Book Excerpt

VMware GSX Server installation for Windows

IT reseller takeaway: This book excerpt from Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise details features and requirements for working with VMware GSX Server in certain environments, then provides step-by-step instructions for a VMware server installation on Windows.

Installing VMware GSX Server is similar to installing VMware Workstation. GSX Server is licensed for unlimited user access and is a solid hosted virtualization product for small and large network workgroups. You can't upgrade software packages from Workstation to GSX Server. So, if you're upgrading a server from Workstation to GSX Server, be sure to uninstall Workstation first. You don't have to worry about losing data during the uninstall process. By default, VMware (and Microsoft) virtualization applications don't delete virtual hard disks during the uninstall process. You'll be prohibited from installing multiple instances of GSX Server on a single host; in addition, you may not install it on a host already running the Virtual Machine Console.

VMware provides for that ability to silently install GSX Server using version 2.0 of the Microsoft Windows Installer runtime engine. This is useful if you'll be rolling out GSX Server to several servers. You can verify the version of Windows Installer by running msiexec.exe. Assuming you've extracted the install packages for GSX Server by running VMware-gsx-serverinstaller-< version number>.exe /a /s /x /d C:tempgsx at the CLI, you can begin a silent install (including the license key and disabling autorun) by entering the following code at the CLI:
msiexec –i "C:tempgsxVMware GSX Server.msi" ADDLOCAL=ALL /qn SERIALNUMBER= DISABLE_AUTORUN = 0

You can use the ADDLOCAL and REMOVE options with the following qualifiers:

  • All: Installs all options
  • Network: Installs all networking options
  • NAT: Installs the NAT service only
  • DHCP: Installs the DHCP service only

If you don't want to install the DHCP and NAT services, you'll need to change the previous installation command to the following:
msiexec –i "C:tempgsxVMware GSX Server.msi" ADDLOCAL=ALL REMOVE=DHCP,NAT /qn SERIALNUMBER= DISABLE_AUTORUN = 0

Unlike workstation virtualization applications, GSX Server requires substantially more hardware to ensure that network availability and performance needs are met for guest VMs. That's why the following list of best-practice minimums for a VMware GSX Server deployment shouldn't be shocking. You should have a server equipped with a configuration that approximates the following:

  • Two RAID controllers (RAID 1 for the Windows host and RAID 5 for the ESX Server guest VMs)
  • Three 1 GB NIC interfaces
  • Two 3 GHz processors
  • 4 GB of ECC DDR RAM
  • Five 15,000RPM 146 GB SCSI hard disks
  • 500–800 MHz FSB

If you download your copy of GSX Server from VMware's Web site, it's about a 90 MB file that will decompress itself before running. Follow these steps to install it:

1. Use Windows Explorer to find the installation executable, vmware-gsxserver- .exe, and launch it. You'll first be presented with the GSX Server Master Installer Wizard, so click Next to continue.

2. The Setup screen appears; you must choose between Complete or Custom for the installation. The Custom selection allows you to remove the following:

  • VMware GSX Server
  • VMware Management Interface
  • VMware VmCOM Scripting API
  • VMware VmPerl Scripting API

The default value is Complete. Because the default is normally sufficient for most installations, click Next.

3. The Destination Installation screen preselects a default directory to deliver the install files. You can modify the directory path by selecting Change.

4. The Ready to Install screen gives you the option of making changes if necessary. If you're satisfied with your previous choices, select Install to begin the software delivery to the host.

The install process will take several minutes. VMware takes a moment to secure the Web-based Management Interface for you and creates a couple of desktop shortcuts. Upon completion, you'll be presented with the Installation Completed screen. Test your installation by launching the VMware GSX Server console.

Note: You can change the default port GSX Server for Windows uses for the MMC by editing the config.ini file in C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataVMwareVMware GSX Server. Add authd.port = to the file, and change the port to the one you want to use. You may need to reboot your host server.

After completing the install of GSX Server, don't forget to check VMware's Web site, http://www.vmware.com/download/gsx_security.html, for patches and security updates.

As of this writing, a security update exists for GSX Server to correct a handful of issues with OpenSSL. The patch is smaller than a megabyte; you should install it in order to maintain the integrity of secure communications between the Management Interface and console sessions.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About the author   
Chris Wolf is an instructor at ECPI Technical College, as well as a leading industry consultant in enterprise storage, virtualization solutions, and network infrastructure management. He has a master's degree in information technology from Rochester Institute of Technology, and his IT certification list includes MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. Wolf authored MCSE Supporting and Maintaining NT Server 4.0 Exam Cram, Windows 2000 Enterprise Storage Solutions and Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies, and he contributes frequently to Redmond Magazine and Windows IT Pro Magazine. Wolf also speaks at computer conferences across the nation.


This was first published in September 2006

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