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Working in IT I come across old and retired servers all the time. Most of the time these are junk systems too outdated to run anything in a test environment let alone a production enterprise. This eWaste is for the most part destine to become metallic dust like seen here. However lately I have been curious about running an ESXi host and running multiple servers. In this series I will document the salvation of an old system into a VMware ESXi lab.

One day while rummaging through our eWaste pile I found a Dell Precision 490. While not a true server, this powerful workstation can easily become a small workhorse capable of running ESXi and a few small lab Virtual Machines (VM).


Manufacturer Dell Inc.
Model Precision 490
CPU Cores 4 CPUs x 2.33GHz
Processor Type Intel Xeon CPU 5140 @ 2.33GHz
RAID Card Dell SAS 5/iR Adapter
HHD 2 x 136 GB 15K RPM
RAID RAID 0 (Stripe)
ESXi Version 5.1
USB 8 GB Flash Drive

ESXi Install

ESXi is a free hypervisor that you can get through VMware. The trial they give you is valid for 60 days. After 60 days the server will still run but with limited functionality. I installed the image onto a USB flash drive. The reasoning behind this was that once ESXi is loaded into the system memory it doesn’t require a lot of read and writing. Having it boot off the usb also saved space on my storage array. The install is quick and fairly straight forward. The Geek Stuff has a nice tutorial on it here.

After installing ESXi and configuring your IP address you can remove the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. All administration from this point will be done remotely.

vSphere Setup

Once your ESXi host is installed you can start to configure and create your VMs. To begin log into your normal computer. Make sure it is on the same network as the ESXi host. Open your web browser and type the IP address of the ESXi host in the address field. This will bring to a web page on the ESXi host where you can download the vSphere client.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.35.01 PM


Once the download finishes, roughly 330MB, run the install as you normally would. Launch the application and enter the ESXi host’s IP address, “root” for the username, and the root password.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.43.14 PM

Enable SSH

You’ll want to enable SSH on the ESXi host just in case you need to manage the console. This will help save some time if things go astray and you don’t want to bring out the keyboard and monitor again. You can turn this on through vSphere. In vSphere select your ESXi Host > Configuration Tab > Security Profile > Properties > ESXi Shell and SSH. Start these services shown in the picture.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 9.57.34 PM

Now on your system you can connect to the host. I suggest Putty for PC’s and Terminal on Macs. Typical command to connect is:


It will ask you for the password and then you’ll be ready to start managing the console if you need.

At this point your initial setup of the ESXi host is complete. You can start dialing in all your settings and begin creating your VMs. I will continue to post as I create and explore the features of ESX and vSphere.

Series NavigationESXi Host Configuration Through vSphere >>

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One thought on “ESXi Project Introduction

  1. Reply Peter Muia December 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Danny
    I came across this web site, for I was searching if Dell Precision 490 (Intel Xeon) Model DCTA can be used to install ESXi 6.
    I have searched via HCL on VMware site & their is no info if I can install ESXi
    Can you help with links to this info

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