Run a virtual ESXi 5 in VMware ESXi 5

I now have a (quite) powerfull server: Intel Core i5 with 4 cores and 16GB of RAM. I want to virtualize as many things as possible. So I installed the free VMware ESXi 5 on the physical server and started populating it with virtual machines. I have a main virtual machine that has been P2Ved and run on the local storage of the ESXi. Then I have a virtual Nexenta that accesses some raw disks of the physical server to populate the storage.

This is how to install and run a virtual ESXi 5.0.0 inside a physical ESXi 5.0.0 instance.

Enable nested VT

By default, the ESXi is not able to run 64bit virtual machines. However, this is possible, assuming you own a core i3 or better processor, by enabling nested VT. To do so, you’ll have to log on to the physical ESXi, using SSH, and configure some parameters:

~ # vi /etc/vmware/config (...) vhv.allow = "TRUE" (...)

And that’s all ; no need to reboot the physical ESXi. All you have to do is start the 64bit VMs.

Configure the ESXi virtual machine

From the vSphere client, create a new virtual machine.

From the “Configuration” dialog box, select the “Custom” option. Use the “Virtual Machine Version: 8” virtual hardware. Select the “Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (64-bit)” template version from the “Linux” Guest Operating System section. Configure CPU, memory and network as wished. Network interface have to be “E1000” or “E1000E” ; “VMXNET 3” won’t be recognised. SCSI controller type have to be “LSI Logic SAS” or “LSI Logic Parallel” ; “VMware Paravirtual” won’t be recognized. As for disk configuration, thin provisioning worked for me.

At the “Ready to Complete” step, don’t check the “Edit the virtual machine settings before completion” option ; we need to create the VM before being able to do the magic.

When the virtual ESXi is created, edit its settings. Select the “General Options” from the “Options” tab. In the “Guest Operating System” zone, select “Other / VMware ESXi 5.x”. Select the “Use Intel VT-x/AMD-v for instruction set virtualization and Intel EPT/AMD RVI for MMU virtualization” option from the “CPU/MMU Virtualization” parameter.

Install and run the virtual ESXi

Once the VM is ready, attach the installation ISO to the VM and run the installation wizard.

Getting no warning about 64bit absence or CPU virtualization feature will be the sign of success.

The virtual ESXi can then be managed as any physical one.

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