Installing Fedora 21 and ESXi 5.5 on my new Shuttle DS81

By | 7 March 2015

As I previously wrote, I recently assembled a new workstation for the home lab that I will be using as both a Linux and ESXi host. I’ll be using it as an admin workstation while not traveling (Linux) and then leave it running as a hypervisor in my lab while I’m on the road (ESXi).

Installing ESXi:
Since I had a few other ESXi hosts on the network, this install was very easy. I put one of my other hosts into maintenance mode and shut it down. I then took the USB stick that has the ESXi install on it and cloned it. My existing ESXi usb disk was /dev/sdd below and the new ESXi install disk was /dev/sdc. This only works if you are using the same size disk (or if the newer disk is a larger size). Here are the steps I used (as always, PLEASE be careful with dd. It can erase your hard drive if you are not careful!).

sudo dd if=/dev/sdd of=/home/chris/esxi.img bs=1M
sudo dd if=/home/chris/esxi.img of=/dev/sdc bs=1M

Once that was done, I just put the newly imaged USB disk into the new computer and booted to the USB drive. It came up without issue so on the ESXi console I logged in and selected “Reset System Configuration (Factory Reset).” The system rebooted and I configured it like any other ESXi host in my environment. Here is what it looks like in the vSphere client:

Mininix ESXi

Installing Fedora:
This was fairly straightforward, I just wrote the Fedora live ISO to a USB stick on my mac and booted the system from the USB stick. The OS was installed to the 128 GB mSATA disk I installed and everything went smooth. Fedora’s install instructions are here if you need them. After the OS was installed, I ran the following commands to get flash, chrome, silverlight and java set up and running. I also installed cinnamon and xfce since I really don’t like Gnome 3:

sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck
sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck
sudo yum update -y
sudo yum -y install vlc yum-plugin-fastestmirror icedtea-web wget
sudo rpm -ivh
sudo rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-adobe-linux
sudo yum -y install flash-plugin
sudo yum localinstall --nogpgcheck
sudo yum -y install @cinnamon-desktop @xfce-desktop
sudo dnf install ./pipelight-selinux-0.2.1-2.fc21.noarch.rpm
sudo pipelight-plugin --update
pipelight-plugin --help
pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight5.1
pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight5.0
pipelight-plugin --enable flash

Finally, I installed docker and disabled the local firewall:

sudo yum install docker -y
sudo systemctl start docker
sudo systemctl enable docker
sudo systemctl disable firewalld
sudo systemctl stop firewalld

The final thing I needed to do was install the vCO client which is easily done by downloading the installer from the vCO appliance web page. When I was done, I had a desktop that looks like this:

Mininix Desktop

2 thoughts on “Installing Fedora 21 and ESXi 5.5 on my new Shuttle DS81

  1. Avaneesh

    Hello Chris,

    Came across your blog while looking for home esxi lab. I was planning to hack/solder my way into adding a second nic to an intel nuc when i read your blog about the DS81 and had a v8 moment.

    Strangely enough i was also toying with the idea of the G1820 and a mini itx board but did not like the idea of the a full mini itx case taking space on my desk. This is where the DS81 would suit my needs nicely.

    Quick question, what is your opinion of the G1820 performance as an esxi lab? I am by no means looking for a dual socket octa-core performance. However, if lets say you are running a 5-10 VMs, does your experience get sluggish to a point where you would think, should have spend 50+ USD for more an i3/i5.

    At this point i have i5 NUC, 12-15 VMs running 10-11 of them in a resource pool with minimum shares and CPU/RAM limiting ..etc. 1 NIC is the sticking point.

    Any advise.


    1. Chris Post author

      I haven’t seen anything that I consider to be slow. Nothing is screaming fast but performance is adequate. The price to performance ratio is terrific in my opinion.


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