Adding a DietPi VM to an EXSi Host

This blog very much falls into the ‘how in the hell did I do that’ category.

A bit of background.  I have had an HP MicroServer for a number of years just sitting there not doing a lot except running an XP VM with a mailserver on it called Mailtraq.  This was a hangover from when mail servers were pretty poor and GoogleMail was a twinkle in someone’s eye.  It also helped with dial on demand (who remembers that!), NNTP and Demon Internet.  Suffice to say life has moved on so the XP VM needed to be binned and so, sadly, did the Mailtraq installation.

What then to do with the MicroServer.  It runs a free version of VMWare’s EXSi server (5.x) which I happily connect to via the old vSphere client.  Whilst this is a little old hat, I know it and can find my way around it so ‘it ain’t broke, don’t fix’ is the mantra.  I then realised that DietPi have some VM images so I thought I’d give them a go.  Whilst running things on RaspberyPis seems like a good idea, for somethings it really isn’t.  The network speed is poor (shared USB Bus), SD Card wear and a lack of grunt.  The DietPi images are built for the VMware Workstation but I was able to convert them using the VMware vCenter standalone converter with little problem.  The speed of the application was fast compared to a B+ Pi so all was well and good.

DietPi have just released a new platform.  This has caused some angst as the older platform is now simply not supported.  However, it is a step change for them, so I picked up the new V6 image and tried to convert it.  No joy. I kept getting an error “Unable to Obtain Hardware information for the selected machine”.  At first I thought it was an error with the new image file but on trying an image I had previously converted successfully, it also failed.

Following some searching, I am sure that the problem is with security on Windows 10.  I do not know if it is MS or BitDefender.  I had a brief foray with BitDefender but it interfered with Bash on Windows (no network) and they were unwilling to investigate without me doing all the work so it go canned. Getting rid of all the BitDefender garbage seems a bit tricky!  I did try opening the converter as Administrator, disabling UAC and disabling MS Defender all to no avail.

So plan B was to upload the VMDK and VMX files.  I was sure this had failed before but I had a go.  First boot failed on OS type.  This was fixed by selecting ‘otherLinux-64’.

Next boot did not like number of CPUs.  Changed that in setting.

Next boot did not like the disk type.  Error message “Failed to open disk scsi0:0: Unsupported or invalid disk type 7”.  The issue here is that the disk type is for VMware Workstation.  However, fixing this was relatively simple.  I had SSH enabled on the EXSi host so SSH in and use  vmkfstools -i <sourceVM> <targetVM> (KB item) to clone the disk to the right format.

The VM now booted and DietPi started.  One final issue was the network did not want to configure.  I fixed this by deleting the network adapter and installing a new one.

Having now got a DietPi VM that has run once, I will clone this and create the various VMs I need.

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