Matt Pson Just another dead sysadmin blog


Getting that VMware home lab

So for quite some time I have wanted a small home lab in order to try out some tricks that I read about on the internet that isn't, in lack of another work, inappropriate to do at work (no, nothing naughty!). I also have like 4-5 USB harddrives scattered around with various stuff on them (media, backups etc.).

My solution arrived a couple of days ago, the HP Microserver. It's a small, not massively powerful server that after some research seemed perfect to have at home.

It came with a AMD Turion II dual-core CPU /1,5GHz), 2GB RAM and a 250GB disk. It also have some kind of simple RAID card from what I could determine, not that it mattered for me. My box did not have the DVD displayed in the pictore to the right. Best of all? This thing runs VMware ESXi 5.0 without a hitch.

But the initial configuration is a little lacklustre for my needs so I took the 250GB disk and put it where the DVD would normally be (took some powerconverter adapter, a SATA cable and some cable ties to secure the disk safely), upgraded the RAM to 8GB (2x4GB sticks) and finally installed 4 x 2TB disks to be used as a replacement for all those random external disks I had. To top it all I installed VMware ESXi 5.0 on a 4GB nano USB stick using the 250GB disk as datastore. Now the server boots up into ESXi nicely and can work as my home lab as well as my mediaserver at the same time.

Now it's when it turns nerdy 🙂

I made a VM on the 250GB datastore which uses the 4 2TB disks with RDM (Raw Device Mapping). Installed my favourite Linux distribution, set up a raid5 using mdadm, formatted the array as a 5.5TB disk and installed Samba on it. Shared the disk on my home network and suddenly I had something to copy all my data to. In retrospect it would have been more fun/useful to have used the "Sun ZFS Storage" appliance maybe as that is a system which I find rather solid and an awesome product when the hardware or the company selling it (read: Oracle) isn't handicapping it.

Anyway, I have a home lab again! /happy