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9.30.2020

Installing VMware ESXi and Initial Configuration

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Since the launch of vSphere 3.5, ESXi has been the default hypervisor for VMware environments. Here’s a quick description of how to get your ESXi environment up and running.

ESXi uses approximately 2 GB of space and 1 GB of RAM. It requires a 64-Bit x86 CPU, 2 GB RAM and at least a 1 GB network card. There is a free version of ESXi but it lacks many of the features of a licensed version. Be sure to check your system for compatibility before continuing: http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php.

Installing ESXi
Register for a license or download from your existing VMware account. Download the ESXi ISO file and burn it to a disc. Boot from this CD on the server you would like to run virtual machines on. When the installer appears, press enter to display the licensing agreement. Press F11 to accept and choose a disk to install ESXi. Accept the warning that your disks will be repartitioned (read: erased). You will then eject the disk, press F11 to install, and, when complete, press enter to restart the machine.

Configuring ESXi
Before you can start building virtual machines left and right, you’ll need to configure ESXi. After your server reboots, press F2 to launch the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI). By default, “root” is the username, with no password. Once you’ve logged in, press F2 to view the System Customization menu, and hit Configure Password to set a password.

The first thing to tackle: network configuration. ESXi attempts to obtain an IP address automatically through DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol). This will fail if you don’t us DHCP, but you’ll probably want to check some of the other settings anyway.

VMware ESXi Configuration

Press F2 after logging in to view the menu. Select Configure Management Network to set up your networking options. To start, select Network Adapters, choosing the NIC you want. Select IP configuration, then static IP to set an IP address, net mask and gateway. After saving, choose DNS configuration to set your DNS and host name.

There are several other options under System Configuration, most of which are self-explanatory. Some helpful things to know are:

Configure Lockdown Mode: only allows local root logins, and requires vCenter.
Restart Management Network: when a VM isn’t responding or has other issues, this is a good place to start troubleshooting, as it restarts the network interface.
Disable Management Network: turning off the network will not affect local VMs.
Restore Standard Switch: only relevant if you are using a distributed vSwitch, this option creates a virtual network adapter and moves the network from your distributed switch to a standard vSwitch.
View Support Information: choose this to see the server serial number, license number, and Secure Shell thumbprint.
Troubleshooting Logs: From here you can enable/disable the local command-line and remote SSH command line, set the time-out length for the command line, and restart VMware agents.

Once you have your network configured and root password set, it’s into the vSphere client to finish up configuration. Download and install the vSphere client on another computer, then enter your IP address, username and password. Ignore any security warnings. Now you’re into vSphere and can start setting up and managing VMs!

Posted By: Joe Kozlowicz

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