Installing VMWare ESXi 5.0 / Hypervisor on a HP Proliant N40 MicroServer
OK, so I’ve just taken delivery of a microserver, a 2TB HDD, and 8GB RAM. Not completely sure what I want to do with it first, so I decided to install ESXi, and then I can get it to do everything 🙂
Since it’s not remotely manageable, and it only has VGA out, I’ve not included screenshots. But you’ve found this post because you were googling the exact same thing, not because you follow this blog avidly, so hopefully you’ll forgive aesthetics.
1. Download ESXi from VMware
The basic version is free, but can only be managed by a thick client. Fine. You can download it here.
2. Install ESXi to a bootable USB to use in the MicroServer
You’ve just downloaded a VMWare ISO – CD image. My Microserver doesn’t have a CD drive. Not to worry – I built a bootable USB flash drive using the instructions here. In case those are no longer available – you basically download UNetbootin (I used Windows version), run it, give it the ISO and the USB drive letter, and away it goes.
BUT – I don’t like installing apps willy-nilly on my laptop, even nice light ones like UNetbootin. So I ran it within VMWare Workstation 7 on my Win7 x64 laptop – reading from a copy of the ISO file inside the VM (not mounted as a virtual CD drive), and writing to the flash USB via the virtual USB controller. Guess what – it worked.
3. Put the USB inside the Microserver, and fire it up
The N40 has an internal USB slot, which is great for bootable flash drives. Opened the door, slotted it in, and booted. It automatically prioritised that USB, booted, loaded the installer into RAM, and then ran the installer.
Note the USB is not a live USB to start with – you can’t run ESXi from it straight away. You have to run the Installer, and then install over the very USB you just loaded it from. Don’t worry, it works. At this point, it asks for a root password.
4. Boot and configure ESXi server
At this point, it reboots, then boots off the USB again, and this time enters ESXi proper. You can now make configs such as IP address, My network has DHCP, so it automatically picked up an IP.
5. Install the client on your laptop
Windows EXE. It was on the page under the ESXi download. Or, if you missed that, it’s also on the ESXi server – browse to its IP in a web browser, and download the installers. Job done.
6. Start playing with your new VMWare infrastructure
It’s that easy. Since I intend to test the performance with various apps before ordering more drives, I’m happy to leave the hypervisor on the bootable USB. If/when I upgrade or reconfigure, I hope I can just whip the USB out, re-write it, put it back in, and keep working with the same drives and VMs as before.