Using VMWare ESX 3.0 in a SATA drive environment

About a year ago I wanted to setup a VMWare ESX 3.0 server to test out their new (at the time) release, unfortunately, I didn’t have the funds needed to setup a true production environment with it. I was able to find a fantastic alternative that is great to learn off of at a much more cost effective price point. It seems that the LSI Logic driver included is compatible with scsi and sata controllers, which is great news for us small folks wanting to check out this virtualization environment.

I won’t get into the details of a step by step setup installation but will jump ahead to the post installation changes needed. I’m probably going to miss or incorrectly state a technical term here or there but if there are any corrections needed or questions let me know.

The hardware (least the parts that matter for this writeup) I ended up using is as follows:
Motherboard: Tyan Transport GX28 (B2881)
Controller: LSI MegaRaid
Hard Drives: Seagate 320GB SATA 2

Keep in mind that the installation of ESX can be on any drive, including IDE, the datastores are what need to be on a supported device such as SAN, iSCSI, etc, or in this case a budget SATA setup. After the initial installation is complete you’ll need to check on and modify a file. It took some rummaging around at the time and after some good old trial and error along with a couple installations I was able to narrow it down to the following steps.

#cat /etc/modules.conf

alias eth0 e100
alias eth1 tg3
alias eth2 tg3
alias scsi_hostadapter megaraid2
alias usb-controller usb-ohci

From the above lines I think I did this to either check that “alias scsi_hostadapter megaraid2″ was there or I added it in.

#lspci | grep LSI

020:0e.0 RAID bus controller: LSI Logic / Symbios Logic: Unknown device 0409 (rev 0a)

This is to find out what the device number is for the controller, in this case it is “0409″.

#cat /etc/vmware/ | grep LSI

vendor ,0x1000,Symbios,LSI Logic / Symbios Logic
device 0x1000,0x0050,scsi,LSI1064,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x0054,scsi,LSI1068,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x0056,scsi,LSI1064E,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x0058,scsi,LSI1068E,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x005a,scsi,LSI1066E,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x005c,scsi,LSI1064A,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x005e,scsi,LSI1066,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x0060,scsi,LSI1078,mptscsi_2xx.o
device 0x1000,0x0407,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID,megaraid2.o
device 0x1000,0x0408,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID,megaraid2.o
device 0x1000,0x0411,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID SAS1064R,megaraid_sas.o
device 0x1000,0x1960,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID,megaraid2.o
device 0x1000,0x9010,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID ,megaraid2.o
device 0x1000,0x9060,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID ,megaraid2.o

The spacing in there is exactly how it was returned, without the word wrapping. I’m generally pretty organized with files and code so seeing this I needed to keep myself from fixing it :) Take note of the device line with 0×0408 in it, this will be changed to 0×0409 which we found out from the previous command.

From: device 0x1000,0x0408,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID,megaraid2.o
To: device 0x1000,0x0409,scsi,LSI Logic MegaRAID,megaraid2.o

Now that the updated the file to see the controller card we’ll need to update ESX and reboot. I’m not fully sure if each of these are needed, I would think that at least the first is, but I have done in before for safe practice to make sure the system is up to date.

#esxcfg-boot -p (reloads PCI data)
#esxcfg-boot -i (reloads initrd information)
#esxcfg-boot -b (sets up boot information)

Upon rebooting and logging into the VMware Virtual Infrastructure Client you should be able to access that datastore and begin to create virtual machines. Watch out with keeping snapshots around too long, I talked about this some in a previous post. I now also recall watching the various services starting on boot and that it would begin to fail on a particular one until this was fixed. I didn’t write that down but I’ll try and find out what it is and add it here.

  1. Ervan says:

    I installed an ESX Server on 3.5 on an IDE Drive, I can’t see the data store, when I am trying to add the storage for Virtual machine. I just want to know, it doesn’t support IDE at all, I also have 2 x SATA drives, how would I get them working.

    I specialise in windows, so will appeciate a detail help.


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