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So now that VMware has released a free version of ESXi, has anyone had any luck getting it to run natively on any laptops? For example, Dell D6xx or D8xx series? And, no, I’m not talking about running ESXi inside a VM within VMware Workstation.

Update: So apparently ESXi can’t seem to detect IDE-based laptop harddrives, but it can boot directly off USB.  Here’s the link which explains how to boot ESXi off USB.

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22 Comments

  1. Sure – you can boot it off usb – but unless you have storage that ESX can see – you won’t have anywhere to load your vms.

  2. True. But, you can connect the ESXi laptop up to an NFS server to load VMs from there.

  3. ESXi 3.5U2 installs fine on Latitude D630. Built-in DVD drive does not work however. You need to attach your OS install disk on the VM Inf Client side.

  4. I have ESXi running off of a USB flash drive on my Dell Latitude D830. It runs great. I’ve been playing with it trying to get my external USB drive to be recognized as a storage device worthy of a datastore. The OS sees the external storage, I can format it with VMFS, etc.. But I’m not sure how to “manually” setup a datastore if your not using VI Client… anyone have any ideas?

  5. It sounds like you’d have to do some heavy hacking to get the USB drive recognized as a “valid datastore”. As far as I know, ESXi only recognizes a valid subset of the hard disk drivers as valid VMFS datastores.

    My best suggestion would be to compare settings in a normal ESXi deployment to the one on the laptop and look for differences. If that’s not possible, perhaps comparing a valid NFS datastore would help, also.

    Lastly, try looking to see if any of the command-line utilities help at all (the scripts/tools beginning with vm* or vi*).

  6. so far…
    D630… 4Gb Ram…
    Wd Scorpio Sata drive…
    and A13 BIOS with VT enabled…

    Boot ESXi off the USB, and connecting with the VI client (browser to ESXi IP address), allows you to create the drive as a datastore.

    Just wondering how much memory A13 will report into ESXi…?

  7. A13 should report the full 4GB to ESXi. In my case, all memory was correctly reported — are you indicating that you’re only seeing partial memory being reported to ESXi?

  8. ESXi will see as much RAM as you have installed… as long as the motherboard is reporting it correctly. I have it installed on an HP workstation (DC5100 MT) right now and my motherboard is only seeing 3GB of RAM even if I install 4GB… ESXi picks up what the BIOS says is there unfortunately…

  9. I read from some other place that if you boot from the USB on you laptop, the ESXi will FORMAT internal disk when it boots up.
    Is it true? anybody tried this? I want to test it on my laptop, but I don’t want to lose anything on the internal harddisk

  10. Nope. ESXi will NOT format the internal disk of the laptop when booting from the USB drive.

  11. well the D630 reported all its RAM (4Gb) and has worked flawlessly… but…

    I need more RAM… and 4G SoDimms are just too expensive..

    Then just for a laugh, I have just spec’d the new Dell 6400 Precision… wonder if it’d work… quad core intel, 16gb RAM and dual drives….. hmmm (oops £6.8K ouch) but that would run everything…

  12. I managed to load ESXi on Panasonic laptop, it does not support the builtin NIC (Marvel type, not Intel Pro). Any idea if I can make it work ?

  13. Works on a Acer Travelmate 5100 , boot off USB , it has a built in intel network card which it recognises.

    Wish i could access its VMs through the laptop interface though

  14. I was hoping to get ESXI on my new laptop just to I can work with it every where I go, but for some reason it freezes on the install screen – screen shot: (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2356/3529136389_308f7f75f5_b.jpg). I suspect it has to do with the installer being unable to find a supported device – screen shot: (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2093/3529145237_74d14937aa_b.jpg).

    • Hi sqlsamson,

      Can you list the specs of your laptop? I’m thinking it may have to do with your I/O controller (SATA) not being supported by ESXi?

  15. I copied this information from the HP website.

    Hardware
    Product Name dv7-1245dx
    Microprocessor AMD Turion X2 RM-72 Dual-Core Mobile Processor
    Microprocessor Cache 2.10 GHz
    Memory 4096MB
    Video Graphics ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics RS780M
    Video Memory Up to 1918MB
    Hard Drive 320GB (5400RPM)
    Multimedia Drive LightScribe SuperMulti 8X DVD±R/RW with Double Layer Support
    Display 17.0” Diagonal WXGA+ High-Definition HP BrightView Widescreen Display (1440 x 900)
    Fax/Modem High speed 56k modem
    Network Card Integrated 10/100 Ethernet LAN
    Wireless Connectivity
    802.11b/g WLAN
    Sound Altec Lansing speakers
    Keyboard 101-key compatible
    Pointing Device Touch Pad with On/Off button and dedicated vertical scroll Up/Down pad
    PC Card Slots 1 ExpressCard/54 Slot (also supports ExpressCard/34)
    External Ports
    5-in-1 integrated Digital Media Reader for Secure Digital cards, MultiMedia cards, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, or xD Picture cards
    4 Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0, 4th port shared with eSATA
    2 Headphone out
    1 microphone-in
    HDMI
    1 VGA (15-pin)
    eSATA + USB 2.0
    1 RJ-11 (modem)
    1 RJ -45 (LAN)
    1 notebook expansion port 3
    1 Consumer IR (Remote Receiver)
    Dimensions 15.59 (W) x 11.22″ (D) x 1.31 (min H)/1.66(max H)
    Weight 7.75lbs
    Security
    Kensington MicroSaver lock slot
    Power-on password
    Accepts 3rd party security lock devices
    Power
    65W AC Adapter
    8-Cell Lithium-Ion battery
    What’s In The Box HP Mobile Remote Control

  16. What would be nice is if I can use the excess space on the USB hard drive that ESXi is booting from to hold a datastore.

    I would have thought since it was booting from that drive it could happen but trying to get it to work has failed.

  17. I have esxi 4.0 update 1 running really well on a dell latitude D630. It is rockin pretty good, and it is running off of the internal hard drive. Only issue I am having is getting the secondary hotswap drive that dell makes to be recognized in the ESXi os so I can use it for a data store location. Other than that, no complaints, and it is running 3 VM’s just fine.

  18. I run ESXi 4.0 w/updates on a lenovo R500 (Core 2 duo P8700 2.53 Ghz, 4GB ram). I boot ESXi from a mem stick,for datastore i use a separate harddisk which i had around. (can be replugged within a few seconds w/o tools). But you can also use some space on your win- or linux haddisk, just make the space you want to give ESXi “unallocated”. Runs very stable, straigth off w/o any hacking. I run a cisco CUCM 8 on ESXi.

  19. (Gallus) What type of connection are you using to connect your hard disk for your data store? As far as I have seen, ESXi does not support USB without some major configuration changes.


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