ESXi Home Lab Post Install Tasks – Part 1


By now you’ve watched the videos on how we went about creating our very own ESXi home lab.  From the hardware build / acquisition, to loading up the software and logging into your new setup.

This is going to be a multi-part tutorial which will break down like this.

  1. Part 1 – Basic Host configuration (This Post)
    • Installing your vSphere Client
    • Network configuration
    • Persistent storage configuration
  2. Part 2 – vCenter Installation
    • Installing your copy of vCenter on Windows 2008 R2
    • Creating your Datacenter, and Adding Hosts

Lets get right into the procedure for setting up our new ESXi node.  First you’ll need to install the vSphere client so that you can manage the device.  Because ESXi is designed to be as lightweight as possible, when you follow the procedure below, unlike older installations of ESX, you’re downloading the vSphere client from VMware directly.

First find out what IP address your DHCP server assigned to your ESXi server.

Now that we have the IP address, we’re going to open up your favorite browser of choice and visit the website listed previously to download the client.  Don’t worry about the browser error, it’s just using a default self signed certificate.

Click the “Download vSphere Client” link.  Save the installer, then run it.  It’s pretty much a NEXT, NEXT, FINISH process, nothing too crazy.

Once we’ve got the client installed, open it up and enter the IP address of your ESXi’s host, root, and your password (note some have said that passwords entered during the install procedure are good for an initial boot.  You may need to goto the local console and login to set a password again.  If you’re typing your password in correctly, and still getting login credential errors, head to the local console, press F2 to modify system settings, enter root for the username, and leave the password field blank.  This will grant you the ability to specify a password.  You should probably change your management settings while  you’re here, the process I will demonstrate below is meant for pure remote access. But as always your mileage may vary based on your requirements)

You’ll get another security warning (again, self signed SSL certificate)  This is safe to always remember, and ignore.

Now you’re presented with your main management window.  But notice that we don’t actually have any persistent storage in this box.  I’ve elected not to put any hard drives in my servers because I’m going to be using only iSCSI storage. But again, you may not have to go through adding SAN storage right now, but it’s always good to get the little stuff out of the way.

Here’s where I mentioned above that we’re going to be changing the IP address of this box remotely.  I elected to document the remote procedure, but again, this can be done easier at the local console if you have access.

First we’re going to navigate over to the configuration tab, and then down to the networking link.
Now we’re going to change the IP address from DHCP to Static.  To do this we click the properties for the vSwitch0.

Once the vSwitch0 Property page comes up, select “Management Network” and click Edit.

Now click the IP Settings tab, enter your Static IP information and click ok.  NOTE: Make sure these settings are correct, if you don’t, you’ve just hosed your ability to access your box.  Once you click OK in this screen, the IP settings will be instantly changed, and you will lose connectivity to the host.  Reconnect, and let’s continue the process of adding persistent storage.

We first need to go back to the networking settings under the configuration tab.  Once there click on “Add Networking” in the upper right corner.

Select VMkernel as the Connection Type because this is a system used  connection.  This will not be presented to the Virtual Machines we create on this host.

The hosts I’m configuring currently have 2 1gbps nics in them, and it’s always best practice to separate out Virtual Machine networking traffic from management and storage traffic.  So for the purposes here I’m going to select my unused NIC which is labeled vmnic1.  (vmnic0 is the default NIC that the management network, and virtual machine network are bound to.)

Go ahead and label this Port Group as iSCSI so that it’s easy for you to remember.

Now configure your IP address settings for the VMkernel port.  This will need to be on the same network as your iSCSI device.  In my case it’s using the same network as everything else in the house, however a large majority of more elaborate home labs will isolate this via a different subnet, or VLANs.  As I mentioned, we’re not doing a ridiculous amount of traffic, so this is ok for now, but NEVER put storage and VM traffic on the same broadcast network.  In this case the IP is going to be Click next, and finish.

Now we have 2 distinct vSwitches performing different roles.  vSwitch0 is handling all of the management traffic and VM traffic, while vSwitch1 is handling the iSCSI communication to our SAN.

Let’s add some storage!  First click the storage adapters link on the left under the configuration tab.  Notice that while the controller cards show up, I don’t actually have anything attached to them except for a DVD-ROM drive.  That’s why we’re getting the information box on the main screen warning us of no persistent storage.  We’re going to remedy that right now.  Click “Add…” in the upper right hand of the Storage Adapters window.

Oh how nice! VMware knows we want to add a Software iSCSI Adapter already!  Actually, because we dont’ have a compatible FCoE Adapter in the host, the only thing we can add is an iSCSI adapter.  Hardware HBA cards are configured through onboard ROM’s not through VMware for storage, so this is all we have.  Once you’ve clicked OK, VMware will let you know how to continue the configuration.

Now that the software iSCSI adapter has been added to our list of Storage Adapters, click the new adapter, and select properties in the details window below the adapter list.

When you have the properties sheet open for the Software iSCSI Adapter, click over to the Network Configuration tab.  Click Add, and select the iSCSI port group we created earlier, and click OK.

Now it’s time to enter the address of our iSCSI SAN.  Before you do this make sure you have your iSCSI target information, including any CHAP credentials you may have set when creating the target.  I elected not to specify any credentials because it’s easier that way, but certain storage arrays do require some sort of authentication when setting them up, so make sure you’re aware of that.  In this instance, my iSCSI SAN Target is bound to  So we’ll add that as a location under the Dynamic Discovery Tab.

Once you’ve clicked close on this, you’ll be greeted with a Rescan request.  Go ahead and click Yes to see if everything is setup correctly between your host and iSCSI device.  If the connection is correct, you’ll see a Device listed in the Details pane of the Storage Adapters window.

If this is the first host you’ve connected, you’ll need to create a LUN by going to the Storage section under the Configuration tab.  Click add storage, and it’s a very easy wizard asking you what you want to create.  You’ll select Disk / LUN and continue from there.  As I’ve already connected another host to this iSCSI target, there was already a VMDK LUN created, and this host picked up on that right away.

Congrats! You’ve just setup your ESXi host with iSCSI persistent storage!

Check back shortly for Part 2 where we dive into the installation of vCenter 5.0!

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or in the forums!



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  1. Pingback: TNT004 – ESXi Lab & XBOX 360 Fightstick Wrapup | The New Tech

  2. Really curious how you are going to install vCenter 5 to manage ESXi hosts. Don’t you need to purchase at least a VI Foundation license to have vCenter manage ESXi hosts?

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