Easy ESXi Patch Updates

If you are not familiar with v-front.de and you have a ESXi servers, you are really doing yourself a dis-service.  v-front.de maintains a repository of all ESXi updates and makes it very easy for you to update your servers when the newest patches come out.

Lately I have been having a series of interested GUI crashes with ESXi no matter what OS or Browser I use.  Knowing I was a bit behind on patches, I decided to update.

From their patching site I was able to grab the latest software profile and install it.  The steps are easy to do this and I will detail it here.

    1.  Enable the SSH Shell for your ESXi Host. At the Host Tab, click Actions -> Services – Enable Secure Shell (SSH).
    2. Going to the patching site and clicking on the latest update, v-front.de lists us the steps how to update our host.
      esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
      esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.5.0-20170404001-standard
      -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
      esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e false -r httpClient
    3. Reboot and then verify that the vibs have updated
      [root@esxi:~] esxcli software vib list | grep esx-base
      esx-base                       6.5.0-0.19.5310538                    VMware    VMwareCertified     2017-05-13
      [root@esxi:~] esxcli software vib list | grep esx-ui
      esx-ui                         1.18.0-5270848                        VMware    VMwareCertified     2017-05-13
      [root@esxi:~] esxcli software vib list | grep vsan
      vsan                           6.5.0-0.19.5310540                    VMware    VMwareCertified     2017-05-13
      vsanhealth                     6.5.0-0.19.5310541                    VMware    VMwareCertified     2017-05-13
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How to Setup Swap in ESXi 6.5

Another VMware basics post and this time I will teach you how to set up Swap for an ESXi Host.  The Swap here is for the VMKernel, and basically can create performance boost for those hosts that are heavily utilized.  For myself, I created a RAID 1 Volume of two Intel DC3710 800GB SSDs to for this.

The steps to do this are easy.  First create a datastore on your volume of choice.  It is best to use a low latency SSD that is local to the hosts.

Then we go to Host-> Manager and under the System Tab select Swap.

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Then we click Edit Settings, and change the Data Store to the one we just created.

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That’s it, now we have the Cache there.

If we browse to the DataStore we can see there is a swap file created.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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

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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.

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Then we Partition it utilizing the entire drive

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Accept the Warning and we are complete.

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

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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

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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!

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If we click Actions we can Choose “Add Uplink”

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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