Monthly Archives: November 2009

put VMware ESXi 4.0 on the ASUS Terminator T3-M3N8200

i have been shopping around for a small, silent, cheap computer that can take 8GB of RAM and run a quad core CPU and the barebone computers from Asus are really nice.

i accidently bought the T3-P5P43 a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t read the specs carefully enough and when i received it i noticed that although it can host 8GB of RAM, it can only do so with two memory sticks (instead of four which is much cheaper). that unit is now serving media to our tv, replacing an aging mac mini G4 (now running Windows 7 of course).

the hardware

this is the configuration i bought:

ASUS Terminator T3-M3N8200, GeForce 8200
Socket-AM2+/AM3, DDR2, SATA, HDMI, GbLAN, PCI-Ex(2.0)x16
AMD Phenom II X4 945
3,0Ghz, AM3, 8MB, 95W, Boxed
2x Crucial DDR2 PC6400 4GB KIT CL6
Kit w/two matched DDR2 PC6400 2GB CL6

the first thing you will notice when you boot the ESXi4 cd is that the installation program will panic and say “lvm driver failed to load”. if you are a unix-geek you will immediately think that ESXi can’t find the hard drive. true. but not in this case. VMware ESXi will panic if it can’t find at least one functional NIC to attach a driver to. and ESXi 4 doesn’t come with a driver for the integrated marvel yukon NIC on the motherboard of the T3-M3N8200. so to make the installer not panic you need to put in a supported network card. i used a cheap intel pro/1000 GT desktop adapter (e1000).

the install

unfortunately the internal hard drive won’t be found even with the intel nic so i settled on a more elegant solution: i installed ESXi 4 on a SD memory stick i had lying around. that way the installed system is separated from the datastore.  here is how you do it.

  1. attach the memory stick (or any USB-based drive you want to install on) and boot the VMWare ESXi 4 cd.
  2. if you have a supported NIC in the machine the installer will give you the option to install on the SD card(!).IMG_0207
  3. select the SD drive and let the installer run.
  4. eject the install cd and restart the newly installed server.

IMG_0209

now you want to copy a customized oem.tgz to the server to get support for the internal hard drive – so you will have somewhere to put your virtual machines on!

enable ssh support

to transfer files to a ESXi machine i find using SCP via SSH the easiest way.

  1. at the console press ALT+F1.
  2. type “unsupported” (without quotes)
  3. log in as root (the default password is <blank>. if you’ve already set a password through vsphere client, use that one.
  4. type vi /etc/inetd.conf (if you don’t know how to use the vi editor use google, or even better: get a book)
  5. uncomment the two lines that start with SSH
  6. reboot the server

enable support for the mass storage controller

okey, so now we have the server installed and we can use SSH to remote control it. just the hard drive left.

  1. go to http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/customize_oem_tgz.php and download the driver pack for the nVidia MCP78 SATA controller (10de:0ad4).
  2. open your SCP client of choice (in windows i like WinSCP) and connect to the newly installed server.1612-4126642d227eac2f
  3. copy the file you downloaded (oem.tgz) to /bootbank/. overwrite any existing files.
  4. restart the server

log in to the console (ALT+F1 or SSH) and verify that the new drivers are loaded and are attached to the mass storage controller.
type: lspci –v and look for this:

lspci -v | more

00:09.00 SATA controller Mass storage controller: nVidia Corporation  [vmhba1]
Class 0106: 10de:0ad4

if it doesn’t say [vmhbaX] after the contoller you have done something wrong.

finished!

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