This will be a series of posts in which I describe how I have put together my Home Lab ESXi server.
Since the motherboard in my server supports Intel vPro, I can use the remote console feature to perform the installation and mount the VMware ESXi installer ISO remotely. The remote console feature requires RealVNC Plus, which will work in trial mode for 30 days, after which you need to purchase a licence.
The first step in setting up vPro is configuring the network address. This is done from within the system bios. Further configuration can then be done from the browser by going to the URL http://<IP Address>:16992. You will need to enter the username (admin) and the password (set in the bios) to login.
Further vPro configuration can be done by downloading the Intel Open Manageability Toolkit at http://opentools.homeip.net/open-manageability. The Manageability Commander Tool can be used to configure remote control as well as initiate a remote control session. Be aware that only basic Serial over LAN is provided. Remote control still requires the use of an AMT compatible VNC client.
Connecting to the remote console
Power on the server. I found it is best NOT to power on the server from the console as this prevents the NICs from switching to gigabit speed. They remain on 10mbit to keep the console connection up.
Start RealVNC Plus. Enter the vPro interface IP address and select Intel AMT from the drop down list. You will most likely see the “no boot media” bios error. You can now mount the ESXi iso.
Installing ESXi is pretty straight forward. Just follow the prompts. The installer will automatically set up the destination disk and will reboot when it is complete.
Initial ESXi Configuration
You will be presented with a yellow and black screen with the ESXi version information. This is the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI). From here you can login as root (password is set during installation) and configure basic settings such as management network adapters. Select the adapter you want to use for the management interface. This will be the IP address used to connect the vSphere client to the host.
In Part 4 I will go over how I configured storage for the server, using a VM with a SAS HBA directly connected.