Riceman85
Contributor
Contributor

ESXi 5 on a Mac Mini 2011

Hi all, since version 5 of ESXi has been released, I've been searching around whether it will install on a Mac Mini Server (2011 model).

I know the defunct Xserve is the only Apple hardware officially supported, but the Mac Mini would be gold for a Dev environment at home.

ESXi 4.1 I know definitely had issues with the Mac Mini, and have only found posts elsewhere mentioning "mixed reports" of getting ESXi 5 running.

Has anybody here tried this? I'd buy one today if i knew it would work.

Cheers

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24 Replies
colinkng
Contributor
Contributor

Unfortunately ESXi 5.0 does not work on a Mac mini (2011 server i7 quad-core). The ethernet does not work.

Purchased a Macmini5,3 yesterday and tried to install ESXi 5.0 on it. My friend who builds/administers ESXi boxes (as runs it on plenty of unsupported configurations) and I were able to boot ESXi via a USB flash drive, but could not get TCP/IP working over the ethernet.

It fully booted as per (http://gregcarriger.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/turn-your-laptop-into-an-esxi-5-0-host/). Things looked promising - keyboard was working, and we could see the hard drives in the logs, but we ultimately could not ping the box, and obviously couldn't connect to it using ESXi client.

TCP/IP would not run on it - it did not pick up an IP address even though a DHCP server was running on our network. Manually setting the IP address did not work either. We even set up an ARP route to try to get any packets to the box. All without luck.

We dug around to find info on the Broadcom 57765 ethernet (also in Macmini5,1, and I think the 2010 Mac mini), and confirmed it was recognized by the tg3 driver. Aside from seeing its MAC address (and confirming it was up by checking into the stats on the managed switch). We were even able to force speed/duplex settings (i.e. 10 half duplex) and saw it reflected on the managed switch. But at no point could we get packets on/off the interface.

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myatix
Contributor
Contributor

Have you tried doing this to get round the NIC driver issue?

http://www.vm-help.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1540&hilit=mac

Good luck let us know if you have any progress...

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dhealys
Contributor
Contributor

I have managed to successfully install esxi 5 on tte new mac mini server 2011.  i installed refit on the mac mini. i have the primary drive booting too mac os server where refit is installed. i then installed a brand new 1 tb above the 500gb mac mini  server.  i used a program called esxi customiser

http://v-front.blogspot.com/p/esxi-customizer.html#download. i then went onto this website ( http://vm-help.com/esx40i/customize_oem_tgz.php)  and downloaded the customised oem.tgz called " Adds Broadcom 5761 support (14e4:1681)" the rest is self explanatory once you download program. One slight problem when i successfully installed esxi5 Refit will not allow it to boot, asking for a boot disk. but if i disconnect the connector from the first hard drive on the mac mini, esxi will boot. currently looking for a better boot manager program, so i dont have to keep disconnecting first drive. really pleased with my work and i think i might be the first person too have done this, as cannott find anybody else who on google who has succesfully done this.

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allb18c
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Congrats! This is awesome.  I think you are the only person who reported a fully working ESXi on Mac Mini.  I have a few questions for you.

Did you have a problem with getting the keyboard to work?  There are reports stating that the keyboard driver is also an issue.

Secondly, did you try and install ESXi natively without dual boot/refit to see if you could get over the boot issue?  Possibly USB install?

I need to get this going also and any further insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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eableson
Contributor
Contributor

Hi there,

Wondering if you can shed a little more detail on the process you used for the installation. I generally use the following procedure for creating my ESXi installs on USB keys with regular servers: http://blog.scottlowe.org/2009/01/08/creating-a-bootable-esxi-usb-stick-on-mac-os-x/. This process eliminates the installation phase and results in a bootable ESXi volume that you just need to configure IP and networking.

I was also wondering if you were booting the Mac Mini off of an external USB key or whether you did a full install on one of the internal drives?

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paraguininc
Contributor
Contributor

After reading this and other feedback, we were able to get the Mac Mini 2011 (5,3) working with VMware ESXi 5.  The one thing that was key was the Broadcom NIC driver needed to be updated and its not included on the VMware ISO, but it's available.  You can read the step by step instructions on our website:

http://paraguin.com/2012/01/10/the-mac-mini-vmware-esxi-5-server-part-2-installation/

Let us know your feedback if this helps you as we were able to do it to two of the Mac Mini 2011 Quad Core i7 with 2 hard drives.  A couple items to note is that we used a super drive since it didn't require any modifications to the VMware ISO file.  Then the second item is that the Mac Mini servers are software raid so you will end up with two hard drives and should have a good backup strategy for your VMs.

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allb18c
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I attempted your method using on a Mac Mini 2010 with success also.  I had to install ESXi on a USB stick in order to get it to work because the USB hub driver does not work.  It looks like Apple is using a different hardware type for their USB hub on the newer models?

Thanks for finding the magic NIC driver.

