1 2 3 Previous Next 33 Replies Latest reply on Jul 10, 2008 7:58 AM by rpartmann

    Cheap ESX solution (Tests)

    TheDonMiguel Novice


      Hello community


      I'm looking for a cheap hardware solution to play with VMware ESX 3.5, or 3i. Since the new version doesn't work in the Workstation Version it's important to have an alternative What do I have to consider? What kind of CPU, NIC and Controller are suggested? I would like to use local SATA storage...



      Thanks in advanced for the feedback!




        • 1. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
          Dave.Mishchenko Guru
          User Moderators


          Here's a list I'm working on.  If you're looking at a whitebox then ideally something with a broadcom / intel Pro /1000 NIC.  For a SATA controller the list here should still be fine - http://www.vmprofessional.com/index.php?content=sata_faq, but ESX has a greater number of drivers on the install CD.  If you open the CD, go to /vmware/RPMS/ and look for the VMware-esx-drivers-* rpms.  If for example,  you have a Promise controller open vmware-esx-dirvers-scsi-sata-promise-1.03-64607.i386.rpm.  Drill down into the rpm until you find this file - VMware\RPMS\VMware-esx-drivers-scsi-sata_promise-1.03-64607.i386.rpm\VMware-esx-drivers-scsi-sata_promise-1.03-64607.i386.cpio.gz\VMware-esx-drivers-scsi-sata_promise-1.03-64607.i386.cpio\etc\vmware\pciid\sata_promise.xml.  You can open it and then you'll see a list of SATA controllers that ESX will recognize.  These aren't supported, but they will likely work. 



          With some SATA controllers (see the source link for the HP ML115 below, you have to make some changes after the install of ESX as the controller is not listed in the XML file, but you can edit it to add support for the card.  That assumes that the driver will work with the SATA controller.



          Processor wise if you're going with Intel make sure the processor supports Intel VT.  Some of the older and lowest priced dual-core CPUs don't.  If you're going with a good dual / quad core CPU then a single processor motherboard will be sufficient.  You can also look for older servers that were supported with ESX 3.0.x on eBay.  I have an older IBM x335/336 that work fine with 3.0.2 - just haven't tested them with 3.5 yet.  Downside with them is that they don't have Intel VT so I'm limited to 32 bit VMs on them.



          Motherboards and unsupported servers that work with ESX 3.5 / 3i Installable

          Last updated - 2008.01.13


          SATA Controller

          ESX 3.5 b64607

          ESX 3i Installable 3.5 b67921

          Source / Notes

          Servers and PCs

          Dell Dimension E521



          Dell PowerEdge SC1430



          HP ML115

          MCP55 SATA Controller


          Need to update sata_nv.xml - http://communities.vmware.com/thread/116768?tstart=0

          Dell XPS - M1710

          Intel 82801/GHM (ICH7-M Family)


          Tested by vm-help.com

          HP Compaq d530 - Small form factor (SFF) DG755A

          SATA 82801EB (ICH5)



          HP DC 7100 / 7600 / 7700



          Sun x2200




          ASUS P5M2/SAS

          LSI Logic LSI1068 / 82801GB/GR/GH (ICH7 Family)


          Tested by vm-help.com.  Both the LSI1068 and ICH7 controllers work fine.

          Intel S5000PSLROMB




          NVIDIA GeForce 6100S (MCP61)


          Tested by vm-help.com - after install boot into Service Console Mode.  Then edit sata_nv.xml to add an entry for the device 03f6.  Then run esxcfg-pciid and reboot the server.

          Gigabyte GA-K8N51GMF-9

          NVIDIA GeForce 6100



          MSI 915P/G Neo2

          Intel ICH6R



          Supermicro P8SCi

          Intel ICH6R



          SuperMicro X7DBE

          Intel Corporation 631xESB/632xESB


          HostRAID does not work - http://communities.vmware.com/thread/116768?tstart=0


          Intel 6300ESB Sata Controller


          Set controller to SATA only (not IDE-SATA) - http://communities.vmware.com/message/835422

          SATA Controllers

          Adaptec 2610SA

          Untested - should work

          Untested - should work




          • 2. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
            rpartmann Expert



            best is to use any newer dual/quad core cpu (amd ot intel) and memory.


            Be careful which SATA controllers are on the mainboards. (as Dave.Mishchenko already posted)


            I bought additional

            PCIe  (http://www.intel.com/network/connectivity/products/pro1000pt_desktop_adapter.htm)


            PCI (http://www.intel.com/network/connectivity/products/pro1000gt_desktop_adapter.htm

            gigabit nics.



            ps: Award points if you find answers helpful. Thanks.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
              xAyiDe Hot Shot

              I would like to add the following parts to workinglist, as it runs very fast to:


              Gigabyte GA-G33-DS3R (cheap motherboard with build in graphics so ni need for any extra card)

              Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (run at 1.01 Volt but with full speed)

              8 Gbyte of Kingston 4x2 GB modules DDR667

              LSI logic 8344ELP (8 port SAS)

              1 x 150 GB (10k raptor)

              2 x 750 Gbyte (7k wd)

              1 x Intel Dual Pro 1000MT Server


              The above runs very cool and is fast enough for 12-15 servers. power consumption is around 95 watts with CPU loaded.

              The onboard Realtek does not work with ESX but I build this for use with VMware Server. Now when ESX 3i is so cheap I will buy that one and run. I have it running on it now and its absolutely stable and runs with good speed. I know I could buy a sevrer for the price of the above stuff, but a sevrer would cost me more electricity, run hotter and make alot more noise without beeing so much faster.

              • 4. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                jonasb Novice


                I don't really want to start building my own computer, but what about the HP Quad-core Workstation xw4600  or xw6600?



