Home > Ultimate vSphere Lab > Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 3: VMware Workstation 8

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 3: VMware Workstation 8

Once we have our desktop installed with Windows 7 x64, it’s time to install VMware Workstation 8.


Download the latest binaries from VMware website and start the setup:


Pick a Typical installation.


The default installation location is fine as it is.

I recommend to check for product updates on each startup.


If you’re in a generous mood and willing to help VMware, tick the check box 🙂


Continue the installation finish it.

When the installation is finished, start VMware Workstation with Administrative Privileges (Right-click and select Run as administrator).


Click HelpEnter License Key… to unlock VMware Workstation.

Let’s start by Configuring VMware Workstation by opening EditPreferences…


The first option we will change is the Default location for Virtual Machines.

Create a Folder “VM” on your SSD drive and on the HDD drive.  The default location will point to the HDD drive.  This way, all VMs are placed on HDD (where we have plenty of space) and only our ‘precious’ VMs will be placed on SSD manually.

My HDD is E: and my SSD is C: (I only have 1 80GB SSD which has my OS installed as well.  This leaves me about 25 GB free for VMs on the SSD).


Next click the Updates item in the inventory window and click the Download All Components Now button.  This will download all VMware Tools versions.  This can be skipped but VMware Workstation will prompt you to download this on the first OS installation of each type.  As i find that quite annoying, I prefer to download them all at once in advance.


Next, click the Memory item.  Change the memory slider until you have a little bit more that 2 GB left for the OS. (my Windows 7 with the default things running like AV consumes 2.04 GB).  If your OS has not enough RAM available, it will start swapping and performance degrades. (putting you SWAP file on the SSD will partially boost performance but still, not an ideal solution).


Click OK to save the preferences.

Now it’s time to set up our Virtual Networking environment.  Open the Virtual Network Editor.


Basically, you have three options for a network:

– Bridged: The VM will get an IP analog to your desktop PC.  Required if the VM need internet access or access to other devices in your home network (NAS, …)

– NAT: VMware Workstation will act as a router.  Not really needed for our setup.

– Host-only: Compare this to an Internal switch on vSphere.  VMs can communicate with each other, but not to the outside world.

Some networks are created by default.


The default VMnet0 network will be used temporary to set up the first VMs so we’ll need that.

Next, we’ll create a new Internal network for our LAN communication (vSphere hosts, vCenter, SQL, …).  Hit the Add Network… button to create one:


Pick VMnet2


The network must be Host-OnlyDeselect the options Connect a host virtual adapter to this network and Use local DHCP service to distribute IP address to VMs.

Change the Subnet IP to with a subnet mask of  This will give us quite some IPs to play with.


We will create additional iSCSI/NFS network later on, but this will do for now.

So this will give us two Virtual Networks to use: VMnet0 (with Internet connectivity) and VMnet2 (Internal network only).


Click OK to save these settings.


That’s it for this post!  Next, we will start creating our Infrastructure VMs (DC, SQL, vCenter, …)


Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 1: The Story

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 2: The Hardware

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 3: VMware Workstation 8

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 4: Base Template

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 5: Prepare the Template

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 6: Domain Controller

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 7: SQL Server

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 8: vCenter

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 9: ESXi

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 10: Storage

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 11: vMotion & Fault Tolerance

Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab – Part 12: Finalizing the Lab

Categories: Ultimate vSphere Lab
  1. December 27, 2011 at 18:14

    man I thought I was smart buying up servers to play with at home. I really like this setup much better. anyone interested in some dl360’s 🙂 ?

  2. myname
    January 3, 2012 at 18:10

    Yep for sure. I run my ESXi on Dell D620 laptop and everything works just fine. And in home use it’s more than enough, silent and small.

  3. bobbydamercer
    January 5, 2012 at 02:25


    For VMnet2, what’s the point of deselecting the option ‘Connect a host virtual adapter to this network’?? You did the same thing for VMnet3 and VMnet4 too … Why??

    And when you say open vSphere client, you mean open it on Windows 7 Box or from inside the vCenter VM ???


    • January 5, 2012 at 08:58

      If you select the option ‘Connect a host virtual adapter to this network’, you will have an extra virtual network adapter on your main Windows 7 host. If you give that adapter a valid IP, you can communicate through that adapter with the VMnet2, 3 & 4 networks. But then it won’t be a truly isolated network.

