Clone ESXi Installations on SD Cards or USB Flash Drives

If you have ESXi running on a flash media (USB flash drive or SD Card) you might want to create a ready-to-run backup of your host. This posts describes how you can create a backup of your ESXi hosts and create a media with an identical configuration where vicfg-backup is not a solution.

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ESXi Issues caused by hp-ams module

I recently had strange issues with Hewlett-Packard servers. ESXi hosts randomly have shown a couple of different symptoms:

  • ESXi host unmanageable
  • ESXi host grayed out in vCenter
  • Starting host services fails with an error message:

    Call “HostServiceSystem.Restart” for object “serviceSystem-[*]” on vCenter Server * failed.

  • Cannot perform vMotion to or from the host
  • Starting virtual machine fails with an error message:

    Power On virtual machine *
    A general system error occurred: The virtual machine could not start

  • Restarting services in DCUI fails

    A general system error occurred: Command /bin/sh failed

  • SSH connection to the host possible, but no response after login requests
  • Local console displays an error message:

    /bin/sh cannot fork

  • Error Message received at syslog server

    sfcb-HTTPS-Daemon[*]: handleHttpRequest fork failed: Cannot allocate memory
    crond[*]: can’t vfork
    cpu*:*)WARNING: Heap: *: Heap_Align(globalCartel-1, 136/136 bytes, 8 align) failed.
    cpu*:*)WARNING: Heap: *: Heap globalCartel-1 already at its maximum size. Cannot expand)

  • DCUI message log (ALT+F12) displays an error message

    WARNING: Heap: *: Heap globalCartel-1 already at its maximum size. Cannot expand.

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Unattended ESXi Installation from an USB Flash Drive

I was asked if it is possible to create an USB Flash Drive that can install ESXi on a server automatically. ESXi has a Scripted Install feature which allows to put all installation parameters into a Kickstart file to run unattended Installations. This post explains how to create an USB Flash Drive that does unattended ESXi installations. You can plug it into a Server, power it on and ESXi will be installed automatically.

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Customized ESXi Image for Intel NUC

Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. Unfortunately ESXi does not work out of the box on these small nice systems. This post describes how you can create a customized ESXi Image for Intel NUC in about 5 minutes.


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Howto USB Boot a VM in VMware Workstation 11

VMware Workstation 11 does now support EFI boot configuration in the GUI which enables you to boot from an USB disk without workarounds. You do not have to edit vmx files or use workarounds like mounting USB drives as physical disk or booting with Plop Boot Manager.

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Create a Bootable ESXi Installer USB Flash Drive

For servers without CD drive or remote KVM you might want to use an USB Flash Drive to install ESXi to the hardware. This post explains how to create a bootable ESXi Installer USB Flash Drive in less than 2 minutes. The Flash Drive will work totally identical to an Installable CD.


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Create an ESXi ISO that contains all Patches

VMware does only provide installable ISO files for updates (Bold entries of my ESXi Build List), not for patches. This post explains how you can quickly create an installable that contains all patches.


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ESXi Release and Build Numbers – December Update

Updates for ESXi 5.0, 5.1 and 5.5 have been published at the beginning of December. All Updates are now listed at my VMware ESXi Release and Build Number History.

The latest versions are now:

  • ESXi 5.5 Build 2302651
  • ESXi 5.1 Build 2323236
  • ESXi 5.0 Build 2312428

ESXi 5.0 does now have the Mem.ShareForceSalting option. This additional Transparent Page Sharing management capabilities are also present in 5.1 and 5.5 since October. The option disallows inter-VM TPS to mitigate a security concern.

USB NIC to use with ESXi? Does not work!

I receive many questions on how to make an USB NIC Adapter to work with ESXi. Of course, that’s not an enterprise device and you would not find an USB NIC Adapter in the HCL. But especially for homelabs and the Intel NUC it would be a great enhancement to have more than one network adapter. Unfortunately ESXi is not designed to use USB devices like that. I am not talking about USB passthrough, which enables you to use an USB device inside a virtual machine.


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PowerCLI Script to Calculate VSAN VSPP Points

VMware includes Virtual SAN in their VSPP program. Unfortunately their vCloud Usage Meter, the tool that helps to create a license report, does not support Virtual SAN by now. I wrote a little PowerCLI script to gather the required information.


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