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 Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works 
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:56 am
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Post Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Biostar TA785G3HD (here)
AMD Athlon II X3 445 (unlocked as Phenon II X4 B45)
G.Skill 1x4GB DDR2 F3-12800CL9S-4GBRL
MB really does support 16GB max.
Ram running at stock speed 1333.
Onboard gpu: ATI Radeon HD 4200
North Bridge AMD 785G
South Bridge AMD SB710
Sata 3Gb/s: 6
Set AHCI in bios before any tests.
Virtualization supported on MB.
LAN Chipset Realtek 8111DL (working) Edit: 12/21/2010: I have disabled the Realtek adapter due to many messages in the log.
Also tested Intel Pro/1000 MT (worked)
Bios: 88GBP708.BST (7/8/2010)
Biostar support page here
ACC settings that worked are here

ESXi 4.0 fresh install tested:
I was able to install both by CD and flash drive onto either flash drive or IDE drive. Upgraded to 4.1 no problem.

ESXi 4.1 fresh install tested:
Was able to install from CD only onto flash drive or IDE drive. I got the onboard Realtek nic working by adding prepared oem.tgz as others have.
USB passthough to VM is working.

I'm using one Seagate 500GB connected to onboard sata port.
Raid not tested.

One nice thing is that in Biostar bios you can select a single flash drive for booting from and disable booting from any other device. That way it remembers to boot from your flash drive no matter what other storage devices are added later.

I'm using Cooler Master Vortex Plus cpu heatsink. It keeps the quad very cool (47c), quietly while I ran prime95. This heatsink on this MB doesn't cover or interfer with G.Skill ripjaws even on nearest ram slot.

EDIT 12-3-2010
Quote:
I have upgraded the ram to 16GB so now I'm running 4 sticks of F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL. 15 hours of memtest86+ with zero errors.
I have also added two network adapters.
1 x Intel Pro/1000 MT Dual Port Server Adapter (PCI-X)
1 x Intel Pro/1000 MT Desktop Adapter (PCI)

Note: The dual PCI-X adapter operates as 32bit PCI card when installed in a PCI slot. There has to be room for the extra couple of inches of board that hangs past the end of the PCI slot. One of the Biostar mobo's PCI slots has a heatsink behind it but one is clear so one PCI-X card can be used. I now have 4 nic connections with 2 on the dual Intel adapter, 1 onboard Realtek and 1 single Intel adapter.


Attachments:
ESXi Summary.jpg
ESXi Summary.jpg [ 81.56 KiB | Viewed 6046 times ]


Last edited by targus on Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:07 am, edited 6 times in total.

Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:56 am
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Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:58 pm
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Post Re: ESXi 4.1 works on Biostar TA785G3 HD
Hello,

thanks for your post. I'll build a whitebox with the same motherboard, albeit with an X2 255 CPU and slightly different components. Thus, I would like to know if ESXi runs reliably. Is it stable? What VMs are you running on it and have you run into any problems?

I've prepared a bootable USB flash drive by writing the ESXi 4.1 image directly onto it so will be able to boot the new system right away, with no installation necessary. Which OEM.TGZ did you use for the on-board NIC as there are several around here?

Where did you install ESXi? USB drive or IDE drive? For USB, can you boot ESXi 4.1 from the flash drive?

Thanks in advance for your answer!


Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:08 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:56 am
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Post Re: ESXi 4.1 works on Biostar TA785G3 HD
Amethyst wrote:
Hello,
I would like to know if ESXi runs reliably. Is it stable? What VMs are you running on it and have you run into any problems?

It's running very stable. No glitches, errors or crashes whatsoever.
I'm currently running Ubuntu 10.10 and Win2k VM's. I'm getting ready to convert a physical WinXP running VMware Server with 3 VM's of it's own to run Virtual on this hypervisor.

Amethyst wrote:
Which OEM.TGZ did you use for the on-board NIC as there are several around here?


