2009-07-28

Install ESX on your Laptop - I had a Crazy Idea

And so this started today with a Twitter post. If you know it or not I am a big enthusiast of trying to install ESX on all kinds of hardware - especially Whiteboxes that are not on the HCL. I have tested it on a number of HP, Dell and IBM desktops. The great thing about this is - it mostly works, it is completely not supported, but a lot of fun to do. But to lug around with a desktop to present demos, is not always the most convenient thing in the world - to put it mildly.

What-if (or as you would say it in Powershell -whatif) you could create a system, that has a full demonstration environment of multiple VM's - and all of this on your LAPTOP!

So I looked around on the Web and found a few mentions of people who have done this. What kind of problems they ran into and what was possible or not. The consensus is to Install a Base OS, Workstation on top of that, ESX as a VM, and then VM's onto that ESX VM. The consensus about this as well was "IT IS AS SLOW AS A TORTISE!". ESX on bare metal should be much much faster,

So my adventure started with this:

  1. Lenovo T400 Laptop 267812G - Intel Core2 Duo T9400 2.53GHz with 2GB RAM
  2. ESX4i build 171294

The laptop:

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Started out in the BIOS, enabled Intel VT

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SATA was set as AHCI

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And off we go

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Install Screen

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Recognizes the Disk

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And 4 minutes later

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All hardware detected out of the box - Network card included

Next was to connect to the laptop with the VI client.

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2009-07-28_1614_002 2009-07-28_1616 2009-07-28_1614 2009-07-28_1614_001

Now all I have to do is find out why I cannot power on a machine. Every time I started a VM the laptop froze - completely! Hard reboot and the machine came back up OK but the VM was no longer registered.

Have to look into that further

Hope you enjoyed the ride.

17 comments:

Kris Krogstad said...

This is excellent. I am looking to install vSphere 4 on a SFF desktop, without adding any new hardware. Anything out of the box that you can suggest??

Maish said...

I have only tested this on the laptop post in the post. I do know for a fact that it also works on a Lenovo T61 as well. I have not tested it on other hardware besides that

Bink said...

Maish,

Did you ever get this working (no freezing)?

Philipp said...

Hi! And what about accessing ESX by this laptop. I mean that esx has no VI-client. You need another computer|laptop to access your ESX.
What may be the solution of this problem?

Maish said...

The solution would have to be connecting another computer to use the VI client to manage it. Is beats the heck out of having to "shlep" around a desktop with you though

C. Grossmeier said...

You could abstract this one more level and run vSphere in Workstation 7. It is listed as an "Educational" feature set in Workstation 7. Then you could run vCenter in a different VM. Advantage: Power off the lab and still use my laptop for work.

Kiriakos said...

Hp DC 7800 SFF is pure ESXi 4.0 Native Ready!
I order to install Esx 4.0 you need another sata/raid controller than the on board

and of course you need 2GB+ of memory at least

Kiriakos said...

And as for the Laptops.. Dell Lattitude D630 is surely ESXi 3.5 Compatible and i thing also ESXi 4.0

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nutty said...

Thank you for this Information.

Bink said...

FWIW, ever since installing the latest BIOS and/or ESX 4.1, I can no longer reproduce the freezing that occurs on occasion when starting VMs on the T400! Yay!

Carter Alvin68 said...

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Kiriakos said...

Hp DC 7800 SFF is pure ESXi 4.0 Native Ready!
I order to install Esx 4.0 you need another sata/raid controller than the on board

and of course you need 2GB+ of memory at least

Frank said...

I'm trying to do a similar project with a brand new Lenovo G570 (I5-2430M & 8 GB of RAM). I'm trying to install ESXi 5.0 on a clean HD. It boots from the CD, it starts loading, recognizes the CPU and the RAM but, it gets hung-up when it tries to detect the NIC. It gives me a "No Network Adapter" message and instructs me to reboot just to do the same thing. The laptop has an Atheros AR81 Family fast Ethernet adapter.

I located a linux driver for the Atheros NIC but can't figure out how to install it since ESXi won't complete the installation on the HD.

Any suggestions?

Frank ()

Maish said...

Hi Frank, and thanks for your comment.

I have never tried this with ESXi 5.0

Perhaps this might help you with finding and installing the correct driver

http://www.vm-help.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1876&hilit=Atheros+AR81

Kiriakos said...

Hp DC 7800 SFF is pure ESXi 4.0 Native Ready!
I order to install Esx 4.0 you need another sata/raid controller than the on board

and of course you need 2GB+ of memory at least

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