                Will they work out of the box with 3.5?









                • 6. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                  bertdb Master


                  This is what I bought a couple of weeks ago:



                  MSI P35 Platinum motherboard



                  Intel Core2Quad 2.4 GHz



                  2x 2GB ram



                  Promise Sata300 TX2 Plus SATA controller (I bought a card referenced in cat /etc/vmware/pciid/*xml | grep name )



                  Intel pro/1000 PT Dual port PCI express network card (same, although this one is really on the HCL)



                  80 GB Sata HD (smallest I could find)






                  Installed ESX 3.5 over HTTP (CD install booted, but then couldn't find the CD to read the packages from it). Works great.



                  • 7. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                    MartynT Novice


                    Would you mind adding the Dell Precision 670 workstation to the list?



                    Over the weekend I managed to install and run ESX 3.5 with only a minor config change, the change is simple and just requires the CPUID check to be disabled to stop the '0xbad001e' (Unsupported CPU) error on boot. To do this, simply boot into the recovery console, edit the /etc/vmware/esx.conf file and add /vmkernel/checkCPUIDLimit = "FALSE". Reboot, and ESX will boot and function fine. My setup is utilising the 670s onboard (ICH5) SATA controller. The Intel 10/100/1000 onboard network adaptor work fine.



                    The box spec is as follows:



                    Precision 670

                    Dual 3GHz Xeon Processors

                    8Gb ECC DDR2 400MHz

                    Intel Pro 100/1000 On board Network Adaptor

                    1x 40Gb SATA2 HD

                    1x 500Gb SATA2 HD


                    I hope this helps,









                    • 8. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                      rbrambley Lurker

                      go to http://vmetc.com/2008/03/14/esx-home-lab-hardware-shopping-list/ for the parts to build a dual core AMD host for $337or a quad core Intel host for $695.

                      • 9. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                        vmmeup Expert


                        I recently built out a 4 host test environment using:



                        Acer Aspire MT500A Desktop which I picked up for $400.00 on clearance at best buy.  The onboard SATA and NIC's didn't work so I order 2 Intel Pro/1000 GT Nics for each host for $29.99 per nic and used a IDE Drive as my boot drive.  I have exernal NFS and iSCSI setup for vmfs/vmdk storage.  The machines came with 2GB RAM but support up to 8GB so I orderd 4 2GB Sticks per server to mac them out at a price of around $150.00 per server;.  So all in all each host ended up costing $580.00.



                        I have a server that is setup running Centos w/ virtual server that I am using for a storage server.  On it I am running multiple storage solutions as vm's.  So I was able to remove the 500GB SATA drives that came in the Acer machines and put them into my virtual server machine and was able to gain 2TB of storage in the process.  Also reused the 1GB RAM sticks in my storage box, well not all but half of them.  End result for just over 2K I have



                        4 Hosts ESX 3.5 Environent utilizing NFS & iSCSI for storage with over 2TB of storage and multiple storage servers allowing me to test different solutions. 



                        17Ghz Processing Power with 8 Cores



                        32Gb Ram 



                        Not a bad test environment.......



                        • 10. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                          azn2kew Champion

                          Unfortunately, my ESX is not cheap because I need more power than functional.  This box is a beast can run pretty much a lot of servers for testing. 



                          Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz

                          ASUS P5M2/SAS LGA 775 Intel 3000 ATX

                          G.SKILL 8GB(4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Quad Channel

                          WD5000AAJS 500GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s (5 drives)

                          ASUS Black 20X DVDR 8X DVDRW 8X DVD+R DL SATA

                          Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000BWA Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower

                          Thermaltake W0093RU ATX 12V 2.0 Version 500W Power Supply 115/230

                          Hanns·G HW-191DPB Black 19" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 700:1 Built in Speakers

                          PNY 256MB Video Card DVI


                          If you found this information useful, please consider awarding points for "Correct" or "Helpful". Thanks!!!




                          Stefan Nguyen

                          iGeek Systems LLC.

                          VMware, Citrix, Microsoft Consultant

                          • 11. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                            techstyled Novice


                            We will be starting our first rollout of VMWare in a week or two. We're using 4 top-end DELL 2950's for the physical hosts and an EMC NS20 for the storage.



                            I would LOVE to start building a TEST environment right now and I have 3 systems exactly like the cheap AMD system posted earlier as well as plenty of storage options.



                            However, what I DON'T have are test versions of ESX. How are y'all doing this? Are you just using your production license on test systems?



                            • 12. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                              Dave.Mishchenko Guru
                              User Moderators

                              When you install ESX by default you get a 60 day evalulation period.

                              • 13. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                                techstyled Novice


                                My network admin told me that you could only use one "evaluation ESX" evaluation and there's not such for VC.



                                Is he just misinformed and the "evaluation period" is like with Windows products (i.e. install it to test and just wipe it when done, no activation necessary).



                                If that's so, I guess you have to have the "real" product first because you don't seem to be able to get more than one trial license via the website.



                                Not being dense on purpose, just not getting how you can test the whole enchilada.



                                • 14. Re: Cheap ESX solution (Tests)
                                  Dave.Mishchenko Guru
                                  User Moderators

                                  The evaluation process has changed recently.  It used to be that you would get a 30 day eval license for VirtualCenter 2.0x / ESX 3.0.x and the license files would expire and be unusable after that period.  Now with VC 2.5 / ESX 3.5 each product will start with a 60 day eval so in theory you could just reinstall on your test systems every 60 days.  Not sure what the evaluation license agreement says about that though.  When you install and leave it in eval mode you don't have to worry about adding a license file as you would have with VC 2.0.x / ESX 3.0.x.

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