Tag Archives: Homelab

Heads Up - ESXi not working on 7th Gen (Kaby Lake) Intel NUC7

I've received reports that the ESXi 6.5 and ESXi 6.0 installer fails to load on the latest 7th Gen NUCs:

  • NUC7i3BNH
  • NUC7i3BNK
  • NUC7i5BNH
  • NUC7i5BNK

The main issue is that the I219-V NIC is not recognized, so the installer fails with the well known "No Network Adapters" error message. Today I managed to get my hands on a NUC7i3BNH to narrow down the issue. By now I've not managed to get the embedded Network Adapter to work. A workaround with a USB-based NIC is possible. Here are my findings so far:

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Homelab: Downsizing vCenter Server Appliance 6.5

In vSphere 6.5 the smallest supported memory configuration for the vCenter Server Appliance has been raised from 8GB to 10GB. The smallest "Tiny" deployment size allows up to 10 ESXi Hosts and 100 Virtual Machines. Resources in Homelabs are limited and you might want to lower the memory consumption of the vCenter Servcer Appliance. This article explains how to lower the resource consumption to be able to lower the memory to about 6GB without noticable impacts.

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Preview on 7th Gen (Kaby Lake) Intel NUC

The 7th Generation of my favorite Homelab systems are ready to be launched and the shipping is expected to start in Q1 2017. Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for labs or as a home server. Intel has put its latest Kaby Lake mobile CPU into the mini system.

Intel NUCs were never officially supported by VMware but they have a great community support. Their 4th5th and 6th Generations are proven in many home labs or even for demonstrating Virtual SAN deployments.

  • Kaby Lake CPU
  • i7, i5 and i3 CPUs are available
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory
  • Available with and without 2.5" HDD slot
  • M.2 slot with NVMe support
  • Thunderbolt 3 support via USB-C
  • USB 3.1 support
  • Intel Optane Memory support
  • External SD Card Slot
  • Intel I219V Network Adapter
  • Front Power Button

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Home Lab Power Management Tipps

Home labs are great to study, extend your knowledge and try out new features. Of course, the hardware is also useful to be used for other purposes like file servers, home automation, media streaming servers and so on.

There are some features to be considered for any type of deployment at home to have a better control and maybe to save some money.

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USB Devices as VMFS Datastore in vSphere ESXi 6.5

intel-nuc-with-usb3-connected-ssdIn ESXi 6.5, there are some changes concerning devices connected with USB. The legacy drivers, including xhci, ehci-hcd, usb-uhci, and usb-storage have been replaced with a single USB driver named vmkusb. The new driver has some implications if you are trying to use USB devices like USB sticks or external hard disks as VMFS formatted datastore.

Some people have reported that they have issues with USB Datastores since ESXi 6.5. I've tried to reproduce and fix those problems. This post explains the changes in the new version and how to create VMFS 5 or VMFS6 formatted USB devices as datastore on your ESXi host. Read more »

Homelab - Will ESXi 6.5 run on Intel NUC?

esxi-on-5th-gen-NUC5i3MYHEVMware vSphere ESXi 6.5 is here and while you should wait to upgrade your production, it's time to explore the new features in your Homelab. I've received a few questions on whether it is safe to upgrade.

Short answer
ESXi 6.5 will run on 5th and 6th Gen NUCs just as ESXi 6.0 U2

Long answer...

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Which Intel NUC to buy for running ESXi? (August 2016)

I'm using Intel NUCs in my homelab since a couple of years and have helped many people to get their lab up and running. This post takes a look at the models that are currently available and makes some considerations which NUC to buy at the moment for specific use cases.intel-nucs-comparison

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Tips for running an Intel NUC Based VMware Homelab

Extend Storage Capacity with USB Datastores
If you need more storage capacity, use external USB drives. You can also use old M.2 or PCIe SSDs by buying an USB3.0 adapter. Make sure to use USB 3 and performance will be fine. Installation is explained here. You can also use USB Disks with VSAN.usb-datastores Read more »

VMware Homeserver – ESXi on 6th Gen Skull Canyon Intel NUC

Intel has launched the Skull Canyon NUC which completes the 6th Gen NUC family with a powerful Core i7 CPU and a redesigned chassis. I will take a look at its capabilities as homeserver running VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homlabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. 6th Gen NUCs in the old layout are also available with an i3 or i5 CPU which have been reviewed here.

esxi-skull-canyon-nuc

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Additional USB NIC for Intel NUCs running ESXi

Intel NUCs with ESXi are a proven standard for virtualization home labs. I'm currently running a homelab consisting of 3 Intel NUCs with a FreeNAS based All-Flash Storage. If you are generally interested in running ESXi on Intel NUCs, read this post first. One major drawback is that they only have a single Gigabit network adapter. This might be sufficient for a standalone ESXi with a few VMs, but when you wand to use shared Storage or VMware NSX, you totally want to have additional NICs.

intel-nuc-usb-nic

A few month ago, this problem has been solved by an unofficial driver that has been made available by VMware engineer William Lam.

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