NSX products. In this post, we'll try to details them and provide download. download links. Those books were reviewed by VMware and published under VMware Press. Download the PDF Book here. Operationalizing. with VMware eBooks - certification guides include free practice test! These VMware PDF books are easily viewable on your iPad, Kindle, Android Automating vSphere with VMware vCenter Orchestrator (eBook) Cengage Learning · McGraw-Hill Press · MeasureUp · Pearson Press · VMware Press · Wiley. VMware, Inc. is an American publicly traded software company from California, USA. It provides On September 8, , VMware announced the release of Workstation and Fusion as a free upgrade "EMC Completes Acquisition of VMware" (Press release). "A Performance Comparison of Hypervisors" (PDF).
Building VMware Home Lab: Complete How-To
NAKIVO Blog > VMware Administration and Backup > Building VMware Home Lab: Complete How-To
VMware is one of the best virtualization platforms in the world, popular among IT specialists due to its ability to provide high speed operations, reliability, scalability, security and convenience. The number of VMware users is growing every day – VMware provides virtualization solutions for both home and enterprise-level users which satisfy all of them. VMware type 2 hypervisors can be installed on existing operating systems running on desktops and laptops while the type 1 hypervisor can be installed directly on physical servers (a bare metal hypervisor). Type 2 hypervisors such as VMware Player, Workstation or Fusion are usually more affordable for users and IT enthusiasts than the type 1 hypervisor (ESXi Server). Not every user has a free physical server or servers in the inventory on which to try an ESXi and VMware vSphere enterprise grade virtualization solution. Technically, ESXi can be installed on your physical computer but you may need to integrate a VIB package into the ESXi installation disk image if the ESXi installer cannot detect some devices (VIB packages contain device drivers for ESXi).
Today’s blog post explains how to set up a VMware lab at home for trying vSphere with ESXi hosts and vCenter in your existing environment by using a laptop or desktop computer. This blog post also instructs you on how to attach shared storage and use vMotion/Storage vMotion for migrating VMs between ESXi hosts and datastores. The blog post is written in a walkthrough format so as to clearly explain how to build VMware home lab.
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Hardware Configuration for a VMware Home Lab
VMware Workstation is used in today’s blog post for deploying ESXi hosts as virtual machines. Moreover, VMware provides a nested virtualization feature. Hence, you can create a VM running inside a VM. In this particular case you can deploy a VM on an ESXi host running on a VM. To be able to work comfortably with the VMware home lab you need to have a computer that meets the the VMware home lab hardware requirements: 32 GB of RAM, a multicore x64 CPU with GHz or faster core speed (produced in or later) that supports Intel VT-x or AMD-V virtualization hardware extensions, a hard disk drive (HDD) with about GB of free space (SSD is preferred due to a higher read/write speed), Ethernet network adapter, Linux or Windows x64 operating system (with GUI) installed on your physical machine.
The following software is used for the VMware home lab explained in today’s blog post:
- VMware Workstation 15 is used as a desktop hypervisor
- VMware ESXi Server as a VM (2 VMs total)
- VMware vCenter Server (1 VM, deployed as a virtual appliance)
- FreeNAS for creating an iSCSI shared storage (1 VM)
- Lubuntu 16 Linux for installing on a nested VM
In order to learn how to build VMware home lab, you need to understand how it is structured. Below you can see a principal scheme of a VMware home lab to be deployed.
Total VMware home lab hardware and software requirements are based on the following minimum requirements:
- ESXi needs at least 4 GB of RAM (8 GB or more are recommended); 2 CPU cores.
- vCenter Server needs at least 8 GB of RAM; 2 CPU cores.
- FreeNAS: 8 GB of RAM is recommended.
- Your host operating system needs at least 4 GB of RAM to work properly
- VMware Workstation needs at least 2 GB of RAM (4 GB or more are recommended)
Licensing and price
You can set up a VMware lab at home for free for the appropriate period of time if you respect the appropriate installation combination. It is recommended to set up all lab components in a short time period (for example, for a few days) because after installing ESXi, the trial period begins and if you try to install vCenter in a month after installing ESXi, you’ll have only one month left for testing vSphere in your lab.
VMware Workstation provides a day free trial for new users. When the trial period expires, VMware recommends that you buy a license - otherwise VMs cannot be started. You can use the VMware Player to run your VMs for free after that, but the VMware Player includes fewer features: for example, the Virtual Network Editor is missing. VMware Workstation and VMware Player can be installed on a Linux operating system that is completely free. You don’t need to go out and buy a Windows OS for your VMware lab setup for home. Of course, if you already have a computer running Windows, you can use it for installing VMware Workstation.
