This awesome machine was built for the sole purpose of serving as a powerhouse for enterprise use cases, even the giant Google is using a special rebranded variant of that Dell server model at their data centers.
Today, I decided to utilize all my server resources for virtualization where I can host as many operating systems as I wish with whatever software or service I desire. Thus, I am going to install the famous VMware ESXi 6.7 U3 hypervisor and explain every step on this article.
Get DellEMC Customized Image for VMware ESXi 6.7 U3Now, even though the R720 is not officially supported by this new image, trust my word that it will work perfectly on this server especially for a homelab user. The only disadvantage is that you are not getting official support from Dell which can only concern enterprise users. Just scroll down to find the download link for the
ISO Imageand get that.
Flash Installation ImageEven though you can typically burn the ISO file into a DVD as the server has a drive for it. I would suggest that you use a USB flash memory stick which is more convenient at least in my opinion. So, we're going to use a small utility called Rufus, visit their website and grab your link.
- Insert the flash device into your machine.
- Select your installation media under "Device" where in my case it was a 8GB USB flash memory.
- Select "MBR" partition scheme.
- Choose "BIOS or UEFI" as your target system.
Boot Installation Media on Dell R720 ServerFirst of all, I prefer installing the VMware hypervisor into the internal USB flash port not to be confused with the installation media itself. If you open the top cover you will find a USB port inside the case near the power supply housing on the motherboard where you can insert a flash drive.
This way we will avoid wasting a whole hard drive to contain solely the hypervisor itself. I will bring a spare USB flash to be permanently attached to the internal USB port where I will install the hypervisor to it after booting to the installation media that we just prepared.
- Insert the installation flash drive into the front USB port then power on your R720 server.
- Wait for the system to boot then press "F11" to enter the "UEFI Boot Manager".
- On the "Boot Manager Main Menu" select "UEFI Boot Menu".
- From the boot options appearing on your screen select "Disk Connected to front USB".
Install VMware ESXi HypervisorWell, nothing too fancy here when you get into the installation screen just follow the dialogs and accept the terms and conditions. What is important is that when it asks you
Select a Disk to install or upgradeplease make sure to choose the internal USB drive or whatever else you want to put the hypervisor on.
After that, it will ask you about your preferred "Keyboard Layout" configuration and then you will be presented with a dialog to set your root password which will be used mainly to enter the management interface, that's all.
Please make sure to remove your installation media after it finishes, it will ask you to do so anyway before rebooting the system.
Network Configuration for Management InterfaceThe first thing I would do on my first boot is configuring a static IP address which will make the web management interface for that server much easier to reach on my internal network. Now, if you have done any configuration it will automatically defaults to
DHCPbut I don't want that.
To manually configure the network interface:
- Press "F2" to enter the system customization menu from the host machine.
- Authenticate yourself by entering the same password that you have specified for root during he installation.
- Select "Configure Management Network".
IPv4 Configurationthen I ticked "Set static IPv4 address" and enter my network configuration. I set it up on an IP address of
10.0.0.200since this is the main subnet on my homelab network.
Finally, you can save configuration then logout.
Final ThoughtsI should now be able to reach my management interface for that hypervisor host server on this address
https://10.0.0.200, so let me enter this on my browser.
Yes success! I am welcomed with a login screen, I entered "root" as the username and the password that I have set during the installation. Let me learn more about it and then I will be back to share my experience.