ramasan
Contributor
Contributor

Building a test server / white box - post your builds here

Have you built a cheap white box with all hardware supported by ESX 3.5? Please post here!

I have to implement and support a single ESX server for 3 or 4 MS virtual machines - so I need to build a test machine at home.

My immediate concern is getting a low-cost controller that I can plug into my Intel DP35DP motherboard with a SATA drive.

Please post your readily available and cheap hardware. Thanks in advance!

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11 Replies
Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

I've tested the DP35DP with 3i booting off a USB flash drive and it works fine. I'm hoping to try it with local SATA drives this weekened. Have you tried the DP35DP yet with a SATA drive using the built-in controller?

http://www.vm-help.com/esx/esx3.5/Whiteboxes_SATA_Controllers_for_ESX_3.5_3i.htm

ramasan
Contributor
Contributor

i tried to install ESX 3.5 on my DP35DP using the built in controller but failed. i set my bios controller card to "IDE" mode (vs ahci or raid) and it still choked finding storage. and that was with either an ide drive or sata drive. so i dont think ESX 3.5 supports the ICH8 or ICH9 controller out of the box (which ever one it is). hence my desire to find a low cost controller card i can plug in.

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

I'm just working on the install now and I got the not able to find storage error, but this is actually related to the CD-Rom drivers. I clicked on back, switched to an HTTP install and it is progressing along. I'm still expecting a 'can't mount root " error after the install as I don't expect the specific ICH9 controller to be recognized by the vmkernel. But there is a work around for that that should do the job. The default PCI id files that ESX installs do recognize 4 models of ICH8 and ICH9 controllers. So if the DP35DP doesn't have one of those models, then i'll update the specific XML file and see if that works.

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Chris_S_UK
Expert
Expert

Following advice on this forum, I purchased one of these off Ebay and it works fine:

http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/11632_ca/11632_ca.HTML

You should be able to get one of these with 2gb RAM, a reasonable SATA disk and a couple of extra NICs for under £200.

Rgds

Chris

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

I was able to get 3.5 to install and run OK once I used the HTTP install. I was using a single SATA drive and it was recognized without any issues and the VMFS partition created during the install is working fine. In the BIOS I set the drive confige to IDE / Natvie. Just testing a 64 bit VM now and so far things are fine. I did add an Intel NIC as the onboard isn't recognized.

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ramasan
Contributor
Contributor

which intel nic? ready to jump in the car and head down to best buy to pick one up (no frys or central computers in my neck of the woods).

i would assume that whichever the current chipset is for the entry level intel nic? heck i might as well head down - good enough excuse to make the trip Smiley Happy

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

In this case it was the model 82572EI that I had around. I have

purchased some low end PRO /1000 to try

(http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=111105448&vpn=PWLA8391GTBLK&

manufacture=Intel). I haven't verified that they work, but they are

listed in the PCI ID xml file for Intel cards.

</device

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neil_murphy
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Try building it as a VM in VMware Workstation 6. Have a look at .

You'll need at least 2GB of RAM and I can't vouch for any guests you might want to deploy (virtualistaion within virtualisation) but it's a good way to get used to how to build out systems. If you need shared storage you can deploy OpenFiler 2.2 as a VM also.

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ramasan
Contributor
Contributor

i pulled an ancient pro/100s intel nic out of another desktop. plugged it in, and everything works fine.

so to summarize:

  • MB Intel DP35DP (onboard nic not recognized (at least out of the box))

  • XFX / Nvidia 8600GT 256MB video card

  • Old Intel Pro100s NIC

  • 4G RAM Corsair RAM

ESX 3.5 loaded right up, tested the BrowserAppliance - everything works great. very cool.

next up - poor mans SAN. i would love to see vmotion in motion Smiley Happy

anyone have suggestions for fibre channel on the CHEAP ?

since i have smart eyeballs reading again - anyone have a good experience with one of the local VM user groups? i threw my name into the hat for the raleigh nc group.

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Dave_Mishchenko
Immortal
Immortal

You can do this with NFS or iSCSI. Lots of options depending on what you prefer to run (i.e. it can be on Windows / Linux). Or you can download appliances like this - http://www.lefthandnetworks.com/products/virtual_storage.php

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bards1888
Contributor
Contributor

openfiler or freenas both do iSCSI and NFS