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Convert home-built server to ESXi

  • 1.  Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 08, 2011 10:07 PM

    I have been running Windows Home Server on a computer which I made out of spare components for some years ago. But I am tired of that OS now, I want to run a linux dist + Windows Server 2008.

    So I looked into virtualisation and found ESXi and vSphere Hypervisor (free yay :smileysilly:).

    First here are the spec of the computer:

    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300

    4GB Ram

    ~5TB storage divided on 4 disks that are different sizes

    MSI G31TM-P35 Motherboard (Intel ICH7)

    What I have read, I need to buy another network card (that is fine by mine). But other than that, what are the possibilities of this computer running ESXi?

    As I said, it will mainly run 2 VMs, Windows Server 2008 and maybe Ubuntu Server. In the future I'll maybe run a third VM.

    I would like to know the performance efficiency of running ESXi vs Normal windows for example. Sometimes there will be heavy load on the Windows VM (when converting movies etc.), then I want that VM to run with like full power. Sometimes there will maybe be some heavy process running on the ubuntu vm. But there won't be a continious heavy load on the VMs.

    So yeah, am I really off now? :smileysilly:

    I have tried running Workstation, but I don't feel I am getting the power I want. Also, vSphere and ESXi seems way cooler :smileywink:

  • 2.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 10, 2011 02:16 PM


  • 3.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 11, 2011 06:19 AM

    You need to look at your RAM alos.. as you got only 4GB RAM and what is the configuration of RAM you have planned to use on the VMs.

    Processor is OK.

    Is that the Hardware is compatabile to install VMware esxi. check in the compatabile matrix link below.


    Network adapter it depends if you have 1 NIC also its more than enough for home server.. as you can use that for both management Port and VM port..

    these are the things i would take a look at..

    Award points for the helpful and correct answer by clicking the below tab :smileyhappy:

  • 4.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 11, 2011 12:41 PM

    Yeah I am aware of the RAM too, I am planning on having at least 6GB RAM, probably 8GB.

    I don't know what you meant with that link though.

    Well the reason to why I need to buy a NIC is because I can't use the inbuilt realtek one, I need an Intel NIC :smileyhappy:

    EDIT: Also, how does it work with the HDDs? I suppose I can connect them directly to VMs, instead of needing to create a huge virtual disk file?

  • 5.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 11, 2011 12:51 PM

    Ok then fine about the NIC.

    Link is to check if your hardware is compatable or not.

    Well about the link, for example what is your raid controller . just put that there and see if that is compatable for esxi5 installation or not.

    You mentioned home server what is the make and model or its a assembled one.

  • 6.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 11, 2011 02:14 PM

    well I don't use RAID.

    The home server, is my server which has the specs. listed at the top.

  • 7.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 13, 2011 06:01 AM

    It could work.

    However if the hardware is not on the compatability list, and it does not work:smileysad:

    Then getting help will be almost impossible.

    Then again I installed ESXI 4.1 on an acer extensa 5620 laptop and got lucky (it works)

    I strongly recommend that you do not try that kind of stunt however as it was an pain to get working.



  • 8.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 13, 2011 12:11 PM

    I can't find the motherboard on any list, though I have found other MBs with similar chipsets (ICH7) that works.

    I also found this thread:


    Which confirms that the Realtek RTL8111 works out of the box with ESXi 5. Therefore I don't have to buy a new card.

    Can I install ESXi on a USB stick and then boot from it on the server and see if everything works? Do I have to do the installation on the server?

  • 9.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 13, 2011 10:31 PM

    If you plug the USB stick into the MB and then do the install to the USB stick, it may work.

    I strongly suggest that you disconnect your hard drives if you do not want them overwritten.

    Since I have made that error before and picked the wrong drive for installation (but that is another story:smileysad:)

    If the NIC is supported, in my experience most of the other components will work as well. Although I have not tried this MB type before.

    Just make sure that you backup what ever is on your server that is of value before you do this.

    Since loosing stuff due to a botched install is never fun.

    So to recap, try connecting the USB stick to the server, disconnect your hard drives (less you make the error I did) and attempt to install it.

    If this works then there is no need to go further.

    If it does not, connect the HDD that you want to install to, reboot the server and try again.



  • 10.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 14, 2011 05:25 PM

    Then there is only one thing left, the hard drives.

    I see no reason to create huge virtual disks and have all my files there. It will just make things harder I think. Like moving disks, corruption and such.

    So I looked into RDM. Since this is my homebrew server, I use SATA disks. There is no official support for SATA in RDM (sadface) though there is luckily a solution to that:


    So I can access the disks directly in the VMs. I just hope that it works.

    Does RDM decrease the performance of the disks? If you use the -z switch so it bypasses the vmkernel, it should not, right?

  • 11.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi
    Best Answer

    Posted Dec 14, 2011 09:59 PM

    I know SATA disks are not officilally supported.

    However in my experience they tend to work more often then not.

    I have used SATA drives in 6 or 7 servers, all of them using the MB controlers.

    and I have never had any problems with them:smileyhappy:

    (this is what our DEV enviroment at work is built on)

    RDM should not decrease preformance.

    In fact I would expect it to increase preformance, due to less load on the VMkernal.

    If any one has done any bench marks I would be very interested.



  • 12.  RE: Convert home-built server to ESXi

    Posted Dec 15, 2011 03:16 PM

    Sweet. Will try to install ESXi to a USB stick this weekend and try some things. If it works good, I'll keep it :>