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VCAP-DCA Study notes – 9.1 Installing ESX with custom settings

While the blueprint only refers to installing ESX (not ESXi) I’ve covered both in anticipation of the VCAP-DCA labs going to 4.1.

When to use a customised installation

There are plenty of reasons to use some advanced installations;

  • Your hardware isn’t supported in the ‘out of the box’ setup so you need custom drivers
  • You want to streamline the deployment process by building a custom install CD, including some post configuration steps, or utilising PXE boot etc
  • You want to gain maximum performance from every host, which means performance and configuration tweaks (vmKernel parameters, service console memory settings etc)

Installing ESX/ESXi

  • Interactive installations can be done via the GUI or text mode.
  • The installer can be located on CD/DVD, USB flash or via a PXE boot. While PXE is typically used for scripted builds it can be used as a source of installation files for an interactive build.
  • Scripted methods (PXE boot using HTTP, FTP, NFS are covered in section 9.2.
    NOTE: Scripted installs of ESXi were only added to v4.1 – prior to that only ESX classic could be scripted.
  • To install a virtual ESX host on ESX (for lab testing) you need some specific configuration tweaks – see the article at vCritical for full details.
  • For 64 bit guests you must have a 64 bit chip with Intel-VT support enabled or an AMD chip of revision E or later. Wikipaedia has details and you can check using VMware’s CPU Identification Utility. You cannot run nested 64 bit VMs.
  • Boot from SAN is now supported for ESXi (4.1 onwards). This includes iSCSI and FCoE for a limited set of supported adapters.
  • Both ESX and ESXi v4.0 will erase all local partitions by default, including existing ESX installs and VMFS partitions (if you’re upgrading an older ESX version for example).

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