ESXi provides a free day full-featured evaluation period. When the trial period expires, you should apply for a license. You can also use a free license, but most of the most important features are disabled in the free version. You can also create a new VM and install ESXi from scratch in your VMware test lab. Read the blog post about Free ESXi to learn more about ESXi licensing.
VMware vCenter Server for vSphere can be used for a day evaluation period free of charge.
FreeNAS is a completely free software solution based on the FreeBSD operating system.
Installing VMware Workstation
Now that the hardware is prepared and the operating system is installed, you can download and install the VMware Workstation on your physical machine. In order to download VMware Workstation for Linux or Windows, visit this page on VMware’s site.
Installing VMware Workstation on Linux
Go to the directory where you saved the downloaded installer file. In the current example the VMware Workstation installer is located in the Downloads directory:
Make the installer file executable:
sudo chmod +x ./VMware-Workstation-Fullx86_bundle
Run the VMware Workstation Linux installer:
The installation wizard window now appears. Answer the questions provided by the wizard and click Next for switching to the next step.
- Accept the license agreement.
- Would you like to check for product updates on startup? Select Yes or No.
- Would you like to join the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program? Select Yes or No.
- Enter the user that will initially connect to the Workstation Server. Type the user name of the account you are using in Linux.
- Choose a directory for your shared virtual machines, for example, /var/lib/VMware/SharedVMs
- Enter the port to use for HTTPS access to Workstation Server ( by default).
- Enter the license key. Keep this field empty for the free trial mode.
- The product is ready to be installed.
GNU C Compiler must be installed before running the VMware Workstation. In order to install this compiler, execute the command:
sudo apt-get -y install gcc make linux-headers-$(uname -r) dkms
The interfaces of VMware Workstation for Linux and for Windows are identical. Below you can see the screenshot of the interface of VMware Workstation 15 running on Linux.
VMware Player is also installed by default when you install VMware Workstation.
Installing VMware Workstation on Windows
Go to the directory where you saved the downloaded installer and run the installer file. The name of the file is VMware-workstation-fullexe in this case. Similarly to the installation on Linux, a wizard opens. After configuring options click Next for switching to the next step of the wizard.
- On the Welcome screen click Next.
- Accept the license agreement.
- Select the installation destination.
- Tick the checkboxes if you want to check for updates on startup and join the VMware Customer Experience Improvement Program.
- Select the shortcuts you wish to place on your system.
- Hit Install to begin the installation.
- The final installation screen allows you to enter a license (is not necessary for a free trial mode).
Now you have the installed instance of VMware Workstation on your physical computer.
Deploying a VM Running ESXi on VMware Workstation
For further experiments conducted in VMware home lab used for writing this blog post, a laptop with VMware Workstation 15 installed on Windows 10 should be used (there are C: and D: partitions on a disk). You can reproduce all explained actions on a Linux machine because VMware Workstation is a cross-platform virtualization solution (note that the paths would be different on a Linux machine). The next step is to install ESXi on a VM.
Creating a VM
Download the ESXi installer in the ISO format from this page of VMware’s site. You may need to create a VMware account for downloading the installation image; this process is free.
Create a directory to store virtual machines, for example D:\VMware home lab\
Create a subdirectory D:\VMware home lab\ESXia for storing the files of the first ESXi VM.
Create a new virtual machine in VMware Workstation. Click File > New Virtual Machine. The new virtual machine wizard appears.
- On the Welcome screen select Custom (advanced)
- Choose the Virtual Machine Hardware Compatibility. Select Workstation x.
- Guest Operating System Installation. Select the Installer disk image file (iso) and browse the ESXi installer iso file. Click Next.
- Select a Guest Operating System. Select VMware ESX, then select VMware ESXi 6.x in the drop-down menu and click Next.
- Name the Virtual Machine. Enter the VM name, for example, ESXia. Select the D:\VMware home lab\ESXia directory you have created before as a VM location.
- Processor Configuration. Specify the following parameters:
- Number of processors: 2
- Number of Cores per processor: 1
If you use 1 CPU with 1 core, the ESXi installer displays an error during installation.
- Memory for the Virtual Machine. Specify the amount of memory equal to MB.
