Saturday, 1 August 2009

vSphere Service Console and Partitioning

After doing some work on vSphere builds in the lab It looks as though you cannot specify the desired size of a VMFS partition when installing Vsphere via a manual deployment from CD.

Previous versions of ESX held the /Boot within the RHEL formatted disk partition's. Vsphere differs, it now has the Service Console stored within a VMDK which can be either held on a local VMFS partition or from a Shared Storage VMFS LUN. Some of the advantages to this include;

From my current observations when performing a manual install of Vsphere from DVD/ISO it formats under a extended partition all of the complete spare disk space with VMFS to cater for the Service Console VMDK partition.

The Problem

So why is this a problem? In most environments it wont be, however If you want to ensure you have freedom to partition and to keep the Service Console on a seperate VMFS partition away from VM's on a local VMFS volume then it will not be possible by manual install.

The Solution

The only way I have been able to acheive creating manual partitions is with building a customised Kickstart Configuration File. Vsphere again appears to have changed on this front, in previous versions you created a KS by downloading from the ESX web sites, again a difference in Vsphere is the easiest way I found of building a KS file was to build the ESX host from CD first and then grab the KS.CFG file from /Root, I then edited this file with the relevant parameters for storage with the following;

part '/boot' --fstype=ext3 --size=1100 --onfirstdisk
part 'none' --fstype=vmkcore --size=110 --onfirstdisk
part 'Storage1' --fstype=vmfs3 --size=15000 --onfirstdiskvirtualdisk 'esxconsole' --size=7804 --onvmfs='Storage1' part 'swap' --fstype=swap --size=800 --onvirtualdisk='esxconsole'
part '/var/log' --fstype=ext3 --size=2000 --onvirtualdisk='esxconsole'part '/' --fstype=ext3 --size=5000 --grow -onvirtualdisk='esxconsole'

Word of advice in any of the preincarnations of ESX it was always best practice when building ESX to either physically disconnect your connectivity to shared storage on an ESX OR remove any zoning to the SAN. This again is something I strongly recommend you do, if you don't you may hose a complete VMFS lun.

Hope this helps and anyone from VMware can shed some of the benefits of using a VMDK for the Service Console now are set aside the obvious ones.

Good morning,

I am working though a ks.cfg and it keeps throwing errors on the partitioning stage.

part '/boot' --fstype=ext3 --size=1100 --onfirstdisk
part 'none' --fstype=vmkcore --size=110 --onfirstdisk
part 'Essex02' --fstype=vmfs3 --size=15000 --onfirstdiskvirtualdisk 'esxconsole' --size=7804 --onvmfs='Essex02'
part 'swap' --fstype=swap --size=800 --onvirtualdisk='esxconsole'
part '/var/log' --fstype=ext3 --size=2000 --onvirtualdisk='esxconsole'
part '/' --fstype=ext3 --size=5000 --grow -onvirtualdisk='esxconsole'

I does not like the onfirstdiskvirtualdisk, esxconsole, --onvmf=. Also it states that ondisk or onvirtualdisk is required but not found.

Any suggestions or assistance would be greatly appreciated.

bmroczek at redw dot com

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