Rebuilding the ESXi 4.1 ISO to include Realtek 8111,8168 drivers.
Lots of hunting and pecking brought me to Engwar's VMware ESXi on Realtek NIC page. The short version of the rebuild story is it takes 4 files, 3 of which you get from Engvar's page. You put these 4 files in a single directory on a linux machine. One is a bash script. You run the script. It asks lots of questions and I took all the defaults. The script outputs the new customized ESXi ISO and you install from it. That's all there is to it. It's working for me.
From Engwar:
mkesxiaio_4.0.sh
inetd.conf
RTL8111_8168_P55_integr_SATA_Ctrl.(AHCI).oem.tgz
From VMware:
VMware-VMvisor-Installer-4.1.0-260247.x86_64.iso

Engwar's script output a file called and I used it to install ESXi:
VMware_esxi_custom_4.1_wget_rsync_sftp_ftp_RTL8111_8168_P55_integr_SATA_Ctrl.(AHCI).oem.iso

Additional: http://lime-technology.com/forum/index. ... 8#msg80758

Amethyst wrote:
Where did you install ESXi? USB drive or IDE drive? For USB, can you boot ESXi 4.1 from the flash drive?


I installed onto a USB flash drive, so yes it's booting from flash.


Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:30 pm
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Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:13 pm
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Quote:
Engwar's script output a file called and I used it to install ESXi:


The script was actually created by Varazir :)

_________________
Dave Mishchenko
VMware vExpert 2009-2013
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Now available - VMware ESXi: Planning, Implementation, and Security
Also available - vSphere Quick Start Guide


Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:29 pm
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Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:58 pm
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
targus wrote:
I'm currently running Ubuntu 10.10 and Win2k VM's. I'm getting ready to convert a physical WinXP running VMware Server with 3 VM's of it's own to run Virtual on this hypervisor.

Thanks for your answer. I assume this is using the on-board Realtek NIC? As for the VMware Server install, are you going to run it nested, within ESXi? I'm going to run Windows NT 4.0 to 2008 as well as several Linux distros.

As for the NIC, that was the file I considered, so thanks. Does this driver work well for you then, with no disconnects or errors after a few minutes? It seems many are experiencing this kind of issue, with the 8169 driver apparently improving things, so I'm prepared to try both (or stick an Intel Pro/1000 in there in case they fail).

Are the on-board SATA ports recognized out of the box once set to AHCI?

I have already dd'd the ESXi image to a flash drive myself and can boot the hypervisor from there on another system, so presumably all I have to do is add the respective oem.tgz file to get the NIC working ('ll activate wget etc. later).


Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:38 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:56 am
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Amethyst wrote:
[Thanks for your answer. I assume this is using the on-board Realtek NIC?

Yes. After a couple weeks went by using the Realtek, I have decided I want two nic's so I also added an Intel Pro/1000 MT nic. All that was needed to add the second nic was to power down, install and power up. Then I created the new network in ESXi. I'm going to have one nic on my internal lan and one on the DMZ. I'm keeping the managment console and some VM's on the Realtek adapter.

Amethyst wrote:
As for the VMware Server install, are you going to run it nested, within ESXi?

I would like to try that migrating it nested. I'm not sure how that conversion will look on ESXi. It might be that the VMware Server's VM's will be at an equal level or it might occur that they are inside the newly virtualized WinXP hard drive. I'd like to know in advance. I've thought about just migrating the WinXP's VM's but that WinXP and the VMware Server on it are configured (over lots of time) to create an environment for the VM's and also there is a scheduled job on the WinXP that shuts down it's VM's and copies them in whole to a back up server.
I'm not experienced enough with ESXi yet to replicate the environment so migrating nested may be the safest and easiest way for me to proceed.

EDIT: I ended up migrating just the Win2k VM's. I installed the VMware converter on the Winxp machine and it would lock up at the end of every convertion. What a pain. The VM's finished even though the source machine would lock up and have to be rebooted. They are all running on ESXi now.


Amethyst wrote:
Does this driver work well for you then, with no disconnects or errors after a few minutes? It seems many are experiencing this kind of issue, with the 8169 driver apparently improving things, so I'm prepared to try both (or stick an Intel Pro/1000 in there in case they fail).

I also read that some were having problems. I haven't experienced a single issue with regards to the Realtek nic.

