It’s time to actually do what we’ve talked about …
I decided to add slideshows to this post. Hopefully it will create a better experience and make it easier to follow. I tried to make the frame large enough so that you don’t have to switch back and forth between full and normal view but the option is still available.
Once you have all the software packages and tools, move them into a new folder on your Desktop or any other location where you can easily remember and access. Also extract the Plop Boot Manager file (it’s a compressed file in zip format). Simply right click on it and select ‘Extract All’.
Now go ahead and install VMware Player and vSphere PowerCLI by running the executable files, obviously one at a time. No instructions or screenshots for this step, because I am absolutely confident that most people if not all know very well how to install applications on Microsoft Windows (especially those reading this DIY).
Make sure you have PowerShell installed on your machine. On Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 search for ‘PowerShell’ in Windows Search, on Windows 7 you can use Start Menu search option for programs. If you can’t find PowerShell then add/enable it through Windows Features (follow steps below).
If you had installed/enabled Hyper-V Client on your machine to familiarize yourself with virtualization as I had suggested before, you will need to do a few little changes on your Windows system. VMware Player will not run if Hyper-V Client is enabled on Windows, but you don’t have to disable or uninstall Hyper-V Client to resolve this, I mean you could but I prefer to keep Client Hyper-V.
WINDOWS BOOT OPTION WITH NO HYPER-V
A little explanation first! When you enable Hyper-V Client on Windows, the system configures hypervisor services to launch during boot, causing a conflict with VMware Player. Now I do want to keep Hyper-V Client on my system and use it again, and to disable and enable the feature every time I’d like to use VMware Player doesn’t comply with my way of doing things. So to that effect, I will create another Windows Boot Entry and disable Hyper-V initialization (or whatever the correct terminology is), this way I can simply select the version of Windows I’d like to boot into without having to change any of my settings permanently.
Run CMD (command prompt) as Administrator and use BCD tool to create a second boot entry (make a copy of the default entry). Note that you can replace “Windows 10 or 8 No Hyper-V” with any other name you prefer. You can also copy and paste the command below into CMD.
Now edit the entry we just created to disable hypervisor launch. You will have to use the ID that was generated in the first step, the one inside the curly brackets.
Now you may restart the computer to select the version of Windows with no Hyper-V services.
COPY PASTE IN COMMAND PROMPT
Right click on the command prompt application title bar and select “Properties”. Under “Edit Option” make sure “Quick Edit Mode” is checked. Type the command you’d like to use, then move your mouse pointer on the content you want to copy. Press and hold the left mouse button and drag to the left or right as needed. Now double click the right mouse button and the content will be pasted after the command you had typed in.
Now that we have VMware Player, PowerCLI, PowerShell installed and working, we can continue on to prep our ESXi image.
CREATE AND CUSTOMIZE ESXi IMAGE
Our next task is to download and customize the latest ESXi image using Customizer Script, PowerShell and PowerCLI. It sounds more complicated that it is actually. Thanks to Andreas Peetz and his great ESXi-Customizer-PS tool, we only need to type one command to create and customize the image file. I do encourage you to browse his entire web site V-Front and specially learn more about the ESXi-Customizer-PS usage.
Similarly I will walk you through this process using a slideshow method as we’ve done throughout this post.
INSTALL ESXi IMAGE ON FLASH DRIVE
We need to prepare a virtual environment inside VMware Player for this first. Then power on the VM (Virtual Machine) and connect the flash drive before ESXi is booted. We will then go through ESXi installation process and select the flash drive as the destination. Once ESXi installation is complete, power off the VM, change settings to boot or load Plop and through Plop boot up from our USB flash drive. Again we have to use Plop Boot Manager because VMware Player doesn’t allow booting directly from USB drives.
Ready? This one may need a bit more focus and attention.
CONFIGURE AND CUSTOMIZE THE ESXi
So we have an ESXi system on a USB drive ready to go but before we can use it in our real hardware, we must configure it in a virtual environment. We have already set up the environment for Plop, now all we need to do is power up the VM and connect our ESXi flash drive and use Plop to boot from it.
Before we begin though, let’s grab some network information, review and understand it (or skip this section if you know what you’re doing). Then use that information to create an IP address and later on assign it to the ESXi host. As noobs let’s assume we don’t know much about IP which stands for Internet Protocol by the way. You can simply relate to it as your house or in my case unit number. It’s a unique number that identifies your location in the world of networking. Of course what we are going to create is an internal or LAN (Local Area Network) address, basically this is the identification that typically home routers automatically assign to devices and then the router will get an external address to talk to the outside world or the World Wide Web.
I might have gone a bit off track here, but the point is to have a general understanding, so if you were to Google search ‘what’s my ip’ from any device in your home (connected to the router via cable or WiFi) you would get the same IP address for all and every device. And that is the unique external or public IP address assigned to the router by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). We don’t really care about this one though!
Now if you were to look up internal IP information on each device you probably see addresses in the 192.168.1.X range, where ‘X’ is a different number for each device. On a Microsoft Windows system, you can open up a command prompt and type in ‘IPCONFIG’ and press enter to see that information. So go ahead, give it a try and find the information we just talked about.
Once you are satisfied that you can find it, run the command again like this ‘IPCONFIG /ALL’. You probably noticed that there are a few more lines of information this time. We will need to note down IP address, subnet mask, default gateway and DNS server information. Here’s a sample output on my machine.
Did you notice that I have modified my router settings to assign IP addresses in a different range 10.10.0.X?
Alright let’s create an IP address for the ESXi server. Since we don’t want to assign an address that may be given to a new device by the router in the future (of course you can view your router’s settings or even limit it to a certain range), I suggest creating an address at the end of your network range, like 192.168.1.254. Or you can assign anything in between 192.168.1.100 to 192.168.1.125, because it’s safe to assume that there will not be more than 100 devices in your home network. If your network has a different address range, like mine, same rules apply and you can still use either the .254 or any other in between .100 to .125 for the last digits. Below is a generic example:
IP Address: 192.168.1.254
Subnet Mas: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: 192.168.1.1
DNS Servers: 192.168.1.1
With our network address sorted out we can go ahead and set up our ESXi machine. Here comes another slideshow!
We now have a configured and working ESXi installation/flash drive. In the next post, we’ll go through booting our ASRock Q1900-ITX board with this ESXi USB.