- Network Type. Select Use network address translation (NAT).
- Select I/O Controller Types. Select Paravirtualized SCSI (Recommended).
- Select a Disk Type. Select SCSI (Recommended) as a disk type.
- Select a Disk. Click Create a new virtual disk.
- Specify Disk Capacity. Set maximum disk size to 5 GB. ESXi doesn’t consume much disk space, and a 5GB disk is enough for ESXi installation. Select Store virtual disk as a single file.
- Specify Disk File. Place your virtual disk in the directory specified as the VM location. In this case, the D:\VMware home lab\ESXia\asimi.co.ke is used.
- Ready to Create Virtual Machine. Check your VM settings and click Finish to create the VM.
Installing ESXi on a VM
After finishing configuration in the wizard, a VM should be powered on automatically. The VM boots from the ISO image and you can see the ESXi installer interface.
- On the Welcome screen press Enter.
- Read and accept the End User License Agreement (EULA). Press F11 to continue.
- Select a disk to install or upgrade. Select your 5GB virtual disk created before.
- Select a keyboard layout. US Default is selected in this particular case.
- Enter a root password. Confirm the root password.
- On the Confirm Install screen press F11 to start the installation.
Read this blog post to see the explanation of ESXi installation in details with screenshots.
Editing VM settings and configuring network
Once ESXi have been installed, shut down the VM running ESXi (click VM > Power > Shut Down Guest or press Ctrl+E in the interface of VMware Workstation) and prepare it for further network and storage configuration. Let’s create a second virtual disk that we’ll use for VM datastore (later nested VMs can be placed on that storage). You should also create a second virtual network adapter (NIC – network interface controller) that can be used for NIC teaming or for connecting to shared storage (we recommend that you use a separate storage network for connecting shared storage to ESXi hosts).
In order to add a new virtual disk to a VM, click VM > Settings and in the Virtual Machine Settings window click Add > Hard Disk.
- Choose the virtual disk type: SCSI (Recommended).
- Create a new virtual disk.
- Set a disk size equal to 40 GB and select the “Store virtual disk as a single file” option. Don’t tick the check box “Allocate all disk space now” if you don’t want to use thick provisioning. You can set the maximum disk size for more than 40 GB if you have enough disk space on your physical computer.
- Specify virtual disk file location. D:\VMware home lab\ESXia\ESXiavmdk is used in the current example because it is convenient to store all VM files in the one directory.
In order to add a second network adapter, similarly click Add > Network Adapter. Let’s select different networks for connecting ESXi hosts with each other (NAT Network) and for connecting ESXi hosts with shared storage (Host-Only Network).
The NAT network allows VMs to connect with each other, a host machine, and for a host to connect to VMs. VMs can access an external network that can be accessed by a host.
The Host-Only network allows VMs to communicate with each other and with a host. A host can communicate with VMs. VMs don’t have access to external networks and Internet.
You can find a detailed comparison of VMware virtual networks in this blog post.
VMware Workstation provides you with a virtual network editor with which you can configure your virtual networks such as NAT and Host-Only networks. Moreover, you can create more NAT and Host-Only networks and assign the network addresses, virtual gateways and virtual DHCP servers for them.
The following connection scheme can be used in the VMware ESXi home lab explained in today’s blog post:
Open a Virtual Network Editor by clicking Edit > Virtual Network Editor. Let’s define the following network configuration:
VMnet8 (NAT network)
Network Address: /24
DHCP Settings: IP range is - ; Default lease time settings.
Network Address /24
DHCP Settings: IP range is –
In order to edit settings, select the VMnet8 network and hit the NAT Settings button.
Set the gateway IP address and advanced network settings. Click OK to save the changes.
Similarly, hit DHCP settings button for editing the DHCP configuration.
Similarly, you can edit DHCP settings for VMnet1 and other networks.
Note: You can use other IP addresses in your VMware home labs. If you want to recreate the environment explained in the blog post, you can use the same configuration for more convenience.
Deploying a Second ESXi Host by Copying the VM
You have just created a VM, installed ESXi , and configured the VM and networks. Let’s create one more ESXi VM by copying the existing VM. Open your file manager, for example Windows Explorer, and go to the directory where your first VM is residing. In this case, this directory is D:\VMware home lab\. The directory of the first VM is D:\VMware home lab\ESXia\. Create a directory named ESXib in the D:\VMware home lab\ directory. Shut down your VM running ESXi (ESXia). Copy all files from the ESXia directory to the ESXib directory. Now you can see one of the advantages of hardware virtualization in action – you don’t need to deploy a new VM from scratch; instead, you can copy the existing VM for multiplying your VMs.
