Just wanted to share my experiences getting the following to work:
Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-KNS Pro
NICs: 2 x Intel Pro/1000 GT Desktop adapter
Esxi Installation: CF card attached to IDE controller
I'm happy to say that it's working now, however I did experience the following problems..
1. Unable to boot into ESXi after writing the DD image to a compact flash card. Didn't even get bootloader
Ok, this one was easy. Don't use a 512MB card to write a 1GB image
2. When booting ESXi there the following error is displayed "Failed to load lvmdriver"
The onboard NIC on the Gigabyte mainboard is not supported. The solution is to use a NIC that is supported - I chose the Intel Pro/1000 GT Desktop Adapter
3. When booting into ESXi from a CF card the following error is displayed: "PANIC: Failed to find USB boot partition"
There is a kernel parameter set when you do a 'real' install (as opposed to transferring the dd image to a device) which tells esxi it's not running from a usb device. You can set this option at boot time by pressing Shift and O (the letter o) at the screen which shows the gray bar loading the vmware kernel. Pressing shift-o will interupt the boot process and you type the following:
The hit enter to kick off the load again. That should load it up.
When you get it loaded you can jump into the vSphere client and hunt around to set the kernel parameter that disabled usb boot. This would just set adjust a config file on one of the hypervisor partitions, but I'm not sure which one as I didn't need to do this (see below for why)
4. No network connectivity with Intel Pro/1000 GT Desktop Gigabit adapter once esxi was up and running
The symptoms were quite simple. The driver (e1000) loaded successfully, I had a link light, but couldn't get an IP from DHCP, not could I ping anything from the esxi host with static IP configuration. A protocol analyser (wireshark) confirmed that there were no arp packets coming out of the NIC. Checking 'esxcfg-nics -l' via the command line showed that the vmnic was there, the driver was there, however link was "Down" and speed said "0mbs". Tried forcing speed and duplex with no luck.
Checked the forums and found a post where someone suggested loading the Intel driver for the Intel 82575 and 82576 chips, however the Pro 1000 GT uses a 82541 (double checked physically on the card). The original poster said that fixed his problem so I thought I'd give that a shot. It's actually quite tricky to get a driver pack onto an esxi system that has no floppy, cdrom or working network. You can't mount a USB device either. Took me awhile to figure this out, but eventually got it to install the driver by mounting the CF card on an OS X system, creating a bogus oem.tgz file containing the Intel driver pack, copying it to the Hypervisor1 booting up into the system and from the unsupported shell entering maintenance mode via the command line then installing the driver pack using the esxupdate command (esxupdate --bundle=INT-intel-lad-ddk-igb-220.127.116.11-offline_bundle-166506.zip update)
Rebooted and it still didn't work.
Thought it might be some bizarre problem due to having dumped the dd image onto CF, rather than installing it.. so I thought I'd do a real install from installation media. I only had USB available so I did the following:
- format with fat32
- extract the iso to the drive
- syslinux the drive using the following switches -s -f -m -a
- rename the configuration file from isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg
- boot from usb, with the following error: "could not find kernel image: linux"
Double checked and i'd definitely renamed isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg.. everything looked ok with the correct bootloader set as menu.c32 in the file.
Beer + Halo3 team slayer break. BR FTW.
Tried again and did the following
- format as fat (not fat32)
- extract the iso to the drive
- syslinux the drive using the following switches -f -m -a (note: no -s)
- rename the configuration file again
- boot and it worked
Not sure if it was the fat FS or the lack of -s.
Anycase, I did a 'real' install to the CF card and it booted up without needing the usbboot=false kernel parameter to be manually keyed in. Still no go with the network card.. same problem. Note that I'd tried multiple cables, a second identical nic, etc.
Next step was to flash the BIOS on the mainboard. It was running F9 and F14C was available. Again with no floppy or cd bios loading is interesting. Luckily good old USB came through again. This site had great instructions and the necessary files to easily create a bootable dos usb boot disk for bios flashing. Flashed to F14C and booted back into esx. Success!!! The network card(s) worked as expected.
I realise I could have condensed this, but I'm hoping that by detailing my specific steps it will help others that experience similar problems to quickly determine what effects the various tests I performed had without necessarily having to do it all themselves.