Tag Archives: Homelab

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.


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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.


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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ESXi Installation on NUC6i7KYK fails with “Fatal error: 10 (Out of resources)”

When you try to install VMware ESXi 6.0 on the latest Skull Canyon Intel NUC (NUC6i7KYK), the installation fails with one of the following error messages:

Error loading /tools.t00
Compressed MD5: 39916ab4eb3b835daec309b235fcbc3b
Decompressed MD5: 000000000000000000000000000000
Fatal error: 10 (Out of resources)

Error loading /tools.t00
Compressed MD5: 000000000000000000000000000000
Decompressed MD5: 000000000000000000000000000000
Fatal error: 15 (Not found)

This problem is caused by the Thunderbolt Controller, which is a new component in the NUC6i7KYK, and therefore only the Skull Canyon NUC is affected. The problem can be solved by temporarily disabling the Thunderbolt controller during installation.

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Determine TBW from SSDs with S.M.A.R.T Values in ESXi (smartctl)

smartctl-in-esxiSolid-State-Drives are getting more and more common in ESXi Hosts. They are used for caching (vFlash Read Cache, PernixData FVP), Virtual SAN or plain Datastores. A problem that comes with SSDs is their limited lifetime per cell. Depending on their technology, each cell can be overwritten from 1.000 times in consumer TLC SSDs up to 100.000 times in enterprise SLC based SSDs.

The value to keep an eye on is the guaranteed TBW (Total Bytes Written or Terabytes Written) which is typically provided by the vendor in their specifications. This value describes how many Terabytes can be written to the entire device, until the warranty expires. The current value can be readout with S.M.A.R.T. in the Total_LBAs_Written field.

Unfortunatelly, VMware makes it hard to readout RAW S.M.A.R.T values on ESXi hosts. For that reason I’ve ported a version of smartctl, which is part of  smartmontools to ESXi. I’ve made the package available as VIB. The download link is at the bottom of this post.

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Deploy VMware NSX in Homelabs with Limited Resources

downsizing-nsxWhen deploying VMware NSX in a homelab, its huge resource requirement might be an issue. In the default configuration a small setup with NSX Manager, 3 NSX Controllers and 2 Edge gateways requires 30 GB Memory. Consumer VMs to connect to logical switches requiring additional resources.

This post explains how you can deploy VMware NSX in your homelab with less than 8GB Memory by downsizing each component including:

  • NSX Manager
  • NSX Controllers
  • NSX Edge Gateways
  • Consumer VMs

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VMware Homeserver – ESXi on 6th Gen Intel NUC

Intels 6th Gen NUCs are out and it’s time to take a look on their 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. I’ve posted a preview on the new models in December. Currently, 6th Gen NUCs are available with i3 and i5 CPU


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Preview on 6th Gen (Skylake) Intel NUC for VMware ESXi

The 6th Generation of my favorite Homelab systems are ready to be launched and the shipping is expected to start in December. Intel NUCs are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a perfect system for homelabs or homeservers. Intel has put its latest Skylake mobile CPU into the mini system.

6th-gen-skylake-nucIntel NUCs were never officially supported by VMware but they have a great community support. Their last 4th and 5th Generations are proven in many homlabs or even for demonstrating Virtual SAN deployments.

  • 6th Gen NUCs are equipped with Skylake CPUs
  • i5 and i3 systems will be available in December 2015
  • Up to 32GB of DDR4 SODIMM memory
  • Available with and without 2.5″ HDD slot
  • M.2 slot with PCIe x4 support
  • External SD Card Slot
  • Intel I219V Network Adapter

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Building a Single-Node VSAN

single-node-vsanI was wondering if it possible to speed up my Intel NUC based ESXi with Virtual SAN. The idea is that compared against vSphere Flash Read Cache, Virtual SAN can use the SSD not only as read cache but also as write buffer. This post explains how you can create a Virtual SAN Datastore on a single ESXi host from the command-line without a vCenter Server.

It goes without saying that this is neither the idea behind Virtual SAN nor officially supported by VMware. It also violates VMware’s EULA if you are running Virtual SAN without a VSAN license. To assign a licence you need a vCenter Server and wrap the single ESXi into a Cluster.

My configuration for this test:

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