Tag Archives: VMWare

Boot VMWare Workstation from USB using Plop

I found the guide below when trying to boot a VMWare Workstation virtual machine from a USB stick with a bootable image of XenServer that I created using the great utility UNetbootin.

VMWare does not have an option in the BIOS to boot from a USB device so in order to accomplish that I followed the instructions below by Vladan Seget which explains how the use the Plop boot manager.

01. Download boot manager from PLoP
02. Use the Iso in the boot manager as a boot device to boot your VM
03. Add an USB adapter to your VM (if not already done).
04. Insert your USB stick with ESXi 4 installed in it.
05. When your VM boots from that ISO, just select USB from the menu.

VMWare ESXi flash drive only 4Mb

If you were using a flash drive or external hard drive to install VMWare ESXi then you will notice that when you want to use that drive for something else, it only appears to Windows as ~4Mb.

You will probably try to format it inside of Windows but this will still only leave you with the 4Mb of usable space as if the max capacity of the drive has been reduced. Even in Windows Disk Management, you will be completely unable to remove the partitions that were created by ESXi

In order to return this drive to its original capacity you must use the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. Just format it with this program and then you will be all set.

ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe and VMWare ESXi

For anyone out there who may have the same motherboard as I do, the ASUS A8n-SLI Deluxe Socket 939, I wanted to let you know that it DOES in fact work with VMWare ESXi. Since their hardware compatibility list (HCL) is limited to commercial off-the-shelf servers I wanted to note that it is fully functional (except for that only 1 of the 2 NICs work).

I was able to attach a storage pool directly to the onboard SATA controller and 1 of the 2 gigabit NICs is supported by ESXi with no modifications necessary.

I was also able to plug in a USB drive with ESXi installed and boot right into the OS, connect remotely, and manage the server.

Install VMWare ESXi on a USB stick

Next I wanted to try to set up VMWare ESXi. I also read about how you can run ESXi off of a flash drive and I thought I would give this a try so I could dedicate the entire physical hard drive to running WHS.

I read that I could run through the installation normally and just tell it the installation destination is the USB stick, however this did not work for me as it said it was unable to find a location to install to. And after loading the installation files I was forced to restart and try again.

I did find these great instructions that guided me through the process in a lot less time then it would have taken to run through the standard installation. I used Method #2 with WinImage and the whole thing took under 10 minutes.

I stuck the USB stick into the PC and it booted right into ESXi, obtained an IP address, and I was able to download/install the VI Client to manage the server very easily. The VI Client is very overwhelming at first but once you understand its layout it becomes manageable.

WHS on VMWare Server 2.0 with a Windows 7 host

After trying Virtual Server 2005R2 I decided to try VMWare Server 2.0, another free solution.  After a quick Windows 7 reformat (to completely wipe the Virtual Server modifications/workarounds), the installation of VMWare Server went without a hitch. I had a 100Gb partition for Windows 7 and then the rest of the 1Tb drive was broken into another partiotn where I stored the WHS virtual hard drive (not pre-allocated, equal to the remaining space). Later on a second 1Tb hard drive was put in the machine and I created a second virtual hard drive equal to the size of the drive.

With WHS it is important to make the virtual hard drives equal to the entire size of the disk so that you do not have 2 virtual hard drives running on the same spindle. That is because when you enable duplication in WHS, it makes sure that the files are not stored on the same spindle and takes away the task of manually managing storage. However, if you have 2 virtual hard drives on the same spindle and that drive fails, you can potentially lose data that you thought was successfully duplicated on another physical hard drive.

I have been running Windows Home Server (WHS) in VMWare Server for close to a month with fairly good results. I am able to record live TV with Windows Media Center and have it transfered and archived onto the WHS. WHS has been successfully performing nightly backups of my primary desktop, laptop, and host machine. However, the one major issue I am having is with the transfer speeds.

I initially was on a 100 megabit network but my transfer speeds between the WHS and other PCs was usually under a measly 1MB/s. After some troubleshooting and suggestions I looked into disabling TCP Offload which has seemed to work for others, but did not make much of a difference for me. I found a good deal on a gigabit switch and figured I might as well try increasing the availiable bandwidth (although 1MB/s is not being restricted by a 100 megabit network).

I do not know why, but after installing the gigabit switch I saw a speed increase to a range of 8-15MB/s. But this was still much slower than expected. Perhaps these transfer speeds are severely limited since I am running a full blown host os and WHS on the same hard drive (not a raid array).

One realization that came up while using VMWare server was that all my precious data is stored in these large (~1Tb) virtual hard drive files (vmdk). If anything happens to the host machine and I needed to retrieve the files I would first have to set up a new host, virtual machine, installation of WHS, etc. Meanwhile one of the features that WHS offers is that all of the files are stored in standard format and the hard drives can be plugged into another computer to retrieve the files. So to me, locking all of my files in these virtual disk “coffins” and manually trying to manage the placement of these virtual disk files seemed to go against some of the main advantages of WHS. Additionally, the scary thought that my data has 2x the chance of being lost since the VMDK file could  get corrupted OR a spindle could die.

Both the slow transfer speeds and the disadvantages of virtual hard disks in WHS pushed me towards looking for another solution.