January 10th, 2012 // 10:16 pm @ Paraguin
This is Part 2 of the Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server. If you want to read about the research and decision making involved in getting to this point, please refer to Part 1 in the previous blog post. As we also like to skip the fluff and get to the hardcore details, we’re going to jump right in with the installation of VMware ESXi 5.0.0 Build 469512 (Released in 8/2011). We also tried this and it worked on a previous VMware ESXi 5.0.0 Build 441354. Definitely feel free to link to this as we like sharing the knowledge as well.
[Update for quick links 1/30/2012]
To make linking to the other pages easier….
- The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 1 (Research)
- The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 2 (Installation)
- The Mac Mini VMware ESXi 5 Server – Part 3 (Follow Up)
- OS X on a Mac Mini with VMware ESXi 5
What we used:
- Mac Mini Mid 2011 5,3 – We picked this because mostly because of the Quad Core i7 which also has up to 8 threads. Note: After reading through most of the Apple documentation, the hard drives can be linked with software raid on Mac OS X, but software raid isn’t really an option for VMware ESXi. We recommend a backup plan to be ready since one dead hard drive could be a really bad day if you get too dependent on these systems.
- Upgraded Memory – Though Apple says it maxes out at 8 gb. We found that Corsair CMSO16GX3M2A1333C9 (2 x 8G) tested fine based on the Newegg comments. We must warn those willing to go outside of the specifications Apple has set and say we’re not at fault if you lose your warranty! For this tutorial, we’re doing it with the stock 4 gb to show that it works.
- Apple Super Drive – Since the Mac Mini 2011 doesn’t come with an optical drive, we decided to get one as it’s handy. You can choose to use a USB drive, but we didn’t want the hassle of trying to get it to install off USB as formatting 4 or 8 gb flash sticks is a pain to wait.
- USB Keyboard and Mouse – We are using standard Windows keyboard and 2 button mouse.
- DVI connection to monitor – Yes, you’ll need a monitor with DVI if you want to use the HDMI – DVI connector that the Mac Mini 2011 comes with.
- CD burner with a PC or Mac that is currently working in order to burn VMware ESXi 5 ISO (register at VMware for free) and a NIC driver disc.
- Network cable – You’re going to be happy when this works on the network, but in the mean time you’ll need it to verify it actually works.
Step 1: Burn the VMware ESXi ISO to a CD
Here’s the link to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) download page. The basics are: Click on Download, create / sign in to VMware, download the ISO, and burn to a CD. If you need further assistance than this, you’ll probably in over your head with VMware basics.
Step 2: Download the updated Broadcom NIC Driver (VMware Site)
So, this is the elusive driver. As many of you may notice the release dates of the Build 469512 and the Broadcom NetXtreme I Gigabit driver via VMware are nearly identical in August 2011, this updated driver for some reason just doesn’t make it into the standard ISO. We must say, this was a true pain to find as we had to install VMware ESXi on the Mac Mini first, figure out the driver version, and then determine how to find an updated driver and patch it. “ColinNg” and all those who found that the NIC driver wasn’t working, shouts out to you for throwing out the pointer and here’s the gift back to you guys. Again, here’s the download link: VMware ESXi 5.0 Driver CD for Broadcom NetXtreme I Gigabit Ethernet Driver – 3.120h.v50.2. From iFixIt, this driver also appears in the Mac Mini 2010 though it appears from the posts that there are keyboard and mouse issues which we can’t really help with. The file download is small so it should download quick.
Step 3: Burn the Broadcom NIC Driver to a CD
Yes, we burned that Zip file to a CD as well since we’ll show you in the following instructions on how to mount it and use it. Plus we have to make use of that SuperDrive we bought. Some of you may know how to slipstream it, but we decided to just go it manually and are more than happy to link it to your blog with how to slipstream it into one smooth install process.
Step 4: Connect the SuperDrive to the Mac Mini 2011. Start the installation.
Plug the SuperDrive into the Mac Mini. Load the VMware ESXi installation CD into the SuperDrive. This goes without saying, but you’ll also need the keyboard, mouse, network cable, monitor, and power plugged in as well.
Hold down the letter “C” on the keyboard while powering on the Mac Mini. This will kick it to start booting from the SuperDrive. You should see the VMware ESXi screen from the CD load up and then boot into the setup screens.
Step 5: Install VMware ESXi 5
So for those who just want to see how the installation works, we’ve detailed it with the camera to ensure this is real and how we did it.
Confirm the installation as the disks will get repartitioned. Hit the <F11> key to start the installation. Note that this doesn’t mean you can’t go back and run the Lion recovery (it will still work).
Step 6: Configure Network and Test
From here, you can click on “IP Configuration” in order to update it to a static IP or adjust the DHCP settings (We prefer static since it’s a test VM ecosystem, you are probably building a DC and DNS server in the VMs)
Going back to the “System Customization” screen. Click on the “Test Management Network“. As you can see from the screen shot that the network ping tests fail on our test network. Our goal here was to show you how it is not working and this is expected behavior.
Step 7: Enable ESXi Shell
After verifying that the network tests have failed, the next part is to enable the ESXi shell. This will allow us to be able to update the NIC driver now. Go to the “System Customization” screen again and select “Troubleshooting Options“. Hit the Enter key on at least the first option Enable ESXi Shell. After hitting enter the text should change to Disable ESXi Shell as seen in the screen shot. That is how you know the ESXi Shell has been turned on.
Step 8: Update the Broadcom NIC driver
The following are the commands of how to mount the CD from the SuperDrive, copy the driver over to the local system, update the driver on the system, and then reboot. Please follow these instructions carefully as they need to be done in a specific order for this to work properly. As a reference, we got this information on how to mount a CD-ROM from virtuallyGhetto – VMWare Scripts & Resources. Also, to find the instructions on how to update the driver, we pieced it together from another blog from Emulex: Installing or Updating Emulex Drivers on VMware ESXi 5.0
Copy the offline_bundle zip to /var/log/vmware: cp tg3-3.120h.v50.2-offline_bundle-547149.zip /var/log/vmware
This above step is very important otherwise you will get an error when you try to execute the command to install the driver!!!
Perform the driver upgrade: esxcli software vib install –no-sig-check –maintenance-mode -d tg3-3.120.h.v50.2-offline-bundle-547149.zip
Step 9: Verify Network Tests
After the system has been rebooted, you can now run the network tests and they should pass. DNS might fail for the name of the host if you haven’t already entered the hostname into a local DNS server. You can go back into the ESXi shell to test network connectivity. Overall, we have tested this on two Mac Mini 2011 Quad-Core i7 servers. Both of them work with this process.
Step 10: Next Steps
At this point, download VMware vSphere Client and start going to town. We’d like to thank everyone for their contributions on the internet for this as we’d definitely like to do more write ups to help others as we get more time.