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dhealys
Contributor
Contributor

With Regards the  installation of esxi 5 on mac mini,  ive outline the steps below, there were initial problem with getting ethernet working, i have now fixed this. here is an outline of steps so nothing is missed.

Step 1: My Mac Mini Server 2011 came with two 500gb hard drives. i Replaced one hard drive with a 1tb drive and left one 500gb in the bottom half of the mac mini, as i did not want to tear apart mac mini. the 1 tb hard will be were esxi 5 will be installed and mac server hard drive will remain as the primary drive.

Step 2; Installed Refit on 500gb mac Server hard drive.  to allow easy booting off usb and allow esxi 5 to be booted from internal hard drive

Step 3: I downloaded the esxi iso image and the broadcom driver which was hard to find. the broadcom driver can be found at the following.

http://downloads.vmware.com/d/details/dt_esxi50_broadcom_tg3_3_120h_v50_2/dHRAYnRAd2piZHAlZA==

unzip the file and place the bundle on your hard drive.

Step 4

i download  a program called esxi customiser, to customise installation.
http://v-front.blogspot.com/p/esxi-customizer.html#download.

Step 5

Run esxi customiser, and browse to esxi5 iso and the broadcom bundle driver.

Step 6

Download Unibooting and browse to new customised image and load onto usb stick

thats it, quickest and  most simplest way to do this, and now you have coolest esx box in world, all done in less than 5 minutes.

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Gabriele01
Contributor
Contributor

Hi dhealys,

I plan to install ESXi 5 on MAC mini too. The configuration is  RAM 8 GB, 2 discs (256 GB Solid State, 750 GB SATA).
I want to use it for max. 3 VM's - one of them  - the biggest one: WIN SBS 2011 as
Exchange-, DNS-, DHCP-Server and Domain Controler for max 5 Clients. The Data will be on a NAS.

The plan was to install ESXi 5 on the solid state disk and the VM's on the second SATA disc.

Did you make experience with your ESXi 5 installation up to know? What about the performance?

It would be nice, if I could participate in your know how. Thanks a lot!

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Riceman85
Contributor
Contributor

Quite alot of progress since I first posted this.

One question though, if you goto https://[esxi5-hostname]/mob/?moid=ha-host&doPath=hardware is the smcPresent value equal to true?

If so, think I'll be buying one tomorrow.

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paraguininc
Contributor
Contributor

It does show up as true.  I also had a VMware rep inform me that 10.7.2 will be supported in ESXi 5 Update 1 since our testing showed that 10.7.0 and 10.7.1 works and an iPhone can be synced to iTunes through the vSphere client as long as you upgrade iTunes and not the rest of OS X.  You can see from the blog that many people have reported success with the information shared among all those part of the community.

http://paraguin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/smcPresent.gif

http://paraguin.com/2012/01/17/os-x-on-a-mac-mini-with-vmware-esxi-5/

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pcorrea117
Contributor
Contributor

I noticed that ESXi 5 seems to definitely be possible on Mac Mini 2010 and 2011 models.  Does anyone have any indication of whether it will work on a Mac Mini early/late 2009 model?  Not sure how different the innards are, but if it will work, I will definitely be scouring for 2009 or newer used/refurb Mac Minis to put together a cluster.

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ssnowden40336
Contributor
Contributor

I have it installed and working well for about a month, but now it's going offline. Read the entire post here: http://virtualizationinformation.com/?p=1423

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lamw
Community Manager
Community Manager

ESXi 5.0 Update 1 w/broadcom driver patch works fine on Mac Mini Server 2011 5,3 (A1347) - http://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/05/thats-so-cool-running-esxi-5-on-apple.html

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ssnowden40336
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks. I'm going to check my configuration and make sure it matches. I'll post the results if its different.

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admin
Immortal
Immortal

Shannon,

One of my Mac Mini's has gone offline twice since I set it up last month.  Usually, I can just unplug/plug the NIC cable and it's good to go again.  I might try your fix of changing from auto negotiate to full/1000.

BTW, I swapped out the 2 500GB drives for 120GB OCZ Agility 3's...and the box runs much cooler...not to mention the drives are faster.  I'll eventually move all of my VMs over to a QNAP SAN/NAS when it comes in from Newegg this Wednesday.

Chris

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ssnowden40336
Contributor
Contributor

I like the QNAP SAN/NAS. That setup should keep the MM much cooler as you say.

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admin
Immortal
Immortal

Well, the QNAP doesn't come with drives...but I'll be taking the 4x 500GB drives out of the 2 Mac Mini's...and using them in the QNAP.  ESXi5 recognized the OCZ SSD drives...and I could use some of their space for Host cache...if I really started pushing/exceeding the 16BG of RAM in them.

What a great setup!  I read that the vSamurai was trying to get this setup as a presentation at VMworld.  I hope he gets approved.  I'll be there again this year.  Hope to see you if you can make it.

Chris

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