A little under a week ago Kit Colbert posted here, the announcement of the new Community ESXi-Arm fling. This has been an ongoing waiting game since I believe the days of VMworld 2018 when we could be in another country and amongst fellow community members. Well it looks like the team are well on the way to cracking the code and getting something out there in the form of a fling is a great way and a way I have loved from VMware over the years to introduce their early access of ideas and products out to the community for feedback and some testing.
Or as Kit states “A Fling is a VMware program sponsored through the Office of the CTO designed to offer early stage software to the VMware Community”
Ok so I was obviously interested and decided to grab the bits to install on one or more of my RaspberryPis. I have a little addiction for the mini computers for both home schooling ideas and home automation, the home schooling in particular has been top of mind during the pandemic and sharing this far and wide to help people that maybe do not have the funds available to purchase full blown laptops and tablets for home schooling. I mentioned more on this here.
Ok let’s get into this on how we get things up and running.
First of all you will need the fling which is available here.
Grab the ISO and grab the pdf relevant to the device you are using, outside of these devices my advice is either choose one similar and give it a test and feedback on this very site under the comments tab on your findings and maybe even contribute to the pdf for that configuration. The download will require a MyVMware authentication.
I think most people would use the RaspberryPi or similar device alongside HDMI connected monitor, Keyboard and Mouse. This is the way in which I configured and setup my first host, however in the PDFs listed above there are ways in which to use serial console.
Firstly, my setup consists of the following:
The Raspberry Pi 4 this is the 8GB variant and the most powerful Raspberry Pi yet! You can get this in smaller RAM variants (2GB and 4GB) and this fling will work on the 4GB but not supported on lower RAM systems.
A 16GB Class 10 A1 MicroSD, this is by far not needed in regard to speed or capacity, you need the SD card really only for the UEFI boot configuration. This is what I had handy though.
Official Raspberry Pi 4 case, again not required at all but it came part of a kit that all of this listed here was made up of, the cost of the kit was £100 from the Pi Hut. (No Affiliation)
Raspberry Pi micro-HDMI cable connects your Raspberry Pi to any HDMI screen or monitor. The cable is micro-HDMI to HDMI, so no adapters are required!
Raspberry Pi Power Supply, the most important part of this setup is a good power supply, in fact I would suggest this to any Raspberry Pi project, just get the official ones you know it will work and you will never have to worry about having those bad USB cables you picked up at conferences and causing you headaches on these little projects.
As I said in the descriptions above this was a kit and you can pick that kit up and be sure that this will work on there. You will also need a few other things.
- USB Drives x 2 – One for the Fling ISO you just downloaded and the other for where you are going to run ESXi-ARM.
- Keyboard and Mouse
- Network cable and accessible network switch port on router or switch.
The final thing I will mention here is you need some where to store any running VMs you wish to run on your new ESXi-ARM hypervisor, I am using a 100GB LUN presented from my NETGEAR ReadyNAS to provide this and it was seamless in terms of connection, well it was the same as connecting to any other ESXi host.
I will also add that although I have provided the kit and additional hardware I have for my setup, the PDF downloaded with the fling also contains alternatives that could be used.
A few more steps
Just a few more steps here before we start seeing the familiar sights of VMware and ESXi setup screens, the next step is to confirm that we are running the correct EEPROM on our RaspberryPi, if you do buy the kit above this is super easy as the SD card is already configured with the Raspberry Pi OS and when you connect everything up it will boot and you can run the following commands with ease.
If not and you have a blank SD card, then we need to get that Raspberry Pi OS on that SD and then into your Raspberry Pi to perform the same checks below. You will find the relevant Raspberry Pi Imager for your specific Operating System here.
When you get into Raspberry Pi OS my suggestion is always to run an update, even though you are not intending to use this image on the SD this is only being used to check the EEPROM. When you have ran the update open a terminal window and run the following command.
The current and latest should match if everything is up to date if the latest is different i.e in the future then you will need to run the following command
Sudo rpi-eeprom-update -a
Then once complete reboot the system and run the first command again to confirm everything is now updated.
When happy that all is looking good then shutdown the Pi.
Super straight forward so far but we have not really got to the playground side of things, I will have part 2 up very soon to walk through the getting the UEFI boot ready, ESXi-ARM installed and then some next steps that I went on to “Play” with.