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VMware server home lab

This post will hopefully help anyone wanting a decent home lab and avoid some of the pitfalls.

Hardware

  • Fractal Design Node 304
    For a small foot print fitting more or less anywhere.
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
    Probably the most used CPU fan in the world and really quiet
  • ASRock E3C236D2I
    Has IPMI (lights out management), two network interfaces and an internal USB 3.0 port
  • Corsair CS450M 450W
    Gold rated and module based power supply.
  • Intel Xeon E3-1260Lv5 2,9GHz Socket 1151 Tray
    Quad core with hyper threading using 45W
  • Crucial – DDR4 – 32 GB  (2 x 16 GB) – DIMM 288-pin – 2133 MHz / PC4-17000 – CL15 – 1.2 V – Unbuffered – ECC
    Unbuffered ECC because the mother board does not support registered ECC
  • 16GB USB 3.0 pendrive
    To run ESXi on
  • Samsung 850 EVO Series MZ-75E500B 500GB
    For fast internal storage

IPMI
Here’s where I ran into problems. First, I could not get IPMI to work properly.
Since it uses Java and Chrome does not support it anymore because of security I had to turn to IE (Edge nowadays) which does not care about such silly things as security. 🙂

But, the client only started the first time, and then it said something like “failed to download jviewer” which indicated that my browser was not able to launch the client. I reset the browser configuration and got it working sporadically, but not nearly good enough.
Then, by habit I accidentally tried Chrome again and upon clicking on the IPMI client I saw that Chrome actually downloaded a jnlp file. I tried opening it and voila, the client launched, every time!

ESXi Installation

Nice, then I figured I could move on to installing VMware and used Rufus to create a bootable ESXi 6.0 installation using an iso I downloaded from VMware. The installation started as expected but in the end of it I ran into this error message:
“multiboot could not setup the video subsystem solution”

Forum posts and articles online suggested that this was because of the low resolution in combination with UEFI Bios. Some solutions was to install the iso with a non-UEFI option, but I could not find a way to do that.
So I tried connecting the server to a monitor via a VGA cable. Sadly, this caused the server not to go past post at all. As a last attempt to solve it the server was connected to my projector and then it went past post, and the installation finished without problems.

So, if you have the same problem I had. Skip IPMI installations and try a monitor instead. 🙂

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8 Comments

  1. harisma

    Hi,

    I have almost exactly the same hardware configuration as yourself and cannot get ESXi 6.0u2 to install without the fabled error.

    Any chance I could pick your brains on the settings in your BIOS?

    Can you pass comment on the stability of the installation on that hardware in the months you have had it running?

    • Hi!
      Are you referring to the multiboot error? If that’s the case I would advice you to try different screens, perhaps even your tv. As for stability, it’s been fantastic. No problems at all. 🙂

      /Patrik

      • harisma

        I was indeed referring to that error.
        I did after some further experimentation get the system past that error only to be presented with un-reliable boots after that fact. I have since moved to experimentation with Proxmox which is proving fruitful. I’d love to chat further privately about your setup. I presume you can see my e-mail address during comment moderation.

        Thanks
        harisma

        • Will do. 🙂

          • Matt

            Hello,

            I’m planning a very similar build a would like to know if you were able to help harisma install esxi successfully. If so, please share what you did to fix it.

            @harisma
            How were you eventually able to get past the multiboot error?

            Please elaborate on the “un-reliable boots” problem and if you were able to resolve it.

            == My build plan ==

            Xeon E3-1245 v5
            ASRock E3C236D2I
            Crucial 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR4 SDRAM ECC

  2. Hi Matt
    I don’t think the memory configuration you chose will work as they’re registered modules.

    Looking at this page:
    http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/ct32g4rfd4213

    My problems and Harismas problems are a bit different. He’s using the machine for storage, and I’m only running servers on mine using 2 SSD while keeping the main storage on a Synology NAS.

    No custom drivers was needed at all. As soon as I skipped my monitors and used a lower resolution device the installation started as expected.

    /Patrik

    • Matt

      Thank you for your reply!

      I’m going to take your advice and get non-registered ECC RAM.

      One last question, you mentioned that Harismas problem was related to storage. Are all of the SATA ports supported by ESXI?

      Regards,
      -Matt

      • Good choice. 🙂 I think his problems was related to his LSI 92110-8i raid card. I think all of the ports are supported. I haven’t encountered any issues at least.

        /Patrik

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