TestLab: Setting up the hardware

So far in my TestLab I’ve purchased a HP N40L MicroServer and installed VMWare hypervisor ESXi 5. The purpose of this is to continue my IT training from my home Office at a low budget. This what my setup looks like.

Lab 2

I needed to juice up the Micro Server a little as it only came with 2Gb Ram and 1 on board gigabit nic. I want to run as many VMs as possible and also, I want to isolate my lab from my home network.

I bought 2x4Gb Corsair memory from my local supplier but it was just not compatible. I found myself seeing all the colours of the rainbow. First, the VMWare host would get the Purple Screen of Death, then, my Microsoft guests would Blue Screen of Death. I decided to revisit my supplier who kindly swapped out my incompatible memory for an AMD equivalent. Now it works a treat.

Finding a compatible NIC was not that easy either. I needed a PCI Express, half height, low profile card. Many cards come with both brackets but don’t advertise it within the specs. You can sometimes only go off the picture shown on the suppliers site. After all the looking, I found one with my original server supplier ebuyer. My new NIC arrived in the post last night and I installed it straight away. The only issue was I had to take out all the connections and slide out the motherboard. The new NIC also became NIC 0 so ESX looked for it to obtain a DHCP address.

I don’t intend to purchase a CD or DVD ROM Drive for this server because in todays deployment environments you really don’t need them. I will download ISO images and mount them virtually within my guest machines.

I wont be ordering a keyboard or monitor either as I intend to plug the server into my LAN and manage it remotely from the comfort of my office using my existing laptop and 32” LCD monitor.

So to summarise my physical setup:

HP ProLiant Turion II N40L MicroServer £171.47 (with Cashback from HP) www.ebuyer.com
AMD Memory 4GB DDR3 Entertainment 1333 CL9 £37.32 www.microdirect.co.uk
HP G6 Single Port NC112T PCIe Gigabit Server £47.53 www.ebuyer.com

I’ve posted my total costs above including VAT and postage. Making my lab setup a grand total of £256.32.

The rest of my existing core setup consists of my home broadband router, 2 Gigabit switches, 2 Dell Latitude D610s with 1GB ram. I use the Dells as test clients for image deployment and nothing else. They go for for about £70 on ebay. I got mine from my boss at a previous works as they were paying £10 to dispose of each one. I suggest asking work for old kit. In most cases they will be accommodating especially if you explain you just want to update your skills for the workplace.

About Andrew Barnes

A Scripting and Deployment Specialist.
This entry was posted in Testlab and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to TestLab: Setting up the hardware

  1. Robert H says:

    consider getting a remote access card (RAC) for your N40L as it will allow you to make BIOS changes as well as being a back door when things go the wrong way. In the U.S. these cards, which are specific to the HP Microservers, go for ~$75.


  2. Jeff says:

    Andrew – great post! I found while searching how folks have done this

    Just curious, with regards to the additional NIC, are you using just the NIC you installed, or are you teaming with the built-in NIC? Or, I guess you could just use them independently as well.

    Would love to hear more about what you’ve done with this setup.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s