How to install ESXi 6.0

Since I have a tutorial on how to install XPenology on ESXi I should probably also make a post on how to install ESXi.

While trying to configure the perfect server I’ve been testing out a lot of different hypervisors and configurations. After much trial and error I finally decided on using VMware ESXi which is a popular type-1 hypervisors which isn’t just awesome, but also available for free. Two of the main points for me is ease of use and compability, both in which ESXi excels in. Compared to Hyper-V, ESXi supports both hardware in passthrough mode and virtualizing of non-standard operating systems such as Mac OS X.

Requirements

In order to install VMware ESXi you’ll need a physical computer/server with compatible hardware and a USB flash drives larger then 4GB to install the hypervisor from and on. The ESXi installer is loaded into memory, so it’s possible to use a single USB flash drive as the source and destination. While it’s possible to install ESXi on a harddrive, it’s not recommended to do so. There’s just no point of wasting precious hard disk storage space on the hypervisor itself as it will run from memory once booted.

If you want to give virtual machines access to particular hardware such as a SATA or USB controller I also recommend to buy this as a separate PCIe card. Enabling DirectPath I/O (passthrough) on hardware on the motherboard may or may not work in many cases, especially on consumer grade hardware.

Install the server

First of all you’ll need to get a copy of the installation medium and a valid license. Fortunately it’s easy to obtain and the only thing you’ll have to do is to register at VMware.com. Follow the registration process carefully and you should be able to download the ISO file. Once you have the ISO file you can use a utility such as Rufus to create a bootable USB drive from it.

Next step is to insert both USB flash drives into your server and boot from the bootable USB drive you just created. From here it’s just to follow the on screen instructions, grab a coffee and wait. The installation procedure is one of the most beautiful, simple and intuitive I’ve ever encountered and you should have no trouble installing ESXi. When done remove the bootable USB drive and reboot the server. After the reboot you should configure the basics such as setting a static IP address and proper hostname.

Install the client

In order to be able to manage the server may either download the VMware vSphere Client from the VMware portal or directly from you server by navigating to it’s IP address in your web browser. The free version of vSphere is quite limited and you shouldn’t have any problems navigating around, configuring new virtual machines and other basic tasks as long as you are somewhat familiar with other hypervisors.

A big thank you to Proxy5 for suggesting ESXi Embedded Host Client as an alternative to the desktop client. While it’s still in development with a few known bugs on the list, it’s definitely worth checking out!

 

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11 comments, add yours.

Proxy5

Hi,

I ESXi 6.0 I use at home. I recommend this to the client: https://labs.vmware.com/flings/esxi-embedded-host-client

Proxy5

Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause

Author

Hi, Thanks for the tip! I remember looking at this project quite some time ago, but I think that was before the initial release… Will be fun to give it a spin.

“Known issue: On ESXi hosts which are assigned a VMware vSphere Hypervisor license, all modification operations will fail silently. We are working on a solution to this issue.”

Isn’t that the default free version license they are talking about? It still works for you?

Proxy5

Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause

Author

Awesome! Thanks for the update!

Matt

Hi!
You should add instructions for unattended installation which is really handy on headless ESXi installs.
I use it all the time on my Microservers which don’t have the remote functionality OOB.

Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause

Author

Thanks for the suggestion. Unattended ESXi Installation only makes real sense when deploying multiple servers or as you mention, lack the remote functionality. I’ll look into it when I get the time and update the post accordingly. 🙂

Matt

Yes granted but it also makes life alot easier when the USB fails and you need to reinstall. It is literally only a 2 file edit where in my case it specifically states to create an MBR boot and the second edit is for hardcoding network and hostname.

Anyway, I’m glad I found your blog because it mimics my own lab environment needs and actually the timeline is very similar to what I’ve done.

Matt

Tips for future blog posts:

* Linked clone machines – perfect for home labs. Have a master install which you snapshot and use as a base for other instances. Conserves disk space and you can put the master image on a faster disksystem.

* Monitoring and alerts – I use Observium (http://www.observium.org/) since a few years and it is a nice balance between looks and functionality. Currently looking for other options such as NewRelic Server monitoring but that unfortuanetly lacks support for OSX which I would like to monitor.

Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause

Author

* Linked clone machines – Awesome suggestion. I’ve though of that before, but totally forgot about it! Thanks! It’s added to the list.

* Monitoring and alerts – I’ve been jumping a bit back and forth between Observium and Munin. While I love statistics and alerts I haven’t found the time to get it properly up and running yet. Munin is great for simple things and that it’s easy to customize so it can monitor just about anything from network to the temperature outside.

rhinospray

Hi,
you can also install ESXi with just one flash drive. The ESXi installer is loaded in memory, so you can use that same flash drive as target for install.

Benjamin Krause

Benjamin Krause

Author

Thanks for pointing that out! I’ve updated the post. 🙂

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