Tag Archives: Microserver

VMware Homelab in 2015 – Systems Revised with vSphere 6

hp-microserver-2.5-ssdIn the past three years I’ve presented several systems that can be used for VMware Homelabs. Servers for home use are typically not rack based. A good home server is inexpensive, silent and has a low power consumption. In this post I am going to revise the systems presented in previous posts to see how they work with ESXi 6.0:

  • HP Microserver N36L / N40L / N54L
  • HP Microserver Gen8
  • Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC)
  • Gigabyte BRIX
  • VMware Workstation

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How to Upgrade FreeNAS 9.x to 9.3

FreeNAS 9.3 has been released about a month ago. It comes with NFSv4 and VMware VAAI support which are great enhancements for a virtualization platform. As I am using it on my N40L in my Homelab I decided to upgrade my box to FreeNAS 9.3

FreeNAS 9.3 Features

  • NFSv4 support
  • VMware VAAI support
  • WebDAV support
  • iSCSI sequently read performance increased

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FreeNAS on HP Microserver N54L – Shared Storage for your ESXi

The HP Microserver N54L and its predecessors N40L and N36L are widely spread homeservers. I’ve written about using it as ESXi host in my Homelab about 2 years ago. Today it is still a great system to be used with ESXi but there are better alternatives, especially due to its limited memory and CPU power. That was the reason why I rededicated my N40L to be central storage and file server with FreeNAS. This post describes what you need to use the N40L as resilient storage and how to configure it properly for ESXi usage. I will talk about NFS sync writes or performance issues with NFS vs. iSCSI and how to workaround them.


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VMware Homeserver – ESXi on Mac mini

Running ESXi on a Mac mini made by Apple is nothing new. There are many opportunities to consider when you want to build a VMware vSphere Lab or a Homeserver. In this post I am going to cover capabilities, accessories and issues you might encounter in the newest release: Mac mini MD387, Mac mini MD388 and the slightly enhanced Mac mini Server MD389 from 2012/2013. Mac mini offers great performance and is small in size and power consumption and thus makes it a great candidate for running ESXi at home.


The latest version offers 3 models which are different in CPU performance and HDD capacity. The Server version has two 2,5″ hard drives:

  • Apple Mac Mini MD387LL/A – Intel Core i5 (Up to 2x 3.1 GHz)
  • Apple Mac Mini MD388LL/A – Intel Core i7 (Up to 4x 3.3 GHz)
  • Apple Mac Mini MD389LL/A Server – Intel Core i7 (Up to 4x 3.3 GHz)

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VMware Homeserver – ESXi on 4th Gen Intel NUC

Whether you want to build a vSphere Home Lab for testing or a Home Server, basic requirements are the same: decent price, good performance and low power consumption. The Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) family has grown to the 4th generation, including some great enhancements for ESXi Hosts. Definitely the best enhancement is that Intel has added a SATA port to the board, that allows to use more than a single mSATA SSD.


Intel NUC Systems are available as system board only and with a chassis. The 4th Generation NUC is available with 3 type of CPUs: Celeron, i3 and a i5. You can choose between a chassis with, or without 2.5″ drive support.

Available Models (Kit / Kit with 2,5″ Slot / Board only):

  • D54250WYK / D54250WYKH / D54250WYB: Intel Core i5-4250U (up to 2x 2.60 GHz)
  • D34010WYK / D34010WYKH / D34010WYB: Intel Core i3-4010U (2x 1.7 GHz)

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HP Microserver with 2.5″ SSD

vSphere Flash Read Cache (vFRC / vFlash) and VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) – That are the two groundbreaking features in vSphere 5.5. To use one of the features your hardware has to to fulfill a mandatory requirement – A Solid State Drive. To use a SSD with your HP Microserver you need an adapter. Most adapters or “Mounting Brackets” do not work because they are only good to fit the SSD into a 3.5″ slot. They do not have the SATA Connectors at the required position. You need a special adapter for the SSD to fit into the backplane.


