HomeLab: Installation and Configuration

Hey All!
If you saw my previous post, I identified components that would make a pretty decent beginning to a home lab.
I made those purchases via Amazon, and assembled the components. Luckily everything worked fantastically out of the box – I was secretly worried that my lack of recent computer building experience would bite me when it came to assembly: it seems that building computers is an awful lot like riding a bike in that regard.

Alright. So now we have two black boxes that power on and display the friendly message:
Operating System Not found.

Now what?

Note: I assume everyone reading this blog is a VMware vExpert and Microsoft MVP and get licensing that way. Otherwise, license VMware and Microsoft products as you normally would. Both also offer trial periods of their software. 

  1. Install ESXi on our new hosts:
    The decision was made to use USB flash for ESXi and dedicate the internal drives to running VMs, so the time has come to mess with the USB Flash drive.We don’t have any internal optical drives in our set-up, nor did I have any externals readily available. Turns out we can do this entirely without wasting a disk!

    1. Download RUFUS Windows utility. RUFUS = Reliable USB Formatting Utility (with Source)
      Similar tools exist for other Operating Systems. For what it’s worth, I ran RUFUS on a Windows VM on my Mac. 
    2. Download ESXi ISO from VMware Download page.
    3. Load the ISO into RUFUS.
    4. Replace Menu.C when prompted by RUFUS.
    5. Click ‘Close’ when complete.
    6. Boot ESXi Host using USB key (You may need to modify boot order for this step)
    7. When ESXi installer loads, perform a normal ESXI installation. Install to USB Flash (This will wipe out the installer ISO)
    8. When complete, you have a working ESXi system. Hooray! In my case I did this to both boxes.
  2. Configure a management network on each host
  3. Use the vSphere client to connect directly to a host
  4. Create a new VM for vCenter
    1. Mount your Windows Server ISO in your new vCenter VM
    2. Configure machine to VMware best practices (You can probably get by with less for this sized environment)
    3. Install Windows
    4. Mount the vCenter installation media (From VMware’s Downloads page)
    5. Perform a simple install of vCenter
  5. Create a new VM for Active Directory
    1. Mount your Windows Server ISO in your new AD DC VM
    2. Follow this tutorial

This is the very beginning of the home lab. In future posts, I’ll detail the AD Configuration and other Lab related things!


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