Now that you have Raspberry Pi (rPI) OS running as a VM on ESXi-Arm, the next thing you will probably want to install is VMware Tools, especially useful to see the IP Address of your Guest if you are using DHCP and for enabling guest "soft" shutdown using the vSphere UI. Below are the instructions
There are actually a number of ways to boot and install the ESXi-Arm Fling, but the easiest method is already outlined in the official ESXi-Arm Raspberry Pi (rPI) documentation and the PDF can be downloaded from the Fling website. As a quick refresher, you only need to have two storage devices.
- SD Card - Used to store the rPI UEFI files which is required to boot ESXi-Arm Installer
- ESXi-Arm can not run on SD Card and for these reasons, you do not need a large capacity SD Card
- USB Device - Contains ESXi-Arm Installer / Installation
- After the ESXi-Arm installer boots, you can actually re-use the exact same USB device for the installation of ESXi-Arm itself. A separate USB device is not required unless that is your goal or if the capacity is not enough for running VMs
The boot process after the ESXi-Arm installation is that the UEFI firmware will first load on the rPI and then it will boot up the ESXi-Arm from the USB device. As mentioned, there are other variations but this is the most basic option. The other nice behavior is that if you need to re-install ESXi-Arm, you simply create a bootable USB device with the ESXi-Arm installer and then install that right on the same USB device without having to mess with UEFI image. This also allows you to perform scripted installation also known as Kickstart, which is something I will be covering in the future that takes UEFI image into consideration.
I have seen a few questions asked whether it is possible to have everything run off of the SD Card and/or USB Device and the answer is yes to certain degree.
- It is possible to put the ESXi-Arm installer + UEFI on SD Card but ESXi-Arm will NOT be able to use it as installation media, so there is not a whole ton of value there.
- It is possible to have both the UEFI image and ESXi Installation on the same USB device, especially if you do not have spare SD Cards which apparently has come up a few times
In this blog post, I will outline the instructions for booting an installed ESXi-Arm installation completely off of the USB device without the needing an SD Card containing the UEFI image.
It has only been a week since the ESXi-Arm Fling was released, but the amount of experimentation and frankly cool s*** that people have been able to do in such a short period of time has been pretty mind blowing. For example, did you know you could run ESXi-Arm on Nintendo Switch!?🤯
Andrei recently published a blog post on the official ESXi-Arm blog showcasing some of the really cool stuff the community has shared on Twitter, definitely worth checking digest post #1 it out if you have not seen it.
Something that really caught my eye which I did not see mentioned in Andre's blog post was from Twitter user Joakim Korhonen who shared that he was able to run Raspberry Pi's (rPI) OS (formally Raspbian OS) as a Virtual Machine running on top of the ESXi-Arm Fling!
— Joakim Korhonen (@korhojoa) October 8, 2020
This is pretty interesting because rPI OS was designed to run on a physical rPI and there are no installers other than the image file which you download and copy onto the SD Card to boot. What is really exciting about this news is that you can now run any of the popular rPI applications such as RetroPi or Pi-hole which traditionally may have required several rPI to host.
In addition, this can also benefit the rPI OS development community by making it easier to build and test applications on top of rPI OS as you can now spin these up as VMs and get all the benefits of vSphere and ESXi such as snapshots, cloning, etc. The possibilities are endless and wanted to give a huge thanks to Joakim for sharing his hack on getting this to work on ESXi-Arm. For those interested, I have documented the detailed instructions below.
UPDATE (11/106/20) - For those familiar with VMware Virtual Appliances (OVA) and using custom OVF properties for guest/application customization, be sure to check out this complimentary blog post on how to build your own rPI OS OVA that can allow you to easily deploy additional rPI OS VMs with ease, especially useful for testing and development purposes.