For as long as I have been tinkering with Linux I have always had a server at home for one reason or another. It all started out serving DSLReports.com *nix link list running on Red Hat to now Ubuntu Server that does it all for me on ESXi. But getting to ESXi has not been fun. This blog post is to outline what I had to do to make the switch and maybe help others making the switch.
Why VMWare ESXi
VMWare is a big player in the VM World so I thought this would be a good place to start. Also the fact its a Hypervisor that supports Windows, something XEN and KVM cant do. And the reason it beat out Virtualbox is because it needs a Host OS. I did not feel like managing another OS to keep my VMs runnings but now that I am done I might go back and do it as a Virtualbox built on top of CentOS or Ubuntu. Another big plus of VM over a physical NAS is the fact I get a console for my VM’s. On servers you get things like DRAC from Dell which gives you a console over network but I dont have that luxury. This give me the ability to work on a server without having to drag a monitor. But nothing comes without downsides, and the larget for ESXi is the fact many of its tools are Windows only. The vCenter is Windows only meaning me on OS X I have to use a Windows VM to manage my ESXi server. The vConverter is Linux but then you get another downside in that it seems its does not work for ESXi 4.1. Which is why I started this project on ESXi 4.0 because that is the lastest version that will work for P2V. This is why I think if i was to do it again from the ground up I will do it with Virtualbox and start with a new system. I ended up ditching the P2V after I nuked the drive (doh!).
Hooking up Physical Drive
One thing a NAS needs is a bunch of drives. The best setup is a RAID but my box is ghetto rig of pretty much old parts and ESXi did not support the built in RAID so my system has two large drives. But part of the problem is I have data on the drives as it was being used as a physical system and I did not want them to be locked in to ESX and wanted them to connect to the VM as physical drives. This turned out to be much harder then I expected and I went as far as asking the question on ServerFault and even there it could not get me the right answer. I ended up finding the answer in the arstechnica forums and was able to hook up my two physical drives to my VM.
Get a Nagios VM setup to monitor the NAS, that is just for the fun because if the box goes down I dont know what happen Exchange 2010 Trial
Still my Ubuntu VM will sometimes crash without any error and nothing on console, was hoping this switch would solve that or let me find the problem. Also in the three weeks my system has been up I have had one issue where ESXi itself crashed which is a PITA.