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Im very new to the whole virtualization thing. I have a server that I can learn on, its Dell PowerEdge R710. I tried to install ESXi 5.5 on it.

I booted from my CD with ESXi 5.5 I downloaded from VMware, and had some doubts where should I install the ESXi. I had two options to choose:

  1. Local: Single Flash Reader (972 MiB)
  2. Remote: Dell Virtual Disk (136.12 GiB)

and I wasnt sure where to install ESXi. I decided to install it on Dell Virtual Disk, and did it. But then, I watched a video on YouTube ( where the author said that we need to install ESXi on a flash card.

So I did it wrong, right? What do I need to do to remove ESXi from Dell Virtual Disk (just clean it al, make it "empty", format it or something?) and install ESXi on a Flash Reader?

Or maybe I did the right thing? Cheers

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@RobM: Thanks for the answer! I'm learning but I need to do it good from the start ;) because in a near future I need to do something more with ESXi and would like to know what is the better approach. I was thinking about removing all the partitions ESXi created with Ubuntu Live CD (and GParted shipped with it - will it even work?). Also, I dont really understand the difference between 'local' and 'remote' locations/disks - I mean, both 'Single Flash Reader' and 'Dell Virtual Disk' are physical devices in my server Im working with, right? So why call them local and remote? – nullpointer Nov 23 '13 at 10:33
sorry, I moved my comment here into an answer below, I'll edit it to address your additional questions. – RobM Nov 23 '13 at 10:34

2 Answers 2

I disagree with the other answer here. The best/better practice for ESXi installations is:

  • For standalone ESXi hosts (not in a vSphere cluster): Use local storage to leverage your server's hardware RAID array. If your array controller has the ability to separate logical drives, carve a small volume (4GB->16GB) for ESXi to live on and use the remainder for your VMFS volumes that hold virtual machines. Otherwise, the ESXi installer will partition a single logical volume reasonably.

  • For ESXi hosts in a cluster (with SAN/NAS shared-storage): It's safe to use SD/SDHC/USB boot for your ESXi installation, as the system will install in embedded mode, which allows the host to continue running in the event of media failure.

Please see: What happens when the USB key or SD card I've installed VMware ESXi on fails?

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Good point @ewwhite though I thought (and your other question and answer imply) that the install mode was down to the type and size of the install target, so installing on a smaller SD card still gave you embedded mode, which you can recover from in the event of a problem. – RobM Nov 23 '13 at 15:05
@RobM That hinges on the presence of a SAN/NAS and VMs located on shared storage. Embedded mode + shared storage means you can vMotion your virtual machines off of the host with failed media and repair at your leisure. – ewwhite Nov 23 '13 at 15:17
Fair point. I've only ever run ESX and HyperV as clusters, so I guess I take that for granted. – RobM Nov 23 '13 at 15:30
Huh, so I guess I should remove ESXi completly, make a tiny (5GB partition) and install ESXi again on it? ( I mean a partition on 'Dell Virtual Disk'). I will ask again: how about RAID array? I found this doc:… so I assume that when I remove (with GParted) ESXi I installed on 'Dell Virtual Disk' it wont affect the RAID array, right? Thanks!:) – nullpointer Nov 23 '13 at 19:26

You don't need to install ESXi to any one place or another. If it supports booting from a particular media type or location then it's ok to install it to that location. ESXi is quite particular about only booting and working properly with supported hardware (as per its HCL) used in supported configurations; if it doesn't like something you're trying to do, it will be sure to let you know...

Having said that, if my choices included a local install on a flash card then I'd always do that for simplicity's sake on a production server. One less complication to troubleshoot if you have any problems and just need to get the damn production network going again at 3am in the morning while your boss is yelling down the phone at you, you know?

Edit... As for your comment about the storage types, my apologies - when I saw 'Dell Virtual Disk' I was thinking of the volumes that get created by a Dell SAN, but if its local disks then that's going to be a RAID array created by a PERC raid controller I'd imagine. If both these locations are local storage then there's even less reason to worry in terms of 'will it work...?'

As for best practice - if you're likely to be building small 'single server' virtual servers then it makes sense to reserve the local hard disk storage, the virtual disk, as a container for the virtual guests themselves and install ESXi onto a flash card. It keeps things tidy and ensures you can easily upgrade ESXi (some upgrades in the past have required changes to the disk layout) without having to touch the disks holding the virtual machines, which makes a certain amount of sense as I'm sure you can imagine.

Deleting the ESXi install partitons with a Ubuntu Live CD will be just fine, by the way. While ESXi isn't a Linux clone, it handles disk partitions in a standard enough method to allow you to inspect and delete them like this.

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Thanks again, it explains a lot but I have few more questions. Yeah, I think they're physical on my server because the server is connected only to my keyboard and a monitor (no network cables attached to it). When I use GParted to completly remove ESXi from 'Dell Virtual Disk' wont it affect a RAID array? I mean, wont it break an RAID array when I remove partitions that ESXi created (I guess I can do it as I do it with Ubuntu, simply 'Delete' partitions and save changes I made)? – nullpointer Nov 23 '13 at 10:51
Assuming I'm correct about the RAID array being a hardware raid created in a PERC, then provided your ubuntu box can see the virtual disk and lets you mount that as a device in itself, rather than just seeing the individual disks that make up the array (am I making sense?) any operations you carry out on partitions inside the array container will not affect the configuration of the raid array, just the logical partitions you've created inside it. – RobM Nov 23 '13 at 12:49

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