I was recently updating my home lab and ran into an issue with my NICs as VMware no longer has the Realtek 8168 drivers embedded in the ESXi installer for 5.5/6.0. I tried the old method of injecting the driver into the ISO and that proved unsuccessful since the driver is blacklisted -- with the release of vSphere 6.0 VMware has implemented a driver blacklisting feature. Fortunately you can bypass this feature to get your home lab up and running:
So it's been awhile since my last post on Building a Cost-Effective vSphere ESXi 5.0 Home Lab--I have been playing with this system now for a few weeks and am loving it--I've ordered parts for a 2nd system and might spring for a 3rd...Remember that the chip on this motherboard supports AMD-V, so you can do practicably everything except for VMDirectPath I/O with this system.
I've been running upwards of 7 VMs on it at once and have had no real problems. Yes ready times can get high, but I've never had them over 30% under that kind of load. Again this is a home lab, and somewhat high ready times don't effect anything except a couple extra seconds here or there when I am doing something intensive.
This little box rocks for a home lab, the key thing to remember is that it IS a home lab--run everything with 1vCPU and minimal amounts of ram assigned. (I don't have a single VM over 1Gb of RAM assigned). The biggest slow down in my experience with this system comes from swapping on local storage--not CPU contention. (I haven't connected this to my OpenFiler box yet)
Many folks have blogged about building a home lab--I have an old lab that really draws some power and not really giving me what I'd like. With that in mind I set out to build a new lab but with the intent of being as cost-effective as possible. Lots of folks are running T610s and T110s but those draw a lot of power and cost quite a bit more then I'd like. Others white-box some awesome labs for cheap but they still consume a lot of power.
I came across the HP Micro Servers that seem to be gaining alot of popularity, but opted against them for 2 reasons:
- They use older generation AMD processors - I can white-box similar functionality with the latest generation processors for less money
- HP - 'nuff said
- Motherboard: ASUS E35M1-M Pro
- RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL