I love barebone Shuttle PCs for home lab purposes. They have very compact design, can fit 3 hard disks (great for VSAN), low power consumption, are quiet and can fit up to 32 GB of RAM.
I have two of them (SZ68R5 and SH87R6). I was recently reinstalling them to brand new vSphere 5.5 U1 to prep them up for VSAN and here are some problems I encountered.
On-board Realtek NIC
Although I always add dual NIC Intel Pro/1000 PT card, there is one on-board Realtek 8111G NIC as well. This card used to work with vSphere 5.1, however as of vSphere 5.5 the driver for it is no longer included. If you upgraded from vSphere 5.1 to 5.5 the card will still work, but brand new installation will not recognize it.
To solve it I have created custom image with the vSphere 5.1 Realtek 8168 driver. Here is ImageBuilder PowerCLI script I used (includes also Cisco and NetApp VIBs).
New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-standard -name ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp -vendor Fojta
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp -SoftwarePackage net-r8168
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp -SoftwarePackage net-r8169
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp -SoftwarePackage cisco-vem-v164-esx
Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp -SoftwarePackage NetAppNasPlugin
Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp -ExportToIso -filepath ESXi-5.5.0-20140302001-Cisco-Realtek-NetApp.iso
Thanks go to: Paul Braren and Erik Bussink for the hints.
USB Flash Disk
I am booting off of USB flash disk in order to preserve internal SDD and HDD for VSAN. I use 8 GB SanDisk Cruzer Fit which is so tiny you don’t even notice it in the USB slot.
I prepared the USB flash disk in Workstation then plug it and do the initial network configuration. The strange thing I was encountering was that I was able to boot from the disk, but the ESXi installation was stateless. Any configuration changes I did would be lost after reboot.
The reason was that although I could boot of the USB, ESXi did not recognize it and would not save the configuration. After some troubleshooting I found out that I need to use USB 2.0 ports (B6) and not USB 3.0 (B7).
Identical BIOS UUID
Both Shuttle boxes have identical BIOS UUID:
esxcfg-info | grep “BIOS UUID”
results in 03000200-0400-0500-0006-000700080009.
The is big problem for Nexus 1000V who identifies VEMs via the supposedly unique BIOS UUID. For now I removed one of the boxes from the Nexus switch. I would be grateful for any info how to flash BIOS with different UUID.
Thanks to the comments below from RonTom42 here are the steps needed to change BIOS UUID:
1. Download AMIDMI.EXE tool from here.
2. Download FreeDOS and put it onto USB stick from here. I used FreeDOS-1.1-memstick-2-2048M.img with the Win32 Disk Imager option.
3. Copy AMIDMI.EXE to USB disk
4. Boot Shuttle from the USB disk. Enter the fdos option 4.
5. Run amidmi /u command
6. Reboot ESXi host and check BIOS UUID with: esxcfg-info | grep “BIOS UUID”