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VMWare ESXi fails to install

Posted on 2010-08-14
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I'm trying to install VMWare ESXi on one of our servers.  I noticed something weird, when I went to select the drive to install VMWare to, it showed all three of my harddrives seperate.  They are set in a Raid5 pattern, so it should show them together....  Once I selected just one drive and continued, it started to install the files, and now it says "Installation operation Failed!  The installation operation has encountered a fatal error:  Unable to write image to the selected Disk.  This may be caused by bad sectors on the device or another hardware problem.  The following system information will assist the VMware Support team with your problem.  Please record this information before proceeding.  

System Information:
Manufacturer: Supermicro
Model: PDSML
Service Tag: 0123456789
BIOS Rev: Phoenix Technologies LTD
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Question by:cmb991
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by:scarybot
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On your system, is the RAID configured through the hardware disk controller? If not, it needs to be ... If so, check to make sure that the controller BIOS is set to present the array as one logical disk. Sometimes it's possible to have the three drives presented individually to 'raid-aware' operating systems.
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by:cmb991
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I set them into a Raid 5 patter in the hardware disk controller.  In the BIOS, it shows each drive individually on the main page as SATA Port 1, SATA Port 2, SATA Port 3; All 500GB each.
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by:cmb991
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Parallel ATA = Enabled, Serial ATA =Enabled, SATA Controller Mode = Enchanced, SATA AID = Enabled, ICH Radi CodeBase = Intel.
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by:cmb991
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Okay, so I switched the ICH Raid Code Base to Adaptec.  Now I'm setting up the array, but it seems it will only let me do RAID 0...
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by:cmb991
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Maybe its my Intel Matrix Storage Manager... Thats my hardware controller.  I'm using Intel Matrix Storage Manager option ROM v5.6.2.1002 ICH7R wRAID5.  
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by:jakethecatuk
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You're hardware isn't on the VMware HCL.

Intel ICH7R isn't a RAID controller as such as it requires software to be installed to function correctly.  With that controller, all you will get is individual drives on VMware.

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php
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by:cmb991
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Ah, so how would I go about setting up a RAID 5 then?
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by:jakethecatuk
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You want RAID 5 - then you will have to buy a supported RAID controller and use that.

There are plenty of cheap and supported RAID cards listed in the HCL.
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by:cmb991
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Okay, I'm just going to use RAID 1 on the first two harddrives and use RAID 0 on the third harddrive.  Thanks!
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by:cmb991
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Oh wait, I can't do that because the RAID controller isn't supported... Can I just switch everything to RAID 0 and use that or it still won't work because of the AID Controller?  What about using Adaptec?
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by:jakethecatuk
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Your controller isn't on the HCL.

All you can do is use three disks as three VMFS volumes.  You will not have any RAID functionallity.
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by:cmb991
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Okay so if I turn off SATA RAID in the BIOS, then it will work?
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by:jakethecatuk
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You can try that, but there are no guarantees that it will work.

You may have to boot of a USB key to see the drives as the boot process is a bit fussy over the hard disk controller.
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by:cmb991
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I turned SATA RAID off and I'm still having the same issue..
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by:jakethecatuk
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As I said, try installing ESXi onto a USB stick and boot off that.  See if you can see your disks that way.
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by:cmb991
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I can't get the serve to boot off a USB Thumbdrive.  When I put the thumbdrive in and turn on the server, it freezes at the bios screen.  I've always had that problem with this server.  Any other ideas?
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by:siht
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ESXi is pretty fussy about what hardware it will work with, especially concerning storage controllers as you have found out.

Is your server motherboard and processor on the official Hardware Compatibility list?

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php

or one of the unofficial ones?

http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/esx40_whitebox_HCL.php

If your motherboard and processor are known to work then your best bet is probably to get an add in RAID card that is supported and run your RAID from that. You'll ant to make sure your NIC's will work with ESXi too.

