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New N54L, help with ESXi, RAID, and HDs, oh my!


devryguy81
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Hi all. I have the N54L loaded up with 16GB RAM, 4x160GB HDs and the 1 250GB that comes with it. I loaded ESXi 5.1 from a USB key and began installing VMs. Because ESXi doesn't see the "fake" software RAID, I resorted to installing 1 OS per HD just to get up and running so I could play around. How might I better configure things so that I can take advantage of RAID and run a small test network (Server 2008 R2 / Win7 / WinXP). I have 5 VMs right now. Is there also a way I can retain my current VMs after reconfiguring the storage?

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Hi jmwills,

 

In fact the BIOS does not see the RAID from the N54L.  A shame, too, because this cheap little box is starting to get expensive if I end up adding a decent RAID card and multi-port NIC!  I am completely new to virtualization, and still don't fully have my brain wrapped around it.  (I get the concept, but the practice is a little lacking.)  ESXi sees all of my individual HDs, of which there are five, as places to create datastores.  Because I wanted to start playing right away, I just created a datastore on each physical drive and then set up each guest OS on its own drive.  I know that is not the right way to do it, but without the ability to properly use the on-board RAID I didn't know what the best way to proceed was. 

 

My intention with this box is to set up a home lab for domain-based network testing and to also get familiar with virtualization.  I set up two domain controllers, a member server (all 2008 R2), a Windows 7 Ultimate, and a Windows XP guest so I could simulate the bare minimum basic network to play around with.

 

I guess what I am really getting at is I am good with the theory, but my creativity to put it into practice needs some work.  I am looking for recommendations to make the most of this little box and learn as I go.  I hope I gave you valuable information instead of rambling!

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Did you "mod the BIOS"?  If so, the on board RAID is lost.  Unless the Hardware is VMware approved, ESXi will not see the RAID, just individual stores like you see now.

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You could run a Freenas Instance in VMWARE off another USB stick, pool the 4 drives into a RAIDZ and point it to the vmware install as an iSCSI target. 

 

Kinda ghetto but could work.

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Since I can't use the on-board RAID with ESXi anyway, what are my gains from flashing the BIOS with the modded version?

 

I have also been looking at Newegg at various RAID cards and NICs.

 

Dual-port Gig NIC = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833268002

Originally looked at = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833106014

 

RAID Card Opt. 1 = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101358

RAID Card Opt. 2 = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118114

 

Does anyone have opinions on whether these options are good choices and if the more expensive versions would be worth the money?

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Since I can't use the on-board RAID with ESXi anyway, what are my gains from flashing the BIOS with the modded version?

 

I have also been looking at Newegg at various RAID cards and NICs.

 

Dual-port Gig NIC = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833268002

Originally looked at = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833106014

 

RAID Card Opt. 1 = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816101358

RAID Card Opt. 2 = http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118114

 

 

Does anyone have opinions on whether these options are good choices and if the more expensive versions would be worth the money?

You only have a x16 slot and a x1 slot, so you cant have a RAID card and a dual nic.

Vmware is touchy, as recommended above you need to pick peripherals that are approved;

http://www.vmware.com/resources/compatibility/search.php?pc=conduit&ptag=ADE7BA551541340B0B5F&form=CONOMX&conlogo=CT3210127&ShowAppsUI=1

Raid option one; I think this is just a 8 port SAS/SATA card, no raid.

Raid option two; The LSI is a real RAID card, but it only supports RAID 0 or 1 

I use the HP P410, it is listed in the guide. You can find them on Ebay for under $150 with cache and battery. 

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Hi Devryguy81 and welcome to the Forums.
 

To get “better RAID support” you may want to look at the HP P410 that several are using on the forums.  I’d suggest searching for their various postings about their setups – I wouldn’t get any card without first confirming to your satisfaction that it will do what you want with Linux.

 

There’s additional useful Info in the 1st post in the thread “MicroServer Hardware Links” about the P410 and other cards so I will not repeat them all here.

 

Near the bottom of the 1st post in the thread “More Interesting MicroServer Links” are some links to outside postings on how people have set up their home ESXi – vSphere labs – and some are using the P410 and other cards. 

 

 



 

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I saw several P410 cards with BBWC on eBay for $150+.  There were also some P400 cards for waaaay less.  What is the big difference in the two cards?

 

Second question:

 

If I were to get a proper RAID card for my N54L, what is my "ideal" way to setup the storage to run 5 VMs and have a storage pool?  I want to get the most efficient and most production-like setup as possible to begin learning, but I need some pushes in the right direction.

 

Thanks.

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