Hardware Passthrough in VMware ESXi 6.5

VMware ESXi 6.5 continues to improve the simplicity of using its platform more and more as new editions come out.  Today I’ll show you how simple it is to passthrough a hardware device to a VM.

In this case we are going to passthrough the motherboard disk controller, and LSI 2116 to a VM in order to work on a disk that I will write about in a later post.

From the main ESXi home page we click on Manage and then Hardware.


You will be presented with a long list of all the hardware components that your system presents to ESXi.  For our purposes we need to find the LSI 2116 Controller.  Click the checkbox next to the device and you will get a notification stating you need to reboot in order to enable the passthrough of this device.


Now we simply reboot the system.  Once the system is back up we take the VM we wish to use the hardware on.  Simple Edit the Settings on the VM and Click Add other Device and Select PCI Device


Then we chose or device from the drop down.  For us, since we only have this one device passed, that is the only choice.   Save the configuration and you will clearly see the device added.


In our case we have added a 10K Disk to the Storage Controller that has a unique setup on it, but more on that later.  Once we’ve booted an OS, or in our case the CentOS 7 Installer, I am happy to see that the disk shows up.


ESXi6, Home Lab

How to Configure your Datastores in ESXi 6.5

Another basics posts for those of us who have not had the experience of installing and configuring ESXi 6.5.  Today we will configure our Datastores.

Once we have logged into our ESXi client web page, click on Storage and the Datastore Tab


The initial Datastore is the media that you installed your ESXi “OS” on.  For me it was a 64GB SATADOM.  I do not wish to place any VMs on this, but I do have a NVMe Drive installed in the machine that I want my vSphere and vRealize components to live on.  The thinking is if the NVMe drive fails, I will have backups of those VMs and be able to purchase and install a new drive, and then restore the VMs.

To setup the new Datastore, click New datastore and select Create new VMFS datastore and Click NextSnip20170319_19.png

Then we would select our device to install the Datastore on and continue on our merry way.  Wait though, does anyone see the NVMe drive?  Why isn’t it there?


Now it’s possible that this is a quirk of the new Install or its a quirk of the HTML5 Client.  I have noticed at least with vSphere in my job that you still have to fall back to the “Fat” Client from time to time. In this case we do not.

If we click on the Devices Tab and highlight the NVMe drive, we get the option to select New Datastore



When we click that we get the Option to Name Our Datastore, Partition it, and then complete the steps.  It seems it is just a shortened version of the Datastore Creation Wizard, and that the Storage Datastore Creation Wizard doesn’t have the necessary code to recognize the NVMe Drive.

So first we name the drive.


Then we Partition it utilizing the entire drive


Accept the Warning and we are complete.


Going back to the Datastore Tab we see the two stores.




How to Add a Physical Nic to a Virtual Switch

With my brand new VMware ESXi Installation, it takes some time to configure everything to your liking and to best practices.  ESXi 6.5 is not shy about warning you when you do not have redundancy or something configured as it should.

With my setup I have two 1Gbe NICs but ESXi only configured one NIC as the second was not active.  Now that it is cabled and active, lets add it to the Virtual Switch.

At the main ESXi home page, click on Networking and verify that each NIC you wish to use shows as Enabled and has a Link Speed correct for the Network Adapter


For my installation the only two NICs we worry about are the first two, as vmnic2 corresponds to a 10Gbe Mellanox Card that has yet to be configured.

If we click on vSwitch0 we notice that VMWare has a warning!


If we click Actions we can Choose “Add Uplink”


We can see that VMware has added vmnic1.  Now wasn’t that simple!  No digging for the correct setting, just nice and easy.


Once we save and refresh the view, we see the Warning is gone and that we now have the two adapters configured for the Switch.


If we look at the Monitor tab under the VMNetwork we can see in the Events that the warning has cleared and why.



How to Assign a License to an ESXi Host with the new HTML5 Console

For those of us familiar with the “FAT” Client that ESXi used to have, this will not be anything new.  For someone that is new to VMware this might take them a while to figure out.

I have a brand new ESXi 6.5 install that is using the Free License.  Luckily I am a VMUG user and have access to a full license.

The setup is very simple, access your ESXi HTML Web Console.  For me I was greeted with a warning that the License would expire in 60 days.


To license the host, it is very simple . Select Manage and then Licensing


Then you click Assign License and Copy and Paste your License Key into the Window.  Click Check License and then Assign LicenseSnip20170319_7.png

Then you can see that your License will change from Evaluation Mode to the License that you have purchased.Snip20170319_8.png




How to Upgrade VMWare ESXi 6.0 to 6.5 via USB

VMWare ESXi just upgraded to version 6.5 and those of that are part of the VMware Users Group (VMUG), we were just able to get our hands on the ISOs.

