Section 2.2. Pre-installation Tasks

2.2. Pre-installation Tasks

Before you install ESX Server, there are some tasks you need to complete in order to ensure a successful installation. However, if you want to install, blow away, and reinstall ESX Server a few times to get used to the install method or to test certain components of your install method and document your procedures, that's fine, too. We'd highly recommend getting comfortable with the installation of ESX Server. Also, once you're ready for the production build, ensure that the method and options of your installation are well documented.

Before placing the CD in the CD-ROM drive, be sure your server meets at least the minimum specifications and does not exceed the maximum. Table 2.1 outlines both the minimum and maximum specifications supported by ESX Server at the time of this writing.

Table 2-1. Physical Specifications Supported by ESX Server







Intel 700MHz Pentium 3 Xeon or AMD Opteron 32-bit mode

Intel 900MHz Pentium 3 Xeon of AMD Opteron 32-bit mode



The ESX service console is bound to, and has a higher priority on, Processor 0 or the first processor. (We strongly recommend you have at least two processors.)




Allow enough memory for each virtual server you'll have plus 800MB for the service console for scalability.

Network adapters

Intel Pro/100/1000

Broadcom NetXtreme

570x Gigabit

3Com 9xx adapters



ESX supports up to eight 1GB Ethernet adapters or 16 10/100MB Ethernet adapters. (We strongly recommend using a separate NIC for the service console; thus, the minimum requirement.)

Storage adapters

Basic SCSI


LSI Logic

NCR Symbios

(most models)

RAID adapters

HP Smart Array

Dell PercRAID


Mylex RAID

Fibre Channel adapters





When analyzing your server, review the Systems Compatibility Guide at and speak to your hardware vendor. Support for ESX Server has really taken off, and most major hardware vendors are familiar with which of their products conform to the ESX requirements.

We recommend that you have a second disk controller for your virtual machines, but it is not mandatory. This helps the performance of your virtual machines, especially those performing heavy disk I/O. If you have one controller, it will be shared between the service console and your virtual machines.

Note: It's a good idea to have your networking set up prior to installation. It's easier to let ESX Server catch all the NICs you have and install the drivers and have them recognized during the installation process. It's also to your benefit to have more than two NICs to run cables to separate switches for purposes of fault tolerance and to eliminate a single point of failure.

Table 2.1 lists the physical specifications, both minimum and maximum, for your ESX Server. In addition to the physical specifications, you should also be aware of ESX Server's other specifications. These other specifications are defined in Table 2.2.

Table 2-2. Other Specifications Supported by ESX Server





VMFS volumes



The maximum number is coincidentally the same as the number of LUNs you can have per ESX Server.




You'll have a LUN only if you're utilizing either a disk array or SAN storage.

Physical extent per VMFS volume



The maximum number of physical extents per VMFS 1 volume is 1. VMFS2 volumes can have 32 physical extents.

Size of physical extent


Each physical extent must be no larger than 2TB; thus, each VMFS 2 volume can be no larger than 64TB.

Virtual CPUs


Virtual CPUs are used by your virtual machines. You're allowed no more than 80 per ESX Server.

Number of adapters


This number is the total number of adapters (network and/or storage) that an ESX Server can have.

SWAP files


Size of SWAP file


Each ESX Server can have a total of eight SWAP files at 64GB each. The total allowable swap space equals 512GB, or half a terabyte.

The physical and virtual specifications of your ESX Server should be well documented to ensure compliance with the Systems Compatibility Guide and the Installation Guide. Over time, the physical or virtual build of your ESX Server will probably change, and these changes should also be documented in the build document of your ESX Server (see the Build Document section in this chapter).

Some other pre-installation steps you should follow include

  • Burn in your physical hardware

  • Set the time/date correctly in BIOS of your ESX Server

  • Run baselines on your hardware

2.2.1. The ESX Server Build Document

This section provides a template you can use to record the build of your ESX Server. By no means is this the only way to format or detail the build process and physical description of your ESX Server; however, you can use this as a template from which you can edit sections that best fit your environment and documentation requirements. This template is available on the Web site in more detail. You need to change the italicized verbiage.

Designing & Planning…
The ESX Server Build Document

The ESX Server build document includes the following:

  • Introduction My company has decided to deploy VMware's ESX Server 2.5 in support of my project name. This document details the necessary steps and required information needed to build an ESX Server. In addition, this document provides a comprehensive strategy as well as recommendations for various tools specific for my company's environment and its support of ESX Server.

  • Audience and usage This document is intended for use by my company's technical team as a framework to build and deploy ESX Server. The following will describe the server specification and build process of an ESX Server for my company. This document should be followed for all future builds of an ESX Server to ensure compliance with the best practices recommended both by VMware as well as my company's best practices, security policies, and approved build methodology.

  • Revisions A history of this document should be kept by my company's technical team and versioning utilized to track changes to the standard build so that modifications to methodology, security requirements or technical decisions maybe incorporated easily.

  • Pre-installation requirements The following components are required to complete any installation of ESX Server:

    • ESX Server Media

    • ESX Server License Key

    • ESX Virtual SMP License Key (if purchased)

    • ESX Server Name

    • ESX Server IP Information

The tasks listed in Table 2.3 need to be accomplished and documented prior to installing ESX Server.

Table 2-3. Tasks to Accomplish and Document Before Installing ESX Server

Required Task


ESX Server physical specification detail

Four 2.8GHz Intel Xeon processors 16GB RAM

Three 72GB SCSI hard drives RAID 1 with a hot spare

Four Intel Pro 1000 network adapters

Two Qlogic HBAs

Two 100GB LUNs assigned

ESX Server racked

Rack location

ESX Server cabled

Service console NIC VMnics

ESX Server service tag/serial number


ESX Server maintenance contract duration

Now through January 2009

VMware ESX Server gold support duration

Now through 2007

Virtualization With VMware ESX Server
Configuring VMware ESX Server 2.5 (Vol 1)
ISBN: 1597490199
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 173

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