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Month: August 2016

VMware ESXI Home Lab

I recently bought an Intel NUC 6th generation in order to build my own VMware ESXi lab. This is my first home lab and the first PC I ever built so I’m excited.

I’m building this for two reasons, one my laptop has a small SSD preventing me from having a bunch of VMs. Second, I’m attempting to get a CCNP certification and I’d like do setup a virtual lab for that.

Bill of materials

I decided to go for the i5 simply because the i7 design wouldn’t allow me to have a HD, while the one I got has space and a connection for a SATA disk.

I also had to buy a keyboard to complete ESXI installation. I bought the NUC with the 256 SSD included on Ebay for 390. The total price was 616 U$ which makes me pretty glad for an I5 machine with plenty of storage and fast SSD if needed.


Assembly was straightforward and I used this video as reference.


Installation is simple and consists of 4 steps:

  • Downloading ESXi iso
  • Creating bootable ESXi usb drive from image using RUFUS
  • Installing and configuring ESXi
  • Installing GNS3 from OVA

I will come back here and put a link to download the ESXi iso, basically vmware can provide you this.

Rufus is also very straightforward and can be downloaded here.

Configuring ESXi could be tricky, but don’t pay attention to details, simply enable ssh and set a static IP address and you should be fine. Next you can download a Vsphere client from the ESXi machine. And you can also use the web browser.

I couldn’t create a VM from the OVA using the web client, so I recommend you to use the vsphere client.

If you need a step-by-step guide. I recommend you to check this youtube guide on how to install ESXI 6.0

In my next blog, I’ll post my experiences with GNS3.

ps: I wish I had installed ESXi with an SD card, just because I think it’s cool. I also wish you could deploy a VM from an OVA in the ESXi storage because that would make it much faster.

I’m also a little pissed because VIRL requires an 200$ license. I haven’t tested it yet but I have the feeling that for learning purposes INE would be much more cost effective, and I doubt VIRL will provide a seamless experience.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Back to blogging

For contextualization, I just concluded my internship at ONLab one of the pioneer research labs in SDN. Now, I’m looking to get a little closer to the industry and I’m pursuing a CCNP certification.

My study plan is simple. I will build a home LAB using GNS3 and VIRL to practice the contents of both exams and go through the certification guide trying the configurations on the virtual lab. I aim to quickly acquire the CCNP certification in a month since I believe I already have the necessary skills. That gives me one exam every 10 days…

My first step was to build a ESXI lab on a Intel NUC computer. I’ll post the details in a separate blog post.

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