Tag Archives: Homelab

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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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)

NUC6i7KYK-Skull-Canyon-NUC-back
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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