Rename the virtual disks and VM configuration file in the ESXib directory if you wish to prevent confusion (this step is not necessary):
asimi.co.ke → asimi.co.ke
ESXiavmdk → ESXibvmdk
asimi.co.ke → asimi.co.ke
Open the cloned VM in VMware Workstation. Click File > Open and select the D:\VMware home lab\ESXib\asimi.co.ke file. Go to VM > Settings > Options and rename your VM to ESXib. Power on your second ESXi VM (VM > Power > Power On).
VMware Workstation warns you that the virtual disk file is not found. Select Browse and your D:\VMware home lab\ESXib\asimi.co.ke file. Click Open. The warning is displayed once more for the second virtual disk. Similarly select the ESXibvmdk file.
Next, VMware Workstation will warn that this virtual machine might have been removed or copied. Click I Copied It and your second VMs should be loaded.
Why is this warning displayed? It is displayed because the copied VM has the same UUID (Universal Unique Identifier that is a bit integer) as the source VM. UUID is generated depending on VM location and is used for generating VM’s MAC (Media Access Control) address for a virtual network adapter. If you select I Moved It, then the UUID will be preserved. If you select I Copied It, the new UUID will be generated. Each machine must have a unique UUID that is a machine’s digital fingerprint. An example of UUID is 34 5e cb fa fd d4 a1 e1 72 3b 05 62 4d 3a 52
Now you have two VMs on which ESXi servers are installed.
Basic ESXi Configuration
Power on the first VM on which you installed ESXi (ESXia) and press F2 to customize the system. As you can see on the screenshot, a virtual DHCP server for the VMnet8 virtual network works properly, and the IP address is obtained automatically (). However, we recommend that you set IP addresses for servers manually and you can see how to do this below. Select Configure Management Network in the System Customization menu and press Enter.
Select the Network Adapters option in the Configure Management Network menu.
You can see the second network adapter you have recently added to the VM. It is better to enable the second adapter later in the web interface. Press Esc to return to the Configure Management Network menu.
Select IPv4 Configuration in the Configure Management Network menu. In this menu Set static IPv4 address and network configuration.
- IPv4 address:
- Subnet Mask:
- Default Gateway:
Press Enter to apply changes.
You can configure the IP settings for the second network adapter later on, when preparing to set up shared storage. Disable IPv6 if you are not going to use this network type. Restart your ESXi VM after configuring the network settings to apply changes. The host name can be changed in System Customization > Configure Management Network > DNS Configuration. In the current example ESXi01 is the name of the first virtual ESXi host for the ESXi home lab (the default host name is localhost).
Now go to the System Customization menu, enter Troubleshooting Options, then enable ESXi Shell and SSH. Enabling these options allows you to manage the ESXi Server with a local console or remotely via SSH.
Open your web browser and enter https:// in the address bar. Confirm security exception and you will see the login page of VMware Host Client with which you can manage your ESXi host. Enter the login and password you have specified during ESXi installation.
Creating a new datastore
After your login, VMware asks you whether you want to help improve the VMware Host Client. Tick the check box if you want and click OK. Let’s create a new datastore that will utilize the second 40GB virtual disk. This type of datastore is referred to as directly attached storage (DAS). In order to create a new datastore, select Storage in the Navigator (which is located in the left pane of the window), then press the New Datastore button.
- Select creation type. On this screen select how you would like to create a datastore. Click Create new VMFS datastore.
- Select device. On this step, select a device on which you would like to create a new VMFS partition. A 40GB virtual disk is selected for this purpose. Enter the name of the datastore, for example, datastore40.
- Select partitioning options - Use full disk and VMFS6.
- Ready to complete. Check the datastore configuration summary and select the Finish button to complete the datastore creation.
The datastore is now created.
Configuring a network used for shared storage
As you recall, a second NIC was created for the ESXi VM, but was not configured. Now it’s time to configure the second network interface that will be used by the ESXi host for connecting to shared network attached storage. For establishing this connectivity, you have to create a new virtual switch and a new VMkernel NIC. A VMkernel NIC is used for connecting ESXi to a specified network by using the vSwitch to which this VMkernel NIC is connected. Read the blog post about VMware vSwitch to learn more.
