Cloning Nested ESXi in Workstation

October 6, 2014 0 By Eric Shanks

I recently had to rebuild part of my home lab due to a very poor decision to host all of my nested ESXi hosts on a single SSD.  Kids, Do NOT do that at home!  Obviously this is a lab and budget was a constraint, but it was a bummer when my SSD finally failed.  It might be useful to review some steps used to build ESXi Servers inside VMware Workstation.  Especially since Workstation 10 can clone ESXi which makes things much quicker.

Install your VMware Workstation on the physical host you want to house your ESXi hosts on.  Create a new virtual machine and install ESXi like you would in any other environment.  Nothing too special about this.

Once the ESXi hosts was created there are a few things that you will want to do, before you clone your ESXi hosts.  This has all been written about in posts from other people, including William Lam, but I wanted to put them altogether in one post.

NOTE:  Steps one and two are completely ripped off from William’s post.  If you want more information please see it directly here:

1.  Open an SSH session to the ESXi host and run the following command to ensure that your MAC Addresses don’t get copied with the ESXi clone.

esxcli system settings advanced set -o /Net/FollowHardwareMac -i 1

2.  Next, you’ll need to remove the system UUID entry from /etc/vmware/esx.conf .  This is a unique ID for each ESXi host and trust me, this will cause you issues if you try to join multiple ESXi hosts to a vCenter.  My preferred method to modify this file is to connect to the ESXi host with WinSCP so I can modify it with a GUI.

3.  Install the VMware Tools Version from VMware.  This is currently a fling that you can find more information about here.  This is super simple as you can download it directly from the internet.  Run the following command from your SSH session on the ESXi host:

esxcli software vib install -v -f

4.  Clone Away!