Amethyst wrote:
Are the on-board SATA ports recognized out of the box once set to AHCI?

I have 1 sata HD (Seagate 7200.11 500GB) installed so far and it was detected by ESXi automatically.

Amethyst wrote:
I have already dd'd the ESXi image to a flash drive myself and can boot the hypervisor from there on another system, so presumably all I have to do is add the respective oem.tgz file to get the NIC working ('ll activate wget etc. later).

I was able to install 4.0 from flash but not 4.1. I had to install 4.1 from CD. It was very frustrating. Even trying to install from USB connected CD didn't work. In the end I installed the very old CD/DVD drive in my ESXi machine and installed 4.1 using it.

If you install using any procedure that differ from what I used PLEASE describe them in detail here in this thread. There are lots of us linux novices that have difficulty digging though obscure threads trying to piece together working procedures. :)


Last edited by targus on Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:11 pm
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Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:58 pm
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Got the machine up and running today.

Specs:

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
CD: None
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.

@targus:

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. :)


Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:36 am
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Update: The onboard GPU can be turned off by setting "Chipset -> NorthBridge Configuration -> Internal Graphics Configuration -> Internal Graphics Mode" to Disabled. The machine still runs ESXi fine and it can now use all the RAM. (Of course, you won't see anything on a screen attached to the machine anymore after doing this.)


Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:10 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:56 am
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
Amethyst wrote:
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.

What/How did you go about doing this?

Amethyst wrote:
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.


Once I convert the XP installation to a VM, I want the VMware Server to stay inside the XP VM. The VMware Server is hosting 3 full time Win2k VM's. I want them to stay that way.

So there will be 3 ESXi.XP.VMserver(Win2k) VM's. But I want their virtual hard drives to be at the level of ESXi.Datastore and not be inside the ESXi.XP virtual hard drive.

Actually now that I think about it I only did it that way because VMware Server provided a console view of the Win2k VM's because at the time I couldn't remote into Win2k. So the private networks between the 3 VM's evolved on the XP host side and a backup strategy run as a scheduled job that shuts all 3 down and runs Cobian Backup on the XP machine.


Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:04 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:56 am
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Post Re: Biostar TA785G3 HD - ESXi 4.1 works
targus wrote:
Amethyst wrote:
Amethyst wrote:
Does this driver work well for you then, with no disconnects or errors after a few minutes? It seems many are experiencing this kind of issue, with the 8169 driver apparently improving things, so I'm prepared to try both (or stick an Intel Pro/1000 in there in case they fail).

I also read that some were having problems. I haven't experienced a single issue with regards to the Realtek nic.



It's been several weeks but I've had a connection problem. It may be coincidence that it's the onboard nic or it may be because I'm using this on a home network. However, I don't think it is the fault of the onboard nic driver. After looking closely by logging in to the console I noticed that the IP was unassigned and that the Gateway address was 192.168.1.254. My setup is in a home network so my physical router's address is 192.168.1.1 and so the gateway would be the same. I had set the DNS address in ESXi to 192.168.1.1 and it's using DHCP so it should have been able to get an IP address.
The hint was the Gateway address...where's this 192.168.1.254 come from? So what I did then was to set ESXi's Management Network IP to static instead of DHCP and that allowed me to set the Gateway IP address to 192.168.1.1 which as I said before is my physical router. The connection is working and I tried a couple reboots just to test it out.
So, not knowing what the problem is for certain, but it seems that ESXi has a problem with either the onboard nic (Realtec) when using DHCP or it has a problem with non-class C networks (like home networks) that just happen to use 192.168.1.* addresses.
The work around is to set ESXi Management Network to static IP and I've not experienced any side effects from doing that so far.


EDIT: The disconnect problem was a misdiagnosis. What was actually happening was I have a wireless router in my network and it was improperly set to be a DHCP provider. It was supposed to be set to allow my main router to provide all DHCP services. So what was happening was that sometimes any given PC in my network was looking to my main router and other times was looking at the wireless router. That caused the IP addresses to change making it appear as though the ESXi management network disconnected.


Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:36 pm
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