Open VMware Host Client and go to Networking > Virtual switches, then choose Add standard virtual switch. Note, that there is a vSwitch0 that is created automatically when ESXi is installed.
The Add standard virtual switch window appears. Enter the vSwitch name, for example, vSwitch1. Select vmnic1 in the dropdown menu as Uplink 1. Edit other settings if needed and then click the Add button to add a new virtual switch.
After creating a new vSwitch, go to Networking > VMkernel NICs >Add VMkernel NIC to create a new VMkernel network adapter.
Define the following parameters in the Add VMkernel NIC window.
- Port group: New port group
- New port group: Storage
- Virtual switch: vSwitch1
- IPv4 Configuration: Static
- Subnet mask:
Tick the checkboxes near the services you want to allow for this VMkernel NIC.
Click the Create button.
Now you can ping the IP address of VMkernel () from your host on which VMware Workstation in installed. The first ESXi host is configured. Power on your second VM on which ESXi host is installed (this VM has been cloned recently) and configure your second ESXi host similarly as you configured your first ESXi host, apart from the host name and IP addresses.
The following network parameters are used for the second ESXi in the current example.
1st network adapter (NAT network): IP address , mask , gateway
2nd network adapter (Host-only network): IP address , mask
Deploying vCenter Server
After configuring two VMs as ESXi hosts, you are ready to deploy VMware vCenter Server for managing your ESXi home lab centrally. Download vCenter Server from VMware’s site by using this link. The name of the downloaded file is VMware-VCSA-alliso in this example. Open this ISO file or mount it to a virtual CD/DVD drive and copy the VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance_OVFova from the vcsa directory of the ISO image to a custom directory on your physical machine (vCenter Server appliance is a partially configured distribution built on a Linux basis that is called a Photon OS).
Deploying the OVA template
In the graphical user interface of VMware Workstation select File > Open and select the extracted VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance_OVFova file.
- A pop-up window with EULA (End User License Agreement) is displayed (the OVA import wizard is opened). Tick the check box “I accept the terms of the license agreement”.
- Create the D:\VMware home lab\vCenter directory and define this directory as a storage path for the new virtual machine. Enter the name of the new VM, such as vCenter.
- Provide a name and logical storage path for the new virtual machine. The given VM name is vCenter and the VM location is the same as the location for previously created VMs - D:\VMware home lab\vCenter\.
- Select deployment options. At this step select the Tiny vCenter Server with Embedded PSC option that will be enough for a small ESXi home lab.
- Set the additional properties for this virtual machine. This screen contains multiple menu entries that must be configured. After configuring one menu entry, click another string for configuring the remaining parameters. Drag your mouse over the “i” icon on the right side of the window for reading useful tips.
- Host Network IP address Family: IPv4
- Host Network Mode: static
- Host Network Prefix: In the binary format the /24 mask is (24 ones) that is the same as in a decimal format.
- Host Network Default Gateway:
- Host Network DNS Servers:
- Host Network Identity: vcenterlocaldomain (enter the FQDN – a fully qualified domain name).
SSO Configuration. Enter login and password that will be used for Single Sign On.
System Configuration. Enter the root password and confirm this password. This password will be used for console login.
Upgrade Configuration. The parameters of this sub-menu must be configured if you wish to upgrade the existing VMware vCenter Server. Skip configuring this category of parameters if you deploy a fresh vCenter instance.
Miscellaneous. You can skip configuring this category of parameters.
Networking Properties. Enter the domain name (the same as used by ESXi host you have deployed). In the current example, the default localdomain name is used. Press Import to start deploying the vCenter VM from the OVA template. After deploying is complete, the VM is started automatically. The blue-gray management interface is similar to the yellow-gray ESXi management interface (see the screenshot below).
The Static IP Configuration has already been done by you with the OVA deployment wizard. You can check the IP configuration to make sure that network settings are configured correctly inside the VM.
By default, the virtual network adapter of your VM running vCenter may be connected to a network that is distinct from your NAT network (for example, your vCenter VM may be connected to a VMnet0 Bridged network that is not used by any of your VMs). Check the network settings. In the interface of VMware Workstation, click VM > Settings. In the Hardware tab choose your network adapter and NAT (much like as you had configured for the first and the second VMs running ESXi). After doing this, open the console on your physical machine and ping your vCenter Server IP address (ping ) to make sure that the network works properly for your VM running vCenter.