You won't get any RAID functionality with any INtel ICHx RAID and ESXi, it will just see a bunch of separate disks as you have found out.
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by:cmb991
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Intel Xeon X3220 Quad Core Processor and Supermicro PDSML-LN2 Motherboard.  I can't seem to get the vmware compatibility search to work right.. can you check these for me?
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by:cmb991
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I don't see the motherboard listed on the unofficial.  I don't see a spot where processors are on the unofficial either.
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by:jakethecatuk
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Your machine is not on the supported list.  

You will struggle to get this to work using the built in RAID controller and more than likely the built in NIC.

The fact that you can't boot off USB is not good either.

If you are able to get hold of a cheap supported RAID card, you should be able to boot from your disks.  Failing that, give up and use a different server or install HYPER-V instead.

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by:cmb991
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http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=C122-4890

That is the server I'm trying to use.  I currently use Hyper-V but I'm tired of windows taking up 3GB of Ram just for the 2008 OS.  I guess if I can't get it to work, I could use the Core version.. Is there anything else on that hardware spec sheet that isn't support?
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by:cmb991
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I found a few hard drive controllers I could purchase.. http://www.newegg.com/store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=410&Tpk=Hard%20Drive%20Controller

I'm not sure which ones would work.
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by:siht
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It may be better to find RAID controllers which are on the HCL and then finding out where they are available, the list of what is not supported could be longer thant the list of what is.

If your system isn't on either the official or the unofficial HCLs then either no one has tried to get it to work or it doesn't work.

If you want to pursue this it is likley to give you trouble but you'll get to do some learning. Find a cheap supported RAID card so that you can do the install and take it from there. As jakehthecatuk said it's likley that you'll need to add supported NICs as well.

Keep in mind, especially if this is a production system, that if your hardware is unsupported you'll get no support and there are no guarantees on stability or performance.

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by:cmb991
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Okay.  Just double checking, this is what I should be searching for, correct? http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?action=search&deviceCategory=server&productId=1&advancedORbasic=advanced&maxDisplayRows=1000000&key=Cybertron&release[]=24&datePosted=-1&partnerId[]=-1&formFactorId[]=-1&cpuSeriesId[]=-1&filterByEVC=1&cpuSeriesEVCModeId[]=-1&filterByFT=0&min_sockets=&min_cores=&min_memory=1&rorre=0
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by:cmb991
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I wonder if my hardware is supported with Virtualbox.  That could be an option, because I'm not replacing that whole server because VMWare isn't supported.
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by:jakethecatuk
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You can look at various virtual options, VirtualBox, Xenserver, VirtualIron etc.  Some of them may work, some won't.  If you want RAID, then you may struggle unles the OS supports the Intel chipset.

The stripped down version of Hyper-V may be an option as it has a much smaller footprint that traditional 2008 with Hyper-V.
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by:cmb991
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Whats the "stripped down" version?  Core x64 2008 w/ hyper-v?
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jakethecatuk earned 500 total points
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Nope - it's more stripped down than that!

http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx


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by:cmb991
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Oh, I didn't know there was  Hyper-V Server 2008, without Server 2008 built-in.  Hmm, and its free; I might have to look into that.
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by:jakethecatuk
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Remember - it is still based on Server 2008 R2 but with a lot of stuff stripped out.
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by:cmb991
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Right so instead of it taking of 2.39gb of RAM to operate, it will probably only take about 1 for the server side.  The problem I'm having is this server is only has 8GB of RAM which is maxed out for the motherboard.  So I don't want to have to purchase another one, that is why I was looking for something that will run lower than what our current 2008 Server Standard edition takes up (2.39gb RAM).  So if the Hyper-V Server Edition only uses 1GB, then the 7 Virtual Sessions I'm going to need to make will be fine allocated at 768MB each.
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by:jakethecatuk
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I don't know how much RAM is taken by the default install, but it will be a lot less the 2008 Standard.

So, your thinking is correct and you should be able to do what you want.
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by:cmb991
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Okay, Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 it is.  Thanks!
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