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Other Free ESXi good enough to run my windows home server 2011 and a Win 8.1 workstation?

Discussion in 'Software' started by Bungletron, 20 Jul 2015.

  1. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    Dear Bit-Tech brain,

    I am currently serving my home from WHS 2011 on a Asrock Avoton based server (in my sig). This server currently also runs a Windows 8.1 VM workstation via VirtualBox but I think my implementation is imperfect, mainly because I have 16GB RAM, but only eight is available to the server and any VM due to limitations of WHS 2011.

    I spent some of the weekend looking at ESXi, it appears to be a better solution for what I need however I am finding understanding whether I could easily import my current home server over, whether I could easily implement both the server (mainly network shared storage) and workstation on my network and be available for remote duties over the web and whether the free version would suffice as I cannot afford to pay for a commercial license that appears to be way more than i need anyway. Some pointers please?

    First off do you think the free ESXi hypervisor will do here? I think I would run only 2 VMs, 4 cores and 8GB RAM each. I think the only thing I would need to remote manage the VM host over the web for is mainly to restart the VMs.

    Next I would like to import my current install of WHS 2011 which includes a big 18TB RAID 5 volume which is a network share currently handled in hardware by a LSI/Fujitsu Megaraid card. Can I simply assign the entire physical volume to the new server VM as is without having to destroy the array and rebuild it from a backup?

    Finally I would like both VMs to show up on my home network which is currently routed through an Asus N66 router that assigns all IPs via DHCP (I usually reserve a static address for the server and anything else via the DHCP). I understand that the virtual machines are connected tot he network via a virtual switch in the VM host. If I set up the 2 virtual machines can I specify that each should be assigned an IP address from my Asus router or is this impossible? I have watched several videos regarding network set up and this is not clear to me, it appears that form dictates I should/must enter my ip addresses for VMs manually on a separate LAN but then I fear I will not be able to access the network shared files from my physical computers or RDP into the server or workstation.

    Any suggestions you can give me are appreciated, cheers!
     
  2. play_boy_2000

    play_boy_2000 It was funny when I was 12

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    The free version doesn't include vcenter, which is generally only required for managing multiple servers in failover configs and other cool stuff

    Yes, it will be overkill in fact. There are 2 ports (control and console) required to access VMware Vsphere client through a firewall, and optionally you can even SSH into the hypervisor.

    I've not tried, but VMware generally has the best support for importing stuff (search for "VMware vCenter Converter Standalone" and see if it reads the vm file).

    With regards to the raid5 array - I think it's possible, but tricky. Something to do with raw device mapping.

    When a new virtual machine is created, it is assigned a virtual MAC address that stays the same, unless you copy or otherwise seriously modify the VM.

    There are a couple different types of virtual switches - for home use, just add everything to the default management vswitch.
     
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  3. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info! :thumb:

    I was hoping everything I asked of ESXi free was possible, looks like it might be other than the RAID 5 array transfer without destruction. Basically anything I highlighted is potentially a deal breaker so hopefully someone can chime in or I will look into how to handle the array before I go any further.
     
  4. IvanIvanovich

    IvanIvanovich будет глотать вашу душу.

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    Why not use the free version of server 2012 hyperv core?
     
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  5. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    I am not running Server 2012, can I use it?
     
  6. play_boy_2000

    play_boy_2000 It was funny when I was 12

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    Hyper-V is also free, but it's a pain in the arse to setup outside of a domain environment. I went with hyper-v and was able to set up a SMB share right on the hypervisor (it all has to be done using powershell), essentially as my backup NAS, whilst also hosting VM's. My main reasoning was that I wasn't comfortable enough with *nix (I was thinking of having freePBX, also running the NAS) and if my 8TB hhd suffered a hickup, I wouldn't have a clue how to recover the data.

    If you went with hyper-v, you could probably do something similar.
     
  7. Ataraxia

    Ataraxia <b>OOH BABY!!!</b>

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    You can set raid controllers into pass-through mode to the vm and they work pretty much as expected, good post fella.
     
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  8. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    FYI I decided to go ahead, but beware, if your cpu like my Atom/Avoton C2750 does not support Vt-d, then PCI pass through is not an option, I had to scrub the array and add it as a datastore with large virtual disk on it. I am just re configuring everything now, hopefully it will work. Looks like everything else worked as explained, thanks!
     
  9. law99

    law99 Custom User Title

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    I use passthrough for mine. Got a fx6300 amd chip in there. I passthrough a sata controller to my NAS to allow for nas4free to do zfs raid array. Works like a charm. A nice feature for free esxi.
     
  10. faugusztin

    faugusztin I *am* the guy with two left hands

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    With ESXi you still got the option of doing it via "Raw Mapped Disk" :
    http://blog.davidwarburton.net/2010/10/25/rdm-mapping-of-local-sata-storage-for-esxi/

    It will create a "virtual" device which you can assign to a VM - but everything is written directly to the physical hard drive you mapped. You will also have the original filesystem on the drive, as every VMWare metadata will be stored in a small file inside the main vmware drive. That way you can easily have GPT partitioning on drive, with NTFS partitions on it; take the drive out, plug it into a Windows machine and it will work without problems.
     
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  11. Bungletron

    Bungletron Well-Known Member

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    :eek: hmm, I definitely would have tried that first if I knew, I am about a day into a 2 day restore plus as you say I would have like the option to just have the array work in a normal windows machine, yikes :duh:
     

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