My ESXi vSphere 5.5 Home Lab (Haswell) Build

Last year, I decided to switch everything to 19” rack solution, because I was tired of cases under the table and a cable chaos. So I replaced already last year everything with 19” components.

I ended up with a 19” HP rack I could organize for nothing than the transport.
First I was not sure if I really should take a 48” height standard rack, but in the mean time I would decide again for it. The planned three 4U cases, all the network gear and cable management stuff could need a lot of space if you won’t put it to tight together.
Also I have now some space for cable boxes in the rack at the bottom for cables and other stuff.

The “old” build (two host still use it)

So my first setup I lived with for about a year  composed of two identical ESXi Hosts with the following components:

As emergency ESXi host and just because I love the idea to have such a small ESXi host, I bought an Intel® NUC Kit DC3217IYE 🙂

In addition to all the stuff above I buyed a Cisco SG300-28 to connect everything.

My experience with the “old” build

This setup works now for about a year and was nice to start with the ESXi and vSphere stuff. I virtualized almost everything, from the router to the Domain controllers and even the FreeNas ZFS Storage which serves as iSCSI provider for ESXi itself and also for samba shares.

My experience with that build is really good, I had done just some small improvements. I replaced the case fan in the back with more silent one and just removed the three big fans in the middle of the case. Because the 3.5” hot-swap bays already had a fan, the air flow is good to get the heat out of the case. I even throttled the bay fans with a resistor to keep it silent. Because the WD Red’s aren’t really high performance disks, this is sufficient.

In the last months, I began to realize, that in some situations a third host would be nice. Also I missed a good KVM over IP solution which is affordable.

Planning the new build

I’m frequently reading a few blogs about Home Lab builds and my conclusion was to set on Supermicro boards. Especially because of the IPMI features including KVM over IP which is included for free on these boards.

The hardest decision was if I should go with the Xeon 1600 or 2600 series, because of the current RAM limit on the C226 chipset with Haswell CPU’s of 32GB and also to maybe switch to a dual CPU board which i would run only with one CPU and maybe extend it later.
The problem is, these Xeon CPU’s and these boards could get really expensive if you don’t want to go with the slowest Xeon’s of these series.

Because of the price and because I anyway plan to have three hosts in total, my decision was to go with the 32GB limit and cheaper components.

After some research, I decided to go with a build similar to the one described on the Wahl Network Blog.

The new build

To be sure everything I want will work as expected I’m starting with one new host, and then after some time, replacing the components of the existing hosts.

All components were delivered in the last days and now I assembled the following build:

My experience with the new build

Currently I start slowly to get my new build to know. I already installed ESXi and love the fact, that I only had to put in the USB stick and the rest was done from the couch (thanks to IPMI features of the Supermicro board. With the ESXi 5.5 U1 the onboard i210AT and also the i340 NIC’s were all recognized without any changes to the ISO or installing any drivers.

After adding the host to vSphere, first I have seen was the Alarm about an IPMI event. The event occurred because the FAN was frequently at “critical” speed and then started to run at full speed. So my next point in the list is to tune the IPMI settings to fix the FAN problem. Because my silent low RPM fans in the back of the case could run at low speed of 300 RPM, the default threshold of 600 would always trigger an alarm and push the fan to run at full speed.

I will update this from time to time when I have some news or these setup.

Update: 06th July 2014

Currently I have 3 hosts built like this. Everything works as expected and I’m happy with them.

For the notes here the commands for settings the FAN thresholds thought IPMI in windows with the IPMIutil.exe:

Get a list of all sensor with threshold values:

or if you like it more compact (also display the thresholds as you need it to set later for copy&paste):

For getting a single FAN (sensor), for FANA in my case:

The output would be something like this:

This is my CPU Fan with the stock Intel Fan. I set the thresholds for this with the following command (the -n argument is the “snum” from the command above):

For my Noctua case FAN which runs at low 300 rpm usually, I used this:

This results in the following setting:


Hide Command Window of Default MDT 2013 prestart command in SCCM

If you want to hide the big ugly black command window of the default prestart command wizard hook. You can fin one way to do that at Alexsemi’s Blog.

His version is to workaround the inject of SCCM MDT with cscript.exe, by wrapping it with an AutoIt exe. This way OSD won’t replace the wscript.exe call with cscript.exe. So there is no window visible.
But because I don’t like to have any unnecessary files, I found a solution with a PowerShell call.

Continue reading

Active Directory DC did not authenticate and replicate

Yesterday I got a problem in an Active Directory environment. A DC stopped to authenticate users.

The first problem was easy to find and is typical. The time on this DC was several years behind. I know, not really common to have such a time shift, but the symptoms were clear. So this was fixed very quickly. Continue reading

PL/SQL split function with regulary expression support


Welcome to my blog

I try to start a new page (again) and hope I will use it more in the future than in the past and maybe someone could find useful information’s 🙂

I don’t know if I will use it really as blog and post regularly some big blog posts, but I wan’t to collect my findings during my daily researches about specific topics. This could be simple links, snippets of code or maybe some short checklists for specific tasks.