VMware ESXi 5 home lab upgrade

In the past I’ve been using a single server to run my VMware ESXi home lab. it was slow, old, big and loud. I’ve been meaning to upgrade my home lab for a while and just never got around to it, until now! When looking for new hardware I wanted the servers to be as compact as possible, quiet, and low energy usage as possible while still having some horsepower.

I debated on going the whitebox solution as I build all my own desktops anyway, I also looked at several other solutions such as the HP ML310e server, Shuttle XH61V barebones machine, but ultimately decided to go with two Intel NUC i5’s.

Intel NUC i5 and 16GB ram

Intel NUC i5 DC53427HYE Features:

  • Uses very little energy
  • Completely quiet
  • Supports up to 16GB RAM
  • A dual core CPU that scores nearly 3,600 in PassMark benchmarking
  • Includes vPro which allows me to easily run both NUC’s headless
  • Extremely small, nearly 4 1/2″ inch square footprint

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ESXi 5.5 free edition removes 32GB memory limit

There have been a ton of exciting announcements coming out of VMword 2013, one of which is vSphere 5.5 and all of it’s improvements and additions. Along that note, VMware has changed ESXi 5.5 free version to remove the physical RAM limit which was limited to only 32GB in version 5.1.

The new virtual hardware, version 10, we can now grow our home labs into more powerful VM’s as most all configuration maximums have been doubled:

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Horizon View Events Notifier Tool

Chris Halstead (@chrisdhalsted), just made every Horizon View administrators job just a little bit easier by releasing a free tool that will allow you to setup alerts and notifications for events in View such as Warnings and Audit failures. The Horizon View Events Notifier tool uses SMTP and allows you to add multiple addresses in the alert recipients field.

view events config

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Install ESXi 5.1 from a USB Flash Drive

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Many servers already come with a DVD/CD-ROM drive or some kind of ability to virtually mount an ISO image from a network share onto your server to then install ESXi. However, not all do or you just want to have your ESXi image readily available. Here’s a quick step by step instructions on how to use a USB flash drive to install ESXi.

  1. Download ESXi 5.1 from VMware (if you haven’t already) as well as UNettbootin.
  2. Plug in your USB Flash Drive.
  3. Open UNetbootin and select “Diskimage”, set Type to “USB Drive”, select Drive letter of your USB flash drive, and set the path of your ESXi 5.1 ISO image. Then click on “OK”.
    unetbootin setup
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A windows 8 like Task Manager for Windows 7

Windows 8 on Windows 7 memory task manager

I’m not a fan of Windows 8 by no means but this isn’t about how bad I think Windows 8 is, but instead about a neat portable app I’ve came across over at NeoWin.net called DBCTaskman.

DBCTaskman obviously allows you to kill processes or applications as to be expected with any task manager but also allows for detailed views of Memory, Process, and Services running in Windows 7 and is also available in two versions, x86 or x64.

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VMware Horizon View White Papers

VMware has been on a roll here lately releasing new technical white papers for VMware Horizon View. If you already have a View environment or about to roll one out, I’d recommend reading these papers to make sure you’re following the recommended best practices.

Also, be sure to check out my View Windows 7 Optimization Guide as well.