Building a Hyperion Home Lab: The Build and Installing ESXi

Before we go to far, let’s consolidate what we’ve done so far.  Here’s a list of the entire series:

Ok, now that we have all of this hardware, what do we do with it?  Build a computer!  I won’t go too much into the details, as you can find plenty of information about this using Google, but here are the basic steps I took:

  1. Get the case ready by moving the motherboard stays around to match up to your motherboard.  For me, I had a 4U case left over from another project, so I used that rather than the Norco from my guide.
  2. Install your motherboard.  For me, this was an ASRock Server motherboard from the guide.
  3. Connect your front panel wires: For me, this included the power switch, reset switch, power LED, HD LED, and USB ports.
  4. Install and connect any case fans.  For me, I used the one’s that came with my 4U case.
  5. Install your processor(s).  For me, this was a pair of E5-2670’s.
  6. Install your memory.  For me, this was 16 x 8 GB DDR3 modules.
  7. Install your power supply and hook it to the motherboard.  For me, I chose the slightly cheaper than my guide Seasonic M12II.  I may update the guide depending on how I like it.
  8. Install your heat sinks.  For me this was a pair of Noctua 4U compatible models.
  9. Install any PCIe cards.  For me, this included an Intel X520-DA1 10GB network card and an Areca 1880i RAID adapter.
  10. Install your hard drives.  For me, this included one Sandisk Ullra II 960GB drive along with four Samsung 840 Pro’s that I moved from another system.

Here’s a shot of my system during the build:

2016-03-06 11.40.08

Ok…we have the computer built…now what?  It’s time for software.  If you want to go the route of using your new computer as a multi-purpose system, then you will likely want to install VMWare Workstation or Oracle’s VirtualBox.  At this point, I would recommend heading over to Jake’s blog, as I have no desire to redo all of the great work he has already done.  You can find his entire guide here.  You can skip straight to the VMWare stuff here.

But what about ESXi?  To start our ESXi installation, we need a way to install ESXi.  We also need a place to install ESXi.  What if we could use the same location for both?  Sounds good…let’s do that.  First, we have a few prerequisites:

  • Download the installation ISO for VMWare ESXi.  I am using ESXi 6.0 with Update 1.  The name of my ISO is VMware-VMvisor-Installer-6.0.0.update01-3029758.x86_64.iso.
  • Download Rufus.  Rufus is a great tool for creating bootable USB thumb drives.  You can get the portable version of 2.7 here.
  • Purchase a USB thumb drive.  I use a 8GB SanDisk Cruzer Fit from Amazon.  I’ve used SanDisk drives for this purpose on two other systems.

So I’ve downloaded my ISO, I’ve downloaded Rufus, I’ve purchased my thumb drive and I’m ready to make an ISO.  Now what?  Try this:

  1. Fire up Rufus.  It may prompt you to elevate to administrator priveledges, so do that.  It may also ask you about updates, I just answer No and move on.  It should look something like this:ESXiInstall01
  2. It may have picked your USB device by default, if not, choose the proper device:ESXiInstall02
  3. Make sure that MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI is selected:ESXiInstall03
  4. Select FAT32:ESXiInstall04
  5. Select 4096 bytes:ESXiInstall05
  6. Select ISO Image and then click on the ISO button:ESXiInstall07
  7. Select the ESXi ISO image and click Open:ESXiInstall08
  8. Enter a volume label:ESXiInstall06
  9. Verify all of your settings and click Start.ESXiInstall09
  10. Click Yes when it tells you that something is obsolete:ESXiInstall10
  11. Click OK to erase the selected device and create your bootable thumb drive:ESXiInstall11
  12. Assuming all goes well, it should complete and look something like this:


Now let’s plug our new thumb drive into our new computer!  You may need to modify your BIOS/UEFI settings to make the thumb drive your primary boot device.  Once you do that, you should be ready to run through the installation.

  1. You can either hit enter or wait for the automatic boot to take you into the installer:
  2. The installer will load:ESXiInstall13
  3. And load…ESXiInstall15
  4. Press Enter to continue:ESXiInstall16
  5. Press F11 to agree and continue:ESXiInstall17
  6. Select your USB drive from the list and press Enter.  The capacity should give it away.ESXiInstall18
  7. Press Enter to confirm that you don’t have anything on the USB drive that you care about, because it’s about to be erased:ESXiInstall19
  8. Choose your language and press Enter:ESXiInstall20
  9. Enter a password for your root account, enter it again, andpress Enter:ESXiInstall21
  10. Press F11 to start to installation to your USB drive:ESXiInstall22
  11. Watch the progress bar, grab a cup of coffee, get a snack:ESXiInstall23
  12. After a reboot, you should be booting into ESXi from your USB drive and see something like this:ESXiInstall24

And now we have ESXi running on our new computer.  Now go build a Hyperion environment!  Once you get to this point, I’d highly recommend taking a look at Jake’s series on building out your own environment.  You can see the entire series here.

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