mike_hetmanczuk
Contributor
Contributor

looking for recommended hardware for white box

looking to build a very inexpensive whitebox for esx3

suggestions on hardware? i noticed some tyan boards, looking for something cheaper.

amd or intel, prefer amd if it works.

gig or 2 of ram

prefer sata drives (since i have spares)

i want to stick it in a tower case.

any help is greatly appreciated. need specifics on boards, cpus and storage.

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21 Replies
davidbarclay
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Search these forums, there are plenty of threads on it. Also see vmguru.com for articles on how to configure iSCSI and NFS for VMFS storage (can make whitebox deployment easier).

Of course, it's not supported.

Dave

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acr
Champion
Champion

How cheap..?

You could probably get a very cheap System which is on the HCL from Ebay

http://www.vmware.com/support/pubs/vi_pubs.html

Obviously for test and dev it dosnt need to be, but it always helps when trying to solve those really odd issues that crop up from time to time..

Failing that one of my ESX 3 Server cost about $300 from ebay.. A Old Compaq P4 with 2G and Adaptec 2910 SCSI with two 36G H/Ds.. It works...

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davidbarclay
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

Good point acr. Mike, I have seen people spending weeks (months even) making a whitebox solution when they could have spent a few hundred bucks on an old HP or IBM off ebay.

If this is for work test/lab , this is the way to go. For home, noise can be an issue for some.

Dave

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acr
Champion
Champion

And that's a good point, the greef i got with one of my older ESX Servers due to noise...!!

It had to go.. apparently it was either me or the Server... a close call...\!!!

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davidbarclay
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

ahhh, I had the same dilemma a few years back. Mind you I did have a 1.5m rack stacked with old IBM servers Smiley Happy

I got the same ultimatum - so I consolidated to a single powerful workstation and a media centre.

...the good news was, in selling all that equipment I could buy more (less noisy) toys!

Dave

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mike_hetmanczuk
Contributor
Contributor

thanks for all the help guys.

one of the biggest concerns i have is noise. a whitebox will be quieter than a dell server (which at the moment looks most affordable).

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acr
Champion
Champion

Great prices for second user Dells..

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mike_hetmanczuk
Contributor
Contributor

seems to run nice on home pc parts:

AMD 64 3200+ (2 GHz)

2 gigs ram

MSI K8N Neo4-F

Intel Pro 1000 GT

just need to solve the storage problem. currently using nfs from a linux box. ideally sata would be nice.

again, this was just a test run to see how picky esx is with hardware.

the dell 1800 looks tempting at the moment.

thanks again.

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cheeko
Expert
Expert

Hi Mike

In this thread you find some running configs:

http://www.vmware.com/community/message.jspa?messageID=530988

Please post yours as soon as you have your system up and running.

By the way, it mainly depends on the Storage-Controller and NIC.

http://vmprofessional.com/index.php?content=sata_faq

regards,

cheeko

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rock0n
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

My testlab contains three P4 workstations.

ESX 1&2:

P4P800

~3GHz

36GB SCSI HDD

Adaptec 29160

2GB RAM

these are the two ESX configs.

WinXP Host with VMWare workstation:

Host itself used for VI client

VM1: fedora core iSCSI target for 200GB shared storage

VM2: win2003 with dns, dhcp and sql for virtual center DB

VM3: winxp hosts VirtualCenter and license server

very cheap setup, no Server and not very loud.

hope that helps

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moenster
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

I have an Asus A8V MB (it takes ECC in case you have some lying around) with an AMD Athlon 64 3000+ It will take a dual core as well, and up to 4 GB memory.

Controller is an LSI megaraid 150-4 SATA controller and NICs are some old HP 100 mbps dual port NICs.

The e100 drivers are taking quite a while to load, so I will try to change them with som Intel gigabit desktop adapters and see if that changes things.

Besides that I'm quite pleased with it, and its very silent.

In the offie I have a Dell PE 1800, and that is actually quite silent too. I would consider something similar to the PE1800 perhaps with the megaraid sata controller installed, so you can use cheaper SATA-drives..... now that we are all unsupported here ;o).

Regards Henrik

M.v.h. Henrik
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mike_hetmanczuk
Contributor
Contributor

picked up a Adaptec 2610SA 6 port sata card from ebay for $100 US.

not too bad and listed as compatible, time to wait for shipping.

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cheeko
Expert
Expert

my config:

Tyan S2881G2NR Motherboard Thunder K8SR with AMD Opteron 265

ADAPTEC 2610SA 64MB 6port SATA RAID Controller DELL

2 x Samsung HD300LJ, T133, 7200rpm, 8MB, 300GB, SATA-II

The adaptec 2610SA works well - pick one with a battery pack if you have the choice. Gives you better performance.

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Rumple
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

I just put together the following:

Tyan S2882-D

Operton 265

4GB ECC PC-3200

Dell 2610SA SATA - currently 4 240GB Drives - experimenting with RAID 10 and RAID 5 (1MB Stripe size)

Megaraid Elite 1600 - 2 - 146GB SCSI drives RAID1 (64k stripe)

Disk performance wise, I've run the following command

dd if=/dev/zero of=/vmfs/volumes//a.log count=1000000 bs=1024

MegaRAID with Writethrough was about 10 minutes to create the file

MegaRAID with Writeback was 57seconds (have a battery on order as I type this after that performance boost

2610sa with Cache enabled RAID 10 - 3:46sec to write the 1GB file

2610sa with Cache enabled RAID 5 (still rebuilding array) - 11minutes for 512MBytes - obviously terrible performance. Will update post when the rebuild has completed.

Cheeko - I haven't seen any of the Dell's mention a battery, just the onboard memory - got any links to a battery pack?

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Rumple
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

As an update to the above post

Once RAID5 rebuild completed the above file creation completed in 4:27sec

Pretty close to RAID 10 and gives me an extra 250MB. I think I'll stay with that.

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jnelson62
Contributor
Contributor

Henrick - I noticed your running ESX on an ASUS MB. I purchased a ASUS A8V-VM AMD64 VIA K8M890/VT8251 chipset, when attempting to install esx 3.0.1 it panics during the installation boot process. I have tried many BIOS setting but can't get by this, did you have a similar experience, any thoughts. Windows XP and RH4U3 installs just fine

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moenster
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

Hi

What kind of disk controller are you using? You cannot use the onboard SATA.

I will check up on the chipset on my MB during the weekend.

Regards Henrik

M.v.h. Henrik
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moenster
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

By the way, when I removed the old PCI-X HP/Compaq dual port 100 mbps NICs and installed some regular PCI desktop adapters (Intel Pro 1000 GT desktop), the boot sequence really speeded up.

Regards Henrik

M.v.h. Henrik
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jnelson62
Contributor
Contributor

For the time being I'm just using an IDE disk, my experience is that esx will install just fine on an IDE disk, just can't create vmdisks. The SATA controller is disabled. I plan to use a emulex HBA to a small FC array.

I'm thinking the VIA chipsets in the A8V-VM are newer than what you have. What are the chips sets on your motherboard?

When booting the instalation kernel the last message I see on the screen prior to the panic is "PTY: 256 UNIX98 PTYs Configured" Then I see

Oops:0000

CPU: 0

EIP: 0060:\[] Not Taintend

EFLAGS 00010002

..........Aditional register information

In the Bios i have tried disabling many various things such as the floppy, ide disk, comm ports, USB ports, Power features (apic), etc. I always get the same results. There are several advanced setting which I have no idea what they do such as CPU GART, MTRR, and memory Configuration options, I have played with them but get the same results.

Again any advice/suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks,

Joe

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