May 16, 2009

Things every admin should know about VMWARE'S ESXi server.

This blog will focus on some of the things you should know about vmware's ESXi sserver.

I'm currently running ESXi on a Dell Optiplex 755 hosting two VM's running Windows Server 2008 Standard and Windows Beta 7 RC0 as a Test/Dev environment.  This is NOT production folks!

1. ESXi is basically vmware's stripped down free (as in beer) version of ESX.

2.   There is no upgrade option when booting from CD/DVD install media.  I've also read on forums if you choose the "repair" option it will break things. (which seems logical because you'd essentially be trying to repair a version of an OS that's not installed yet!).

3. Here's how to enable SSH.  Just remember there is not way to filter services based upon ip/network ranges.  It's either listening to the world or it's disabled!  Period.  So if this was a production environment, I'd recommend putting your ESXi server in it's own VLAN protected by a Cisco ASA 5505 (~$300-$500 depending on what vendor you buy from).

       1.  At the ESXi server console press ALT+F1.

       2.  Enter "unsupported" (without the quotes) in the console  window.

       3.  At the Tech Support Mode warning message you will be promted with a login box.  Type the root password.

     4.  You should now be looking at a ~# prompt.  You can now run vi /etc/inetd.conf and uncomment the SecureShell service.

    5.  You can try kill -HUP `ps | grep inetd` to restart the sevice but you may have to end up rebooting the server for the changes to work.

4.  In my opinion, ESXi is not really suited for a mid-large size production environment.  If you have the money, go with ESX sever with SAN attached storage.  If you don't, I'd probably go with VMware Server on a RHEL box with at least iSCSI attached storage.   

Note:  I'm very intereted in figuring out how to install/configure a GNU development environment on an ESXi server so I can compile and install from source iptables and logwatch.  Any suggestions/comments 0n how to do that would be greatly appreciated!!

Disclaimer:  This blog entry comes with NO expressed warranty, guarantee, support, or maintenance of any kind!  Use at your own risk!  

Thanks for reading and have fun in Virtual land!

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