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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: ESX under VMWare Workstation

vSphere RC RAM Under VMware Workstation: How Low Can You Go?

 

Getting ESX (in it’s various versions) to run under VMware Workstation has proven to be a very popular article on this blog, if you are a consultant who has to do product demos of VI3/vSphere or are studying for your VCP it’s a very useful thing to be able to do on your own laptop rather than rely on remote connections or lugging around demo kit.

Good news; the RC build of vSphere will boot under the latest VMware Workstation build (6.5.2) without any of the .vmx hackery you had to do in previous versions and it seems quite fast to boot.

Bad news: the RC build of vSphere needs at least 2GB of RAM to boot, this is a problem for a laptop with 4GB of RAM as it means you can only really run one at a time.

Luckily: Duncan Epping (or VCDX 007; licenced to design :)) has discovered how you can hack the startup script to allow it to run in less than 2GB of RAM – details here, this isn’t officially supported – but it does work.

In the interests of science I did some experimentation with VM’s with various amounts of decreasing RAM to see what the bare minimum RAM you can get away with for a VM’d version of vSphere RC.

The magic number seems to be 768Mb of RAM, if you allocate less than this to the VM then it results in a Purple Screen of Death (PSOD) at boot time.

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Note – this may change for the GA/RTM final version – but these are my findings for RC

The relevant section of my /etc/vmware/init/init.d/00.vmnix file looks like the following (note it won’t actually boot with 512mb assigned to the VM)

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Some screen captures of the vSphere RC boot process below

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And finally the boot screen once it’s finished – it takes 2-3 mins with 768Mb of RAM on my laptop to get to this boot screen.

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I am doing this on a Dell D620 with 4Gb RAM and Intel VT enabled in the BIOS, running Vista x86 and VMware Workstation v6.5.2 build 156735

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I haven’t tried, but I assume I can’t power on VM’s under this instance of vSphere but I can connect them to a vCenter 4 machine and practice with all the management and configuration tools.

Happy tweaking…

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Can you run ESX as a VM under ESX?

 

Crazy, yeah – but hey you’ve got to try it, prompted by a question from Prasad – can you run ESX in a VM under ESX?

In the interest of science I just tried this, I used VM Convertor to convert my working ESX under workstation image as-is to my ESX box (hoping it would keep the custom settings intact, and saving me from having to rebuild it)

good news, the VM converter did it’s thing and it does start up on the ESX box.

..bad news, it doesn’t get past  this screen as far as I can tell…it’s sat there for a good 20mins so I don’t think its going to get much further.

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Also tried to import my ESX 3i image to see if that would work, but VM Convertor wouldn’t import it for some reason, so will have to try a clean install on that.

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Looks like some kind of error when it’s trying to determine what version it is..

[2008-06-13 00:23:29.164 ‘P2V’ 5748 error] [task,295] Task failed: P2VError UNKNOWN_METHOD_FAULT(sysimage.fault.OsVersionNotFound)
[2008-06-13 00:23:29.164 ‘P2V’ 5748 verbose] [task,339] Transition from InProgress to Failure requested
[2008-06-13 00:23:29.164 ‘P2V’ 5748 verbose] [task,388] Transition succeeded

Ah well, anyone know how to get this going/if it’s possible?

Running ESX 3.5 and 3i Under VMWare Workstation 6.5 Beta Build 91182

 

Following on from my earlier post I upgraded my installation to the new build of 6.5. it un-installed the old build and re-installed the latest without a problem, took about 30mins and required a reboot of the host OS.

All my previously suspended XP/2003 VM’s resumed ok without a restart but needed an upgrade to the VMTools which did require a restart of the guest OS – all completed with no problems.

Now, onto installing ESX….

I used the settings from Eric’s post here to edit my .vmx file

ethernet0.virtualDev = “e1000”

monitor.virtual_exec = “hardware”
monitor_control.restrict_backdoor = “true”

Note – you need to select an x64 Linux version from the VM type drop down, if you have to go back and change it via the GUI after you’ve edited the .vmx file it overwrites the Ethernet card “e1000” setting to “vlance” so you need to edit again otherwise the ESX installer won’t find a compatible NIC and won’t install.

it was initially very slow to boot; 5mins on my dual core laptop with only one error – which was expected..

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To improve the performance I changed my installation to run the non-debug version of the Workstation binaries (rename the vmware-vmx.exe to vmware-vmx-debug.exe)

note: this isn’t recommended unless you know what you are doing, VMWare will rely on the output from the debug version of the code if you need to report any issues)

It also seems to work for the installable version of ESX 3i… (although I’ve not quite figured out the point of that version yet :)).

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Install prompt

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it did fail with an error the 1st time round..

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this was because I had specified an IDE disk as per the ESX instructions, I changed it to a SCSI one and it worked ok.

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Finished..

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The ESX 3i install has a footprint of about 200Mb on disk, and ESX 3.5 uses 1.5Gb.

I’m going to keep the 3.5 install on my laptop and will try to use linked clones to maintain a couple of different versions/configs to save disk space.. I’m sure I could knock up a quick script to change the hostname/IP of each clone – if I do I’ll post it here.

Why would you want to do this? well because you can, of course 🙂 and its handy for testing patch updates and scripts for ESX management etc.

I will  also try to get a ESX DRS cluster running under workstation with a couple of ESX hosts and shared storage over iSCSI using something like OpenFiler as shown here. won’t exactly be production performance, but useful for testing and demo’ing.