To upgrade VMware ESXi, it is very simple, just load the ISO on a bootable USB Drive, plug it into the server and let it upgrade for you.  For me its a bit easier, as this is a brand new VMWare ESXi server, and if something went wrong who cares, I have nothing on it.


First step is the hardest, create a Bootable USB with the VMware ESXI 6.5 ISO on it.  For my needs, I use Rufus.  Its free and portable on Windows.


The setup couldn’t be easier, download Rufus, download your ISO, plug in your USB, click Create a bootable disk using ISO Image and click on the CDRom Icon.  Select your ISO and click Start.  In a couple minutes you will have your bootable ISO.

Next step is to install the Update.  Plug the newly create USB Drive into your server, and boot from it.


Once the Installer loads hit Enter


Hit F11 to Accept the EULA


The installer will verify your devices and continue.

The installer will discover the device that the previous installation of ESXi is installed on and select it for you.  Hit Enter, and select the Upgrade Option that works for your installation.  For me it didn’t matter as I have no VMs installed currently.IMG_0321.jpgIMG_0322.jpg

ESXi will ask you to confirm the install and then it starts installing.  Once completed, remove the media (USB Drive) and the installer will reboot for you.


Now one of the benefits of 6.5 is that there is no more “Fat” Client.  Its all HTML5 based.  Snip20170319_3.png

ESXi6, Home Lab

ESXI 6.5 Install on SuperMicro Xeon D Hardware

Purpose of this guide is very simple, show an ESXI Install from start to finish and to help me remember how I did the install if I need to do it again.  Hopefully it will help guide some first timers as well.

Our hardware is as follows

SuperMicro X10SDV-7TP4F

4X Intel DC S3710 400GB Sata SSD

1X SuperMicro 64GB SATA DOM

Mellonox Connect X2 10Gbe Card

64GB DDR4 ECC Memory

For me its simple, as I have a SuperMicro Motherboard with Console Re-direction.  I can just mount the ISO via the console instead of having to create a USB with Rufus or so I thought.  Java is a bit screwy on Sierra, so I had an old USB for VMware, so I chose to use that with the iKVM Client with Chrome.


The F Function Keys also don’t work all that well either so I had to use the Virtual Keyboard, which allowed me to boot from the USB Drive.  Snip20170319_3.png

Once the installer loads, you will be prompted to hit enter to continue


Click F11 to Accept the EULA and ContinueSnip20170319_3.png

The Installer will Scan for Drives to Install VMWare to and then present you your options


For my purposes I will be using the SATA SSD which happens to be a SuperMicro 64GB Sata DOM.  The NVMe Drive will be used to host the VMSphere and VRealize VMs.  The Intel DC 3710 400GB Drives will be used to host VMs.  I plan on testing utilizing software RAID for these Drives.  The issue will be managing the VM start.  If the VM that hosts the software RAID starts slower than the VMs that utilize it for storage, we will never have those VMs start up.

Next we select the Keyboard


Then we select a root password.  Do not forget this.  If you do, it can be difficult to get the system working without a full reinstall.


The installer will probe for hardwareSnip20170319_7.png

Now it will confirm with you that this is indeed the drive you wish to install on and proceed with the install once you hit F11.  Now take a little break and let VMware install. For us this is version 6.1 not 6.5, which is the current version.  We will walk through upgrading VMWare to the latest version later.



For us the installation took less then two minutes.  Snip20170319_10.png

If all goes well, upon reboot you will see this screen



That’s it!  You have a working Vmware EXSi 6.0 Installation.  In our next post, we will work on upgrading VMWare ESXi to version 6.5.


Trinus 3D Printer – Click on First Print

I about a year ago backed the Kickstarter for the Trinus 3D Printer.  I have tried a couple 3D Printers, with the best so far being the M3D Printer (which was also a Kickstarter).  I went with another DIY, printer that needed to be assembled.  That printer did not turn out well, as it was far too complicated to install and the software was more than I was willing to fool around with.


The Trinus was touted as all metal, easy to assemble, and even could do laser engraving.  In the end I backed it, and after a long back and forth I finally received mine.

I want to caution anybody thinking about getting a 3D Printer that it is an investment and you must absolutely have patience.  Things are not going to work perfectly, your going to have to fight with directions, ask for help on forums, and suck up hours of your time getting your printer to work.  This is not a MakerBot, that is why its a third of the cost.  When you doing get it working, all the swearing, cuts and bruised ego will be worth it.

I wanted to post this so that some Trinus users do not get stuck like I did.  If when you trying that first test print, you hear a click when you try to print, and it looks like the print nozzle is embedding itself into the BuildTak, stop!  The Height of your nozzle is not correct.

Follow this guide.  Remember in this case your nozzle is set too low, hence it is hitting the BuildTak, and you need to set it to a minus offset.

Watch the printer in action here.  This is a the test print that is build in with each printer.  Scheduled to take two hours and it looks pretty good in action.