ESXi on an HP Microserver Part 1: Windows Home Server

After upgrading the amount of RAM in the HP Microserver to 8GB (the maximum) allowable, I decided to install ESXi on it so that I could run several virtual machines efficiently upon it.  For now I want 2 virtual machines (more shall be added later don’t worry!), namely a Windows Home Server v1 (WHS) and a Linux based IP telephony server based on Elastix.

I wanted to install the ESXi Hypervisor to a spare 1GB USB Flash Drive so I could take a backup of the ESXi install and configuration simply by copying the contents of the USB stick to another machine from time to time.  To facilitate this type of install the HP Microserver has an internal USB port on the motherboard which looks like it was specifically designed to take a USB Flash drive, and setting up USB boot in the HP Microserver BIOS is a piece of cake.

There are several good articles out there on the web that talk about installing ESXi to a flash drive so rather than repeat what they have said I’ll link you to a good one here. Suffice to say it is really easy to install.

I have 4 hard disks in my Microserver, the default 160GB HP disk, a 250GB disk and 2 x 1TB Samsung drives.  I’ve created 4 datastores, one for each disk.  On the 160GB datastore I have approximately 2 x 80GB VM Disks for the virtual OS installs of WHS and Elastix, and I will use 1 of the 1TB datastores as backup space for WHS.  **THIS IS IMPORTANT** If you want datastore sizes to be greater than 256GB you must increase the block size of the datastore from it’s default of 1MB to something applicable for the size of disk you are wanting to provision.  Since I have 1TB disks a block size of 4MB is perfect in order to be able to provision a virtual disk of approximately that size (after VM overheads it’s limited to 931GB)

The install of WHS was not entirely trouble free.  Providing you have the correct LSI driver file loaded as a floppy disk image in ESXi (see article linked to above for LSI file) the install runs OK (you will have to load the drivers from the floppy when prompted). However I had a tremendous problems getting my mouse input working correctly during install.  I don’t know if this is to do with Logitech’s drivers for the mouse etc, but I had lots of problems getting the mouse to correctly move within the console.  Messing with the myriad of buttons on the mouse I managed to regain control enough to complete the installation but it was intensely frustrating!  After installation of the VMTools for the guest OS the mouse then behaved normally.

Following WHS install the outstanding patches and windows updates were carried out and the storage for the backup of my network was provisioned.  Next came the re-install of the WHS connector on the client PC’s (the server was previously used solely as a physical WHS box).  However there was a problem with one of the client PC’s upon backup.  When it hit a certain percentage complete the client PC would blue screen and reboot itself.  An article on the web here described the same issue I was having but sadly the fix indicated in the thread did not work for this machine.  The end result for that client PC was a complete factory reset and re-install.  I have several other backup sources (and so should you!) so that wasn’t a problem and following re-installation the WHS connector worked as it should backing up the machine to the server.

Conclusion

For small scale deployments the HP Microserver makes a great platform for consolidating low utilisation physical servers upon ESXi.  Windows Home Server runs very well as a virtualised system and I’m looking forward to getting other server systems installed on ESXi in due course.

This entry was posted in Articles, Virtualisation, VMWare, Windows Home Server. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to ESXi on an HP Microserver Part 1: Windows Home Server

  1. Gabi says:

    Hi,

    Glad to come across this, how you getting on with the setup and also, Elastix?

    Thanks,

    G.

  2. tino says:

    Hi Gabi,

    It’s performing well thanks. Elastix is installed as a virtual machine along with WHS v1, Windows 2008 Server and a Windows 7 client and all are working fine on the Microserver. I was worried about performance and possible latency issues with Elastix running within a virtual machine but I needn’t have worried. Call quality is excellent, whether using a Snom 300 handset, softphones or SIP software on a smartphone.

    Regards

    Tino

  3. Mietserver says:

    I?ll immediately grasp your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me recognize so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  4. tino says:

    You can subscribe to our newsletter (usually issued quarterly) using the subscribe button in the top right hand corner of the website. If you want to keep abreast of our articles then you can follow our twitter feed:

    https://twitter.com/#!/forzait

  5. Mark says:

    Very nice post, I had my Micro Server delivered yesterday, just to find that ESXi would not install on stock 2GB.

    I’ve ordered some more (4GB no-ECC) of amazon, but it will take a few days to deliver.

    Googling around has returned however this howto: http://simon-simonnaes.blogspot.no/2012/09/installing-esxi-5-on-less-than-2gb-ram.html.

    There are a few typos on there, i.e the path to the file but I ran find on /usr/lib/vmware to get what I needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>