Tag Archives: Homelab

How to add the USB NIC Fling to ESXi 7.0 Base Image

Many people are using the USB NIC Fling by William Lam and Songtao Zheng in homelabs. To make a fresh installation or upgrade as simple as possible, I've created a new Image Profile that contains the USB NIC driver.

This article explains how to create a custom ESXi 7.0 Image including the NIC driver to either upgrade previous versions of ESXi or make a fresh  ESXi installation with USB NIC support.

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Homelab - Will ESXi 7.0 run on Intel NUC?

esxi-on-5th-gen-NUC5i3MYHEVMware vSphere ESXi 7.0 is here and while you might want to wait before you upgrade your production, it's time to explore the new features in your Homelab. I've received questions on whether it is safe to upgrade and some folks are already having trouble with the upgrade.

First of all, short answer:
Yes - ESXi 7.0 will run on 5th - 10th Gen NUCs.

Long answer...

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Export-ESXImageProfile fails with WinError 10054

When creating an ESXi ISO Image from VMware's Online Depot by using the PowerCLI command Export-ESXImageProfile -ExportToISO, the creation might fail with the following error message:

Export-ESXImageProfile : [WinError 10054] An existing connection was forcibly closed by the remote host

Creating an offline .zip bundle (-ExportToBundle) works without any problems. To work around this issue, create the .zip bundle first and then create the .iso file from the local software depot. Read more »

ESXi on 10th Gen Intel NUC (Comet Lake - Frost Canyon)

Intel's Comet Lake-based 10th Gen Frost Canyon NUC series is currently rolled out and after some initial problems with the NIC driver, it is time to take a look at their capabilities to run VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homelabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. The Frost Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU. It's the first series that is available with a Hexa-Core CPU and full 64GB Memory support. Besides that, there are only minor improvements compared to their predecessor, the Bean Canyon.

  • NUC10i7FNH/NUC10i7FNK (Intel Core i7-10710U - 6 Core, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • NUC10i5FNH/NUC10i5FNK (Intel Core i5-10210U - 4 Core, up to 4.2 GHz)
  • NUC10i3FNH/NUC10i3FNK (Intel Core i3-10110U - 2 Core, up to 4.1 GHz)

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How to check NVMe Drives TBW in ESXi with PowerCLI

When working with SSDs, you have to keep an eye on its TBW ("Total Bytes Written" or "Terabytes Written"). A maximum TBW guarantee is typically provided by the vendor in their specifications. This value describes how data can be written to the entire device until the warranty expires. The current value can be checked with S.M.A.R.T.

This article explains how to check the TBW value on NVMe based drives running in an ESXi host with PowerShell or from the command line. If you have a SATA based SSD drive, check this article.

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ESXi on 8th Gen Intel NUC (Coffee Lake - Bean Canyon)

Intel's Coffee Lake-based 8th Gen Bean Canyon NUC is an ideal candidate for running VMware ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many homelabs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. The Bean Canyon is available with i3, i5, and i7 CPU. It's the first series where the i5 is also equipped with a Quad-Core CPU, so both - the i5 and i7 - are ideal candidates for ESXi.

  • NUC8i7BEH/NUC8i7BEK (Intel Core i7-8559U - 4 Core, up to 4.5 GHz)
  • NUC8i5BEH/NUC8i5BEK (Intel Core i5-8259U - 4 Core, up to 3.8 GHz)
  • NUC8i3BEH/NUC8i3BEK (Intel Core i3-8109U - 2 Core, up to 3.6 GHz)

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Intel NUC with 64GB Memory Support (6th - 10th Gen)

Intel NUCs can go up to 32GB Memory for about 5 years. With the growing memory requirements of VMware Software, these numbers have become a problem in NUC based Homelabs. Luckily, single 32GB Modules are available and affordable now which boosts many NUC generations up to 64GB.

At the moment, there are a few vendors providing single 32GB DDR4 SO-DIMM modules. I highly recommend getting the Samsung M471A4G43MB1 module, which is not only very affordable and available but also listed on Intel's compatibility list for 10th Generation NUCs. A single 32GB Module costs about $130 on Amazon at the moment. The price has dropped massively in the last 12 months. In February 2019, a single module was available for $380. The lowest price was around Christmas 2019 at $112. Currently (March 2020) the module is available for $124.
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Backup vSphere Cluster with ghettoVCB

The ghettoVCB script is a well known free backup solution for standalone ESXi Hosts created by William Lam. The script works with ESXi 3.x up to ESXi 6.7. It does not support vCenter or cluster backups out of the box but with a little workaround, you can backup virtual machines in a DRS enabled cluster. I'm using this type of backup for a couple of months without issues.

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ESXi on 8th Gen Intel NUC (Kaby Lake-G - Hades Canyon)

Intel launched a successor to their Skull Canyon based Gaming NUCs - The 8th Gen Kaby Lake-G NUC. The new Hades Canyon named NUCs are the first systems to have two Gigabit NICs embedded which makes them even better to be used with ESXi. NUCs are not officially supported by VMware but they are very widespread in many home labs or test environments. They are small, silent, transportable and have a very low power consumption, making it a great server for your homelab. Generation 8 Hades Canyon NUCs are available with two different CPUs but their main difference is the Graphics chip. Compared to the previous releases commercial Dawson Canyon NUCs, they are not equipped with Intel's vPro Technology.

  • NUC8i7HVK (Intel Core i7‑8809G) - "The big one"
  • NUC8i7HNK (Intel Core i7‑8705G)

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VMware ESXi 6.7 Installation on Intel NUC8i7HNK and NUC8i7HVK

When you try to install VMware ESXi 6.7 on the smaller version of the 8th Gen Hades Canyon Intel NUC (NUC8i7HNK), the installer fails to boot with the following error message:

Shutting down firmware services...
Using 'simple offset' UEFI RTS mapping policy

The problem only happens with the NUC8i7HNK, not its larger brother NUC8i7HVK.

It took a couple month and a lot of people were trying to get it up and running (eg. on Reddit) but the problem was finally fixed by Intel within BIOS Version 51.

  • NUC8i7HNK - Core i7‑8705G - Works with BIOS Version 51
  • NUC8i7HVK - Core i7‑8809G - Works out of the box

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