I had an Evernote page filled with links of possible solutions to my VMWare ESXi hardware compatibility problems. I found posts detailing how ICH8 and Marvell onboard NIC compatibility issues were addressed with custom oem.tgz files for ESXi 4. I was hoping to adapt them for ESXi 5 but unfortunately that didn’t pan out at all.
I discovered ESXi 5 introduced a new driver format; drivers now need to come in a VIB format. Unfortunately due to the age of the hardware, no one has bothered to provide VIB support for ICH8 or older Marvell chipsets.
So where does this leave me? I could get everything working with VMWare ESXi 5 if I bought a new compatible PCI-E storage controller and a new gigabit card. The downside is that I have to spend over $125 to get compatible hardware and I’m not willing to spend more money on this server. I already gave it more RAM and a Core 2 Quad Q9300.
From a software standpoint I could install Windows Server 2012 and just use Storage Spaces or FlexRaid. However, I’m weary about using Storage Spaces and FlexRaid costs $60 for a complete license.
I could also go down the Type 2 hypervisor path and use VMWare Player/Workstation or Oracle VirtualBox on top of Windows Server 2012. Then as I was reviewing virtualization solutions, I recalled Microsoft had its own: Hyper V which is apparently a Type 1 hypervisor like ESXi.
Windows Server 2012 supports Hyper V so there’s no additional cost on that front. It also supports UNIX guest operating systems running FreeBSD 9 or above which means NAS4Free should work just fine. I wish I could test it on my current homeserver but I cannot even install the role due to the lack of VT-d support. I will need to wait for the Q9300 processor and new home server before I could proceed.
There will be more waiting before this home server solution is realized.