Mike's Realm chown -R us ./base


Howto install Realtek 8168 Drivers on an existing ESXi 6.0 host

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:


Building a Cost-Effective vSphere ESXi 5.0 Home Lab: Part 2

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) 


Building a Cost-Effective vSphere ESXi 5.0 Home Lab

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
So I came across the new AMD E-350 boards and found gold.  These boards are cheap (~$80-$120) and have an integrated dual-core AMD processor (these are the next generation processors from what is in the HP Micro Servers).  The low energy draw is very impressive, it appears you can run one of these with load and they will consume under 40 watts.  I want atleast 2 rigs and was originally set on quad-core or six-core processors but the ultra-low power consumption of these AMD chips changed my mind there.  I can run 3-4 of these for less money and match core counts.  In my experience I typically run out of memory resources way before hitting any CPU contention issues on the system I manage at work.  Remember this is a home lab, you shouldn't need lots of RAM therefore why have a quad-core or six-core processor if your only going to use 8Gb of RAM in your host?
I ordered these bits last night to try out one and if I like it I'll order 1 or 2 more setups:
  • 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
I have drives, a case and a power supply kicking around already.  I'll post up some performance metrics once the board arrives.
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