Wednesday, February 10, 2016

vSphere 6 - Create datastore and prepare guest OS installation

Now that we have added an ESXi host to vCenter (see my previous blog post), we are almost ready to install our first guest operating system (OS). But first, we need configure a datastore to house the virtual machines and other files, either on the ESXi host itself or on shared storage.

Datastore configuration

In fact, there is, by default, a datastore on each ESXi host named "DataStore". However, if we will have multiple ESXi hosts, centrally managed by vCenter, they cannot all be named "DataStore". I have renamed the datastore on host ESX1 "ESX1-Datastore" (right-click on the datastore and select "rename" in the menu).

Note: the datastore resides under the Datacenter.

If we look at the "Related Objects" tab, we can see the host that holds the datastore as well as the guests and templates located in this datastore (once we create them).

And if we look at the "Manage" tab (Files section) we can see the file structure of the datastore. I will create my virtual machines using a .iso file and want to store the .iso files for OS installation in a separate folder. So I click on the folder with the green plus sign and name the new folder:

Next, I highlight the new ISO_files folder and select the "Upload a file to the datastore" icon. I will be prompted to install the "File Integration Plug-in" that will allow me to upload files to the ESXi host from the vCenter server...

So I download the plug-in...

execute the file...

and accept any security prompts related to the plug-in:

I can now browse to the location of my .iso file and upload it to the ESXi datastore.

I can rename, move, copy or delete the file as needed:

Installation of the guest OS

Note: the installation of the guest OS will vary greatly based on the OS selected. I will concentrate on the configuration of the guest OS settings in vCenter rather than on step-by-step instructions for a particular OS (that would be quite useless for a different OS).

We highlight the Datacenter, right-click and select "New Virtual Machine".

Note: click Next as necessary.

Select the option "Create a new virtual machine":

Note: you can click to enlarge the images.

I will name my virtual machine "Lubuntu-1" and place it directly in the "HQ" Datacenter. For better organization, we can create folders under the Datacenter object, sorting the VMs by operating system or by function (web servers, database servers, etc.):

Note: Lubuntu is a Linux distribution with a reputation of low resource use and that I believe may be appropriate for exploring the features of vSphere in a lab where vCenter and ESXi are already using 8 GB and 4 GB respectively for a total of 12 GB.

I will select ESX1 for the host (or the "compute resource"):

I will use my ESX1-Datastore to house the new virtual machine:

The next setting is important if we have legacy ESXi hosts running older versions such as 4.x, 5.1 and 5.5, and on which we might have to move the virtual machine. In my current test environment, I have a single ESXi 6 host so I can chose the following setting:

Earlier, I stated that I would use a Linux distribution for the guest OS. Lubuntu is a variant of the Ubuntu "distro", so I'll select Linux and then Ubuntu Linux (32 bit):

We have almost finished. If we prefer, we can customize the hardware by increasing the number of CPUs, the amount of memory or the size of the (virtual) hard disk:

Our choices are summarized on the last page:

There is one setting that we must change if we intend to install the OS with a .iso file. We right-click on the virtual machine and select "Edit Settings":

For the CD/DVD drive, we select "Datastore ISO file" instead of the default "Client Device":

We then browse to the location of the .iso file in the Datastore:

To power on the guest, we highlight it and then click on the green arrow as shown below:

In this case, clicking on the green arrow would start the installation process.


I will not present the installation of Lubuntu here since that is not particuarly useful, in itself, for understanding how to manage vCenter. Obviously, the installation steps and choices would be completely different for other operating systems (and slightly different for other Ubuntu variants).

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