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install esxi free on desktop PC?

Posted on 2016-07-20
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I don't see my PC on compatibility list... is there still a  good chance it will work?

I have this...
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NHR1U2/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Except I upped it to 16GB ram and added a 240GB SSD.  If I install esxi I would probably get a 32GB USB drive to install ESXI on.

Any/or is there a way to run VM's directly under windows that might be easier?  It would be nice to keep my windows install on that machine without having to do a P2V conversion.
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Question by:Xetroximyn
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 1000 total points
ID: 41721744
If it sees the storage I would say yes, there's a good chance it will work.

However, you don't appear to understand what ESXi is - it's a bare metal hypervisor.  Once installed, you remove the keyboard mouse and monitor as they will be NEARLY useless - you have to manage it remotely.

If you want to run VMs, I would suggest you upgrade your computer to Windows 10 (or 8.1) Pro - that includes Client Hyper-V which is also a type 1 hypervisor and you can continue to use Windows while running VMs when you want to.

There are other Virtualization solutions, including VMWare Player/Workstation and Virtual Box (and others).  You can try them too if you don't want to upgrade to Windows Pro - Pro is required for Client Hyper-V which is a feature/role included with it.
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by:Xetroximyn
ID: 41721762
If it sees the storage I would say yes, there's a good chance it will work.
Thanks! Will I see that during install? (i.e. will I be able to tell if it will probably work before making changes to system?)

So you don't think RAM/CPU/Motherboard are much of a concern?  It's mostly just if it can see the storage?


BTW - I understand what esxi is... :-) I've spent the last month configuring esxi on a dell 730xd :-)  (also set up vcenter)  

That's all in a supported business environment.... but it got me curious about re-purposing my old desktop as an ESXI server.... just what to see if it will likely work...  I already have my old PC as a keyboardless/monitorless machine just accessed remotely from time to time.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1000 total points
ID: 41721780
Biggest issue with unsupported hardware is the storage controller and network interface.

Make sure Intel-VT is enabled in the BIOS and CPU.

OR....

install VMware Player or VMware Workstation, and install ESXi in a VM.

see here

HOW TO: Set up a lab environment for vSAN using VMware Workstation

We all use VMware Player/Workstation to create ESXi Labs.

Also remember that ANY VM you create on VMware Workstation, Player, WILL NEED to be converted to ESXi.

You could use Client Hyper-V on Windows 8.0 Pro or later, and convert using VMware Converter, to ESXi/vCenter Server.

If you want native under Windows for a Lab, created a Nested ESXi VM, which is readily supported  by VMware Player or Workstation.

BTW - I understand what esxi is... :-) I've spent the last month configuring esxi on a dell 730xd :-)  (also set up vcenter)  

:-O!!!!
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by:rindi
ID: 41721842
You would install ESXi to a USB stick or SD card. That way the installation won't change anything within the system. Only after you have booted from that installed versions and you setup your datastore will any changes be written to the PC's disk.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 41721985
Forgot about the network adapter (and shouldn't it caused me a nightmare just over a year ago - Hyper-V is SO MUCH EASIER since you can actually load drivers!)

Yes, I'm NOT a VMWare fan.
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LVL 124
ID: 41721992
@Lee W, MVP

Yes, I'm NOT a VMWare fan.

Not everyone is perfect!

You can load drivers and compile drivers for ESXi, if there not in the build of HCL, it's just not for Beginners, and covered in my Expert 'Geek' Course!
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Author Comment

by:Xetroximyn
ID: 41723287
Make sure Intel-VT is enabled in the BIOS and CPU.
Are these separate things?  I.e. if enabled in bios do I need to further enable in CPU?
Looking at my system does it seem modern enough that it will almost definitely have this feature?  

install VMware Player or VMware Workstation, and install ESXi in a VM.
Running esxi in a VM.... never thought of that... somehow I'm reminded of Inception..... :-)

Do player/workstation have free versions?  And so this is something I would run on windows and then have my ESXI server in there and then run VM's in there.... With so many layers of abstraction do you lose a lot of performance or surprisingly little?  

I might just upgrade windows to pro to get hyper-v.... how does hyper-v perform?  Is it pretty decent if the windows PC is not being actively used?
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LVL 124
ID: 41723323
Are these separate things?  I.e. if enabled in bios do I need to further enable in CPU?
Looking at my system does it seem modern enough that it will almost definitely have this feature?  

Just check your CPU supports Intel-VT, and ensure it's enabled in the BIOS. Nothing to do with CPU per se.

i7 supports Intel-VT, you may need to enable in BIOS.

Do player/workstation have free versions?  And so this is something I would run on windows and then have my ESXI server in there and then run VM's in there.... With so many layers of abstraction do you lose a lot of performance or surprisingly little?  

VMware Workstation is a paid for software product, 60 day evaluations available.

VMware Player is FREE for non-commercial use.

You do lose some performance, but an Intel i7 3.4GHz has lots of grunt.

But, this keeps the VMs, the same, no conversion required, just upload them from datastore to datastore.

Hyper-V is a Type 1 Hypervisor, so will perform better on the bare metal.

But, conversion would be required between ESXi --> Hyper V, and Hyper-V to ESXi.
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