  • HP Microserver N36L
  • HP Microserver N40L
  • HP Microserver N54L
  • HP Microserver Gen8 G1610T
  • HP Microserver Gen8 G2020T

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vSphere 5 Homelab – ESXi on HP Microserver Gen8

Hewlett Packard has updated its widely distributed Microserver Series to Gen8. This extremely affordable server which was initially made for SMB and home servers has become very popular in the virtualization scene. Due to its low price and power consumption you can find this system in many virtualization home labs. The Generation 8 Microserver (Gen8 or G8) comes with more power, upgraded ports and an integrated iLO.


The HP Microserver Gen8 is available in 2 versions – G1610T and G2020T. Both models are equipped with a 2 core CPU and can support up to 16GB of RAM. The system is shipped with 4 hard drive trays, which allows the installation of any SATA hard drive. It also has a CPU socket, so you can change the CPU.

  • HP Microserver Gen8 G1610T (2x 2.3 GHz)
  • HP Microserver Gen8 G2020T (2x 2.5 GHz)
  • HP Microserver Gen8 E3-1220V2 (4x 3.1 GHz)

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vSphere 5 Homelab – ESXi on Intel NUC

When you want to build a VMware vSphere Lab at home, Intel might have a great system for you: The Intel NUC family – The Next Unit of Computing. The system was initially designed to be used as home theater or digital jukebox. Due to it’s power it is also a fully adequate replacement for a desktop computer. The Intel NUC is big on performance and surprisingly small in size and power consumption and thus makes it a great candidate for a virtualization home lab.


The Intel NUC System is available as system board only and with a chassis. Currently there are 4 models available, beginning with an Intel Celeron processor and ending with a powerful Intel Core i5 vPro processor:

  • DC53427HYE Kit / D53427RKE Board: 3rd gen. Intel Core i5-3427U (up to 2x 2.80 GHz)
  • DC3217IYE Kit / DC33217GKE Board: Intel Core i3 3217-U (2x 1.8 GHz)
  • DC3217BY Kit / DC33217CK Board: Intel Core i3 3217-U (2x 1.8 GHz)
  • DCCP847DYE Kit / DCP847SKE Board: Intel Celeron 847 (2x 1.10 GHz)

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ESXi 5.x Installation on Intel NUC fails with “No Network Adapters”

When you try to install ESXi 5.x on an Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) system, the installation fails with the following error message:

No Network Adapters

No network adapters were detected. Either no network adapters are physically connected to the system, or a suitable driver could not be located. A third party driver may be required.

Ensure that there is at least one network adapter physically connected to the system before attempting installation. If the problem persists, consult the VMware Knowledge Base.

3rd Generation Intel NUC Models:

  • Intel NUC DC53427HYE
  • Intel NUC DC3217IYE
  • Intel NUC DC3217BY

4th Generation Intel NUC Models:

  • Intel NUC D54250WYK
  • Intel NUC D34010WYK
  • Intel NUC D54250WYKH
  • Intel NUC D34010WYKH

5th Generation Intel NUC Models:

  • Intel NUC5i7RYH
  • Intel NUC5i5RYH
  • Intel NUC5i5MYHE
  • Intel NUC5i5RYK
  • Intel NUC5i3RYH
  • Intel NUC5i3MYHE
  • Intel NUC5i3RYK

This message is caused by missing Gigabit Ethernet Controller drivers that are not included in the ESXi Base Image. To fix that, you have to create an customized ESXi Image and add the proper drivers.

Tested with:

  • VMware ESXi 5.0
  • VMware ESXi 5.1
  • VMware ESXi 5.5

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Preview on HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 for ESXi

Hewlett-Packard has just released a Generation 8 Microserver which is going to replace the well known N36L/N40L/N54L Microservers. The new server has the same trendy design as the entire Gen8 series. The AMD Turion CPU has been replaced by an Intel Ivy Bride CPU which is way more powerful and the memory limit has been raised to 16GB. With that, the new server brings much more power to your VMware vSphere Homelab and allows you to run more virtual machines. In this post i am going to compare both specs to point out what’s new and better.

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