DELL Poweredge T105 & VMware ESXi

Lots of people contacted me lately about my previous article about my Poweredge T105 running VMware ESXi. Most of them were concerned about the system being able to run ESXi properly. It seems that a lot of people have posted items on their Blog or in a Forum about the difficulties they experienced running ESX on a Poweredge T105.

Am I lucky? I’m not sure, the one thing I do know is that I have it running for a couple of months now.

An issue I can confirm is that you have to have a certain buildnumber (or above) to get it running, i.e. one of the earlier versions of ESXi did not run properly as stated in one of my earlier posts. When the T105 came to the market the version of ESXi available at that time, did not recognize most of the hardware that’s inside the T105 (broadcom nic, SATA controller etc.).

The version of ESXi(3.5.0 build-110271) I use does not have any difficulties of whatsoever. The PowerEdge T105 runs ESXi from a USB-stick plugged in onto the motherboard inside the case. It’s just plug and play, no additional drivers were used. To give you an idea of how it looks like (and proof of operation) I made some screenshots I’d like to share with you.

dell poweredgeT105 ESXi_1 dell poweredgeT105 ESXi_2 dell poweredgeT105 ESXi_3 dell poweredgeT105 ESXi_4

Looking into the future I think more and more hardware is able to run ESX(i), that’s logical if you look at the strategy Vmware has developed in the client corner of IT. Vmware’s currently developing a client hypervisor as part of the VDI/Desktop strategy and looking at the different hardware vendors producing laptop/client hardware the support for other hardware in that hypervisor which probably is based on ESXi (just guessing here) must be broadened. It’s most likely that you can run your ESXi hypervisor on nearly any piece of hardware in the near future.

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10 comments

  1. VirtualReality

    Gerben,

    very nice to see you got ESXi working on a PowerEdge T105. Currently I am configuring an ESXi host system based on the T105, but if I’m correct you got all working with the base components of the T105? With the base components I mean the onboard NIC and the onboard SATA controller, because I read soem people had some problems getting those components to work under ESXi.

    Could you please let me know whether ESXi works with the base configuration of the Dell PowerEdge T105? I would appreciate it!

    Greetings,

    VR

  2. Gerben

    First of all, I want to point out the system is not officially supported by VMware or DELL by running ESX on it. Having said that, I indeed run ESXi 3.5 on standard hardware. I boot ESXi from a USB-stick plugged in on the motherboard.
    I use the onboard nic and the onboard SATA controller. If you like, let me know your experiences, I am especially interested in details when you run into any problems. BR Gerben

  3. VirtualReality

    Thanks a lot for the fast reply. I’ll keep you informed about the problems we will encounter installing ESXi on the machine. It’ll serve as demosystem for our company, a big IT company.

    I’ll keep you up to date. Thanks again for the support.

  4. A few friends and I just updated our Dell T105s to quad-core Opteron CPUs via simple chip swap. Newegg has the AMD Barcelona Optedon 1356 CPU for $134, and you can re-use the Dell-supplied heatsink/fan.

    That takes you to quad-core at 2.3 Ghz for about 1/3 the price Dell charges for that BTO upgrade on a new system.

    I planned on running Hyper-V Server on mine, but after reading your notes I’ll give ESXi a try first.

    Thanks, Ken

  5. techmo

    Gerben,

    I have been able to run the ESXi from USB drive too. Is there anyway it can be installed on SATA drives?

    I have a feeling leaving USB drive in there might not be a very good option.

    Thanks.

  6. Alex

    Have any one tried the T105 with vSphere ESXi 4 and got it working?

  7. Gerben

    Works like a charm, just tried it Yesterday! No problems so far. Waiting to update my environment however. Two reasons:
    1. Licenses
    2. Compatibility with application suites like View and Lab Manager

    The fun of using a usb-stick is that you can easily switch between versions (not live of course and given you’ve seperate storage available for both environments).

  8. PJM

    I just tried installing ESXi 4 on a base T105 (after having the same problems as others with 3.5). Install works now but on reboot after install system hangs on sata_nv.

  9. franco

    i also try it on a t105 with esxi4. sata_nv will hang. but maybe i can change the oem.tgz in the iso file, with a oem.tgz who works with this sata controller 🙂 i will give u feedback. cheers

  10. Terry

    I’ve been running ESXi 4 64bit on 2 Dell t105s for about 9 months now with out any problems. Installing it on 2 SATA hard drives in a hardware mirror. Just recently I’ve started having problems with 1 of the 2 servers and the V/M are unresponsive and when I try to use the VSphere client to manage the V/Ms then the client becomes unresposive but I can still ping the host. I have to force a shutdown & restart then the V/M run fine for about 24hr before it starts over again.

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