About one year ago, I hesitated about what to purchase for my new home lab. One day I discovered Simon Seagrave’s http://www.techhead.co.uk. As a result, some time later I bought a HP ML110 G5, followed by a HP ML110 G6.
And that isn’t all, you buy a server with 1 or 2 GB Memory and a single NIC, so a hardware upgrade is inevitable. Again, TechHead was of great help.
I regularly receive new comments on blog post “HP Proliant ML110 G6 Released – Still a worthy virtualization work or home lab server?” and I notice that people often encounter problems while configuring the G6 or installing ESXi.
So in this post, I will describe:
– The basic configuration of my G6
– Hardware Upgrade
– Important BIOS settings
– Installing VMware ESXi 4.1 Update 1
The basic configuration of my G6
An actual overview of the components of my home lab can be found here. The HP ML 110 G6 has the following characteristics:
Server 2 (Make/Model): HP ML110 G6
ProLiant BIOS: 027
CPU: 1 x Intel Xeon X3430 @2,4 GHz (processor options: VT-d (Directed I/O))
Memory (Make/Model): HP 2GB 2Rx8 PC3-10600E-9 kit
Memory (Amount): 2 x 2 GB (1 x 2 GB was for free :-))
Hard Disk (Make/Model): WD 250 GB 7200 RPM SATA
No of Hard Disk: 1
RAID Level (if applicable): No
Disk Controller (Make/Model): On Board Ibex Peak, 4 ports SATA plus 2 ports SATA
CD/DVD Drive (Make/Model): HP DVD ROM DH20N SATA
No of Hard Disk: 1
Network Card (Make/Model): On Board NC107i PCI Express Gigabit Server Adapter
Network Speed: 1 GB/s
Hypervisor/Operating System: VMware ESXi 4.1 on SanDisk Cruzer 4 GB USB
The first upgrade was extra memory. I bought one pair of the specified Kingston 4 GB modules and combined the modules with the HP modules.
Memory (Make/Model): Kingston KVR1333D3E9s/4G (4GB PC3 – 10600 CL9 ECC 240 – Pin DIMM)
Memory (Amount): 2 x 4 GB
The idea was to try this combination, which would give me a total of 12 GB memory. In case of failure, the scenario was to buy another pair of these modules. The combibation works fine.
With VMware it is said you cannot have enough NICs, even in a home lab. This Intel Card is not expensive and it functions well with ESXi 4.x.
Network Card (Make/Model) : Intel EXPI9301CT = Intel 82574L
Network Speed: 1 GB/s
How about storage? Both servers are equipped with a rather small and single harddisk and lack a supported RAID controller. From the moment I decided to buy a second server, it was clear to have some sort of shared storage. There are a lot of possibilities, you can use virtual appliances like Openfiler to simulate iSCSI storage or NFS. Finally I decided to buy a relatively cheap Iomega StorCenter ix2 with 2 x 1TB disks configured in RAID-1.
Network connectivity is provided by a Cisco SLM2008 8-Port Gigabit Smart Switch, see this link for a review.
Important BIOS settings
There are a few important BIOS settings to review, I will not go into every detail, but show some relevant settings to create a nice ESX or ESXi host.
The Advanced Window overview. I am not sure about the “Processor power Efficiency” option, it should correspond with the Power Settings in the vSphere Client (in the vSphere Client, select ESXi host, go to Configuration Tab, Hardware section, Power Management).
The “Advanced Chipset Control Section”. Make sure you enable the “Intel VT for Directed I/O (VT-d)”. See this link for a demo.
The “Advanced Processor Options”. In my case the “Intel(R) Virtualization Technology” setting was disabled. Make sure it is Enabled. The “Processor Hyper-Threading” setting does not make sense , because the Intel Xeon X3430 does not support hyper-threading.
The “Harddisk Configuration” window. In this blog post the reason for choosing the “SATA mode selection” AHCI is explained.
Finally, check the Boot order, we need this for the next section on Installing ESXi.
Update per 10–8-2011, more on CPU settings in this post.
Installing VMware ESXi 4.1 Update 1
Both servers in my home lab run ESXi instead of ESX. I have created a few virtual ESX servers, in case I need to do some testing on ESX. With ESXi, you have the option to install on the local hard disk or on an USB memory stick . I have decided to install ESXi on a USB memory stick (Sandisk Cruzer 4GB). The G6 has a USB connector on the mainboard. However, because I do change the memory stick on a regular basis, I use one of the external USB connectors.
Another concern is the HP DVD ROM that came with the server. You can install ESXi 4.0. But when you try to install ESXi 4.1, you will be presented this window. The DVD ROM is not supported.
I have read that people replaced the DVD ROM for a supported drive.
Another approach is to use the Virtual Media. Unlike the G5, the G6 is equipped with a Lights-Out 100 remote access card.
Out of the box it has functionality to start and stop the G6, review sensors, event logs and alerting, but lacks the remote console functionality. After obtaining an additional license, the remote console and virtual media functionality become available.
Steps to install ESXi 4.1 U1 with Virtual Media. Download the correct .ISO image. Do not download the HP customized .ISO, these images will not work on a ML110 G6.
Now, it is time to mount the .ISO image. In the menu, go to Control en Virtual Media…
Make sure your media is connected when you fire up your G6. In my case it took me a few reboots before I discovered that the media was not connected at boot time 😦
Boot the ML 110 G6, after a few moments, the boot menu shows up, choose “ESXi Installer” to start the actual installation.
In the next window, press “Enter”to continue the installation.
Press F11 to Accept the licence terms and continue.
The “Select a Disk” windows, shows both storage devices. The first one is the USB memory stick, the second device is the local SATA disk. Of course, we choose the first device.
An extra warning to tell us there is some old data on the USB memory stick, which is OK.
After this last warning the installation will start by pressing the F11 key.
Sometime later we receive a notification that the installation has been finished, the server must be rebooted.
Before reboot, first Disconnect the virtual media and remove it.
The server boots, and after a few moments…
Now you are ready to start the configuration part.
That is the whole story. In case you have any questions or remarks, please feel free to respond.
This post is dedicated to all the people that responded to the post on TechHead. I want to say, thank you to all contributors, it was invaluable and has helped me so much.