This is a series of three posts where I share my own experience and what I’ve learned as a first time Pi user, by turning it into a VMWare’s ESXi host.
Part 2 covers the ESXi installation.
Raspberry Pi assembled. ESXi installed. And now you are asking yourself what’s next?
Well, depending on what kind of a Pi you have and how many you have, there’s a couple of choices.
Like in my case, if you have only one with 4GB of RAM, you could create 3 virtual machines, and probably you could run at least 2 at the same time, depending on how you allocated resources. If you have more than one Pi, at least one with 8GB of RAM and already have a vCenter set up, you could add the hosts there and practice features like vMotion, clustering, DRS.
But to start, let’s actually create some virtual machines. Unfortunately, it looks like an installation of a WIndows OS is not officially possible at the moment. Despite that, there have been users on Reddit trying it out, in an unofficial manner.
Even so, there are plenty of official Linux distributions for ARM that could serve the purpose for our ARM processor in the Pi.
Installing Raspberry Pi OS
Since the Raspberry Pi OS is already optimized to run on an ARM based computer, why shouldn’t it work in an ESXi Pi?
It does work! Even though the installation process requires some tweaks here and there, it’s still something you can pull off in about 30 min. A great guide on how to do this was published already, but I did feel it lacked a little bit of additional explanation in the start, especially if you haven’t dealt before with these types of setup.
- Before step 1, install Qemu-img utility on your Windows
Follow this video until 1m and 52s and then run the command:
qemu-img.exe convert -f raw 2020–05–27-raspios-buster-arm64.img -O vmdk 2020–05–27-raspios-buster-arm64.vmdk
- Before step 5, try enabling SSH for your ESXi host and download/install the Putty client. Then as the guide requests, create an SSH session to the ESXi host, with it’s IP address:
- The whole process looked like this for me:
As specifically emphasized by VMware, the ESXi on Pi is purely for experimental purposes.
This makes it a pretty decent option for a low cost home lab for anyone interested in tinkering with electronics, in need of a virtualization training environment or just access to different kinds of operating systems.
If you’d like to know more about the backstage history on the ESXi for ARM development, do check this comprehensive article on that topic.