Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Got the machine up and running today.
MB: Biostar TA785G3 HD (Version 5.0)
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1 GHz | Cooler: stock
RAM: 2x 2 GB A-DATA DDR3-1333, stock settings
HDD: 2x 250 GB 5400 RPM Hitachi Travelstar Z5K320 2.5" (SATA II), AHCI mode
LAN: Realtek 8111DL (working with OEM.TGZ found here
BIOS: not the latest, update will be done soon.
Boot drive: Transcend JetFlash 4GB USB 2.0 pendrive
Misc: Cool-n-Quiet enabled, ESXi power policy set to balanced.
The machine is running fine so far, very quiet despite using the stock heatsink and cooler. Fan control is set to "Quiet" in BIOS, resulting in fan speed of ~2000 rpm at idle. I disabled unnecessary stuff (floppy, sound, serial, parallel) in BIOS and made sure SATA was set to AHCI.
I see your system shows ~3800 MB of memory even though you have 4 GB. This is due to the on-board GPU using some of the RAM. You can safely limit this to 32 MB in the BIOS as you don't need a fancy GPU on the ESXi host anyway. I've done this too and ESXi can now access 4064 MB. Sideport memory can be disabled too. It's even possible to set the GPU's memory to Disabled, leaving everything to ESXi. I haven't tried it yet , in fear of not having a picture anymore then. The board does have a "Headless mode" option so it could be worth a try.
Regarding the Realtek NIC, it's been working so far (installing XP and Server 2003, copying ~2 GB worth of ISOs to the ESXi host).
However, I lost the connection once several minutes after setting up ESXi for the first time using the vSphere client and had to replug the cable. Since then, no issues but we'll see.
Still, if those issues persist I'll consider adding an Intel NIC.
As for my install method: I didn't use ESXi's install program at all. I simply extracted the OS image from the 4.1 ISO and wrote it directly to the flash drive using dd. By doing so, I ruled out the install program as a possible problem and also eliminated the need for two separate media (source and target drive). I plugged the prepared drive into the box after that and ESXi booted right up, just as it would have when installed regularly. I then configured the management network and was up and running.
Regarding your VMware Server setup, if you migrate the XP install it is installed on, it will end up inside the new VM if I understand things correctly. So you'd then have to get them out of there first to be able to use them with ESXi – or run VMware Server within ESXi.
As for hard drives, I am using two 2.5" drives for silence and will be distributing the VMs across them to share the load. I created two separate data stores.
If you – or someone else – happen to have any questions, feel free to shoot them at me.