Building My Lab Environment – Part II: Installing vSphere 5

So after putting together all the hardware that I listed in Building My Lab Environment – Part I: The Hardware, it’s time to install vSphere 5.

BIOS settings

As far as the BIOS goes, there was only three things I changed from the defaults.

  • I set the CD-ROM to be the first boot device
  • Set the system time and date to current
  • Enabled VT-D – This allows virtual machines direct access to hardware. For instance I have three physical hard drives. One of them controlled by vSphere and setup as a datastore. I could then create an OpenFiler virtual machine that connected directly to and managed the remaining two physical hard drives. Then I could create LUNs and add those back to the vSphere server as iSCSI datastores. It’s a bit convoluted, but this would allow all the tinkering and benefits of a SAN, without the extra physical server. The physical drives are still there, it’s just the OS that is managing them is virtual.

VMware has a “Performance Best Practices for VMware vSphere 5.0” document that goes into great detail on things like BIOS settings, virtual machine configurations and more. You can find it on their site here.

Now on to the installation.

Installing vSphere 5

After fixing an issue where I burned an unbootable vSphere 5 install disk, I put the new CD in and booted up. There was a lot of trepidation as I watched the installer load into memory. My worst fear would be some kind of unsupported hardware issue. Luckily my fears were unfounded and everything installed without a hitch.

As I couldn’t really take screenshots while installing on real hardware, I decided to create a virtual machine afterwards to show the changes I made. There is not a whole lot of configuration changes that I needed to do as this is a single server vSphere lab. You can find information on more complex scenarios involving multiple vSphere hosts, datastores on iSCSI LUNs (that I will cover when I buy my NAS), virtual distributed switches, etc. online. I also recommend reading “Mastering VMware vSphere 4” by Scott Lowe if you are new to vSphere like I am. I will definitely be picking up a copy later this month when he releases a new edition covering vSphere 5. But, moving on.

Upon booting up you will get the ESXi-5 Boot Menu that will start the installer.
vsphere install 01

After starting, it will begin the process of loading everything into memory and you will be presented with yet another place to press Enter.
vsphere install 02

Following your confirmation that you want to install, you will be asked to accept the EULA.
vsphere install 03

After reading it all (you did read it right?) and accepting you will be asked to select which hard drive to install vSphere on. As this is just a VM for screenshot purpose, I just gave it a little 8GB drive. You can, if you so choose, install vSphere on a USB stick and provide iSCSI LUNs to store your virtual machines. Technologies such as vMotion require that the virtual machines be stored on some form of shared storage for how they operate.
vsphere install 04

Once your installation drive is selected you’ll be asked to select a keyboard layout, create the root (administrator for us non *nix guys) password, and confirm you want to install and overwrite the hard disk.
vsphere install 05

vsphere install 06

vsphere install 07

After the install is complete and you press Enter to reboot, vSphere will load and you will be presented this standard display. Not much can be done from this screen in regards to virtual machines. This screens main purpose is setting some important system configuration items like networking. Pressing F2 will prompt you to login to configure the system.
vsphere install 08

Once you have logged in, you will be at the System Customization screen.
vsphere install 09

From here I went into “Configure Management Network” to set the IP address of the NIC so that I could access it via the vSphere client installed on my desktop.
vsphere install 10

Within the “Configure Management Network”, I selected “IP Configuration” and “DNS Configuration” and set these properties to allow them access to my physical network.
vsphere install 11
vsphere install 12

Once the IP settings are set and you Esc out to the “System Customization” screen, you will be prompted to apply the changes and restart the management network.
vsphere install 13


You have now installed and configured vSphere 5 to allow access through the vSphere client application. From there you can configure vSwitches, datastores, and create virtual machines.

Stay tuned for my next entry on how I configured vSphere 5 to meet the needs of my development plans.

Series Posts


Posted on October 9, 2011, in Lab, vSphere. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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