For quite some time, the blog has been running as an Ubuntu VM running in VMware Server on Windows Server 2008. If you said “yuck!” – you’re right. It is a decidedly 2009 setup that I wanted to update before a rapidly developing new Juchems makes working on projects like this a luxury.
Moving to VMware ESXi means that I will necessarily have the VMs running much closer to the hardware for better performance, and the most recent release has good support for many newer operating systems as VMs. It will also be quite “headless” – no monitor, keyboard or mouse needed for 99.99% of the life of the server.
Perhaps the nicest part of using VMware Server vs ESXi was that it was an “all in one” solution where I could work on VMs etc without installing anything on the rest of my computers. The downside was that it wasn’t particularly speedy, updated for newer operating systems and had one too many levels of “stuff”; VM/VMware Server/Windows OS versus the new VM/ESXi setup.
The “Old” hardware:
AMD 5400+ x2 (2.8Ghz dual core)
8GB DDR2 800 Mhz (4x2GB)
Gigabyte nVidia 430 Chipset ATX motherboard
160GB Seagate 7200.9 (160 GB Western Digital Raptor died a year ago or so…)
Onboard video & LAN
The “New” hardware:
Core i3 2100 (3.1ghz dual core + hyper threading)
8GB DDR3 1333 Mhz (2x4GB)
Gigabyte H61 mATX motherboard
250GB Samsung Spinpoint (will be joined by a 750GB Western Digital Green shortly)
On-CPU video/Intel Pro 1000 NIC
The old case, Seasonic 330W power supply and fan setup was kept as-is.
Having ESXi 4.1U1 install without much issue was quite a relief. The onboard nic was not detected with the built the default ESXi driver set, but the Intel nic was obviously picked up without any hassle.
I think that 8GB is a sweet spot with a dual core processor. More RAM and I would have felt an urge to go with a quad core – and spend more money. The motherboard only has two ram slots so I am safe from that temptation. I think that I’ll be able to run about ten vms on this guy, what they would all even be I can’t imagine right now. Five with good performance will meet my needs for the foreseeable future.
I copied the VMs first locally to my main workstation and then tried to simply upload them to the ESXi server. This resulted in a scsi error when I tried to power them on – failure. The next step was using ESX Standalone Converter to change the VMs from “workstation” to “server” VMs and I have to say that this tool from VMware works great in that regard.
The Ubuntu VM was stubborn in the fact that eth0 had the static IP configured but the new network card was known as eth1 so the blog was down for an additional ~20 minutes while I sorted that out. The Server 2008 R2 VM moved over easy peasy but needed a VMware tools update.
All in all I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went. TeamJuchems is now hosted on a completely modern hosting platform that should offer plenty of performance for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for posting this, I’ve been itching to build a cheap i3 system to play around with and it’s good to know that the H61 chipset can work NIC excepted.