance, they scan your environment configuration and logs to check whether you are potentially impacted by any emerging issues, faults or threats. This allows you to then mitigate them before they occur. What a great idea! If you want to find out more about them, I believe they have a booth at the Solutions Exchange, or you can check them out at https://www.runecast.biz. Well worth a conversation indeed, I’d say!

Anyway it’s getting late, so I’ll simply sign off with my favourite quote of the day today, curtesy of Mr Kennedy, which frankly sums up the optimum approach to IT Architecture IMHO:

A simple solution deployed well is far more effective than a complex solution deployed badly.

Dell finds $67Bn down the back of the sofa – what to do with it? Buy EMC of course!

Dell Acquires EMC

This is just a quick post as I should be concentrating on VMworld right now, but (obviously) all everyone is talking about at the event is the momentous news that Dell are to acquire EMC for a record $67 Billion! There are so many possible implications from this event, so many questions which arise immediately and probably many more as the dust starts to settle. For example:

  • Dell have a very strong relationship with Microsoft, not only providing large quantities of infrastructure into MS corporate and Azure, but collaborating closely on products like the Microsoft Azure Pack etc. How do MS feel about a key partner buying one of their biggest competitors (VMware) and how will they react?
  • How many EMC and Dell products will be dead in the water within 6-12 months? If you are in the middle of your buying cycle right now, would you want to actually make a long term investment into either? This could be a great time for some of the other major players and startups to expand their market shares.
  • What is the future of VMware? They are still technically independent, though 80% owned by EMC. Would Dell want to maintain that position, buy up the remaining stock, or perhaps even sell off VMware to pay off a good chunk of the EMC purchase price? The market certainly didn’t seem too impressed as the VMware stock price dropped over 10% after the deal become public!
  • What will the likes of HP do now that their biggest competitor has just bought one of their biggest partners?
  • Will the SEC approve the merger (I am certainly no expert on US financial law, but I assume they will have some sort of say over this due to the scale of the deal)?
  • Maybe all of the above are moot, and everyone will continue to get along as Frenemies / Co-petitors (©2015 Jane Rimmer)… then again, maybe not?

People have been talking about Joe Tucci’s retirement for years now; I doubt anyone imagined it would end with this!

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