The Mini ESXi 4 Portable Server

Special thanks to Kevin Miller (@kevin_miller), for making sure I didn’t burn up anything and running out to Fry’s to get a new CPU when the orginal we ordered turned out to be not compatible.

List of the material used in final Version:

Intel DH57JG - Motherboard Intel i5-661 Core Duo - Processor (special note: DO NOT get the i5-655k unlocked CPU in the picture, it was not compatible with any intel Motherboard) Lian Li MINI ITX Case (6x9x12 in dimensions) supports Full size PSU Rosewill silent PSU Intel dual port PCIe 16x Gbe NIC Stock intel heatsink and fan (Nexus fan in the picture was very cool, just too big to fit anything into the PCIe port. 2x Intel 80GB SSD 2x4GB OCZ Memory Kit

The server built amazingly fast using PXE boot and installing an ESXi image. Only thing that didn’t work that I wish it did was the on board NIC, 2 GigE ports will be more than enough for our purpose. This is not a lab machine but will run all the components I need to deploy a solution in an automated fashion. I really like VMware Fusion but if I try to run Windows 7, a Linux Server and a Windows 2003 server at the same time my awesome Mac Book Pro becomes useless. This is a lightweight and easy way to bring all of these components together for relatively low cost and if it can save half a day on an install it will pay for itself pretty fast. I am running: Windows 2003 ( a vCenter Template) UDA20 - Ultimate Deployment Appliance that I fought with for a while and finally have it running reliably. vSphere Mangement Assistant

As of this post working on building: Windows 7 VM (for Powershell and other tools) Maybe a free NFS/CIFS server for some easy file shares. Linux Server (just in case I need it)

Now for some pics:




SSDs Mounted


Two 80 GB SSD’s are mounted in this space.

Everything going into the Case



Size relative to my hand


I do not have NBA player sized hands, hopefully this shows just how small the case is. This solution is a little more pricey for just a lab machine but if it travels I do not need a SATA disk failing because the server had a bumpy ride.

Written on June 16, 2010