      So from a security point of view, deselect the option.

    • January 5, 2012 at 09:02

      And indeed, you need to open vSphere Client from the vCenter VM. Simply put, you can’t do it from your Windows 7 box because it can’t reach the vCenter.

      If you select the option ‘Connect a host virtual adapter to this network’, than you can do it from your Windows 7 machine as well (but then again, your LAB will be exposed to the outside world, making it more vulnerable to threats so best is to install an AV Scanner on your VMs then).

  4. bobbydamercer
    January 5, 2012 at 02:29

    If ESXi1 and ESXi2 along with vCenter on the same network ‘VMnet2’ and this VMnet2 network is connected to an adapter, how am I gonna manage vCenter/ESXi hosts???

    Please forgive my silly questions, I am just trying to get the whole picture 🙂

    • January 5, 2012 at 09:01

      All vNICs connected to VMnet2 (or 3 or 4) are able to connect to other vNICs in that same VMnet.
      They just can’t get to the ‘host’ (= your Windows 7 desktop), that’s because that option ‘Connect a host virtual adapter to this network’ is not selected.

      Compare it with a vSwitch on vSphere with no uplinks. Every vNIC can communicate with other vNICs on that vSwitch/portgroup but can’t get to the outside world.

  5. bobbydamercer
    January 5, 2012 at 02:30

    Sorry I meant ‘no connected to an adapter’

  6. bobbydamercer
    January 5, 2012 at 15:32

    Got it!!!!!! Again, thank you so much 🙂

  7. Palani Samy
    February 22, 2012 at 14:23

    Please let me know anyhow the hardware should support whether you are installing it inside the virtual machine or directly to the machine.

    • February 22, 2012 at 14:26


      i’m afraid i don’t really get your question. 🙂

      Can you be a bit more specific what your question is exactly?

  8. April 10, 2012 at 15:18

    I am trying to install esxi 5 onto vmware workstation 8 on a hp pavilion g6 laptop. However im am getting a strange error during the installation phase. Precisely right after i hit f11 to accept the EULA agreement.

    My physical macine has 4gb ram and its using a i5 processor.

    I hve followed the documentation accordingly just like this link – > https://boerlowie.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/building-the-ultimate-vsphere-lab-part-3-vmware-workstation-8/

    Could not get further than this.

    Any suggestions would greatly help.


    Pls see attachment.

    • April 10, 2012 at 15:23

      Can you try to run this tools? http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=592

      It checks if you have Hardware Assisted VT enabled.

      • April 11, 2012 at 00:17

        Ive installed it and it displayed the message “This computer is configured with hardware assisted virtualization”. The processor meets the requirement to run windows virtual PC….”

      • April 11, 2012 at 08:21

        Weird, so your hosts should be okay then.

        Can you try to install another 64-bit OS like Windows 2008 R2 to see if that works?

      • April 12, 2012 at 03:30

        I’ve tried to install both 32bit Win 7 and 64bit Win 7 with no issues. installation went fine. I suspect either the processor doesnt support nested VMs or there is a problem with the installer ISO file ( I doubt this is the problem because it was downloaded directly from vmware).

      • April 12, 2012 at 14:55

        Weird. Nested VMs shouldn’t be the issue because that will only come into effect when you install a VM running on the virtual ESXi host inside VMware Workstation.

        Try downloading the ISO once more, you never know if something got corrupted.

  9. kevin
    December 30, 2012 at 22:20

    hi just came across this lab setup and was wondering if I would be able to create this on A Dell Laptop 1564 i5 with 8GB of RAM, any help would be great thankyou

    • January 7, 2013 at 21:28

      8 GB will be very tight. You could set it up by didging the SQL Server and use SQL Express on the vCenter machine.

      2 ESXi hosts should fit in that setup, but you might want to lower their memory a bit (like 3 GB or somewhere around that).

      I do hope you have an SSD, if not, take out the coffee cups 🙂

  10. kevin
    January 7, 2013 at 23:41

    Thanks for your reply , is that a typo what is didging? Why do I need a Solid State Drive sorry I’m totally new to this but would love to be able to tinker with a small lab on my machine without damaging it, would something like this harm my computer?

  11. Wayne
    January 19, 2013 at 20:59

    I am assumng that your win & install is on a different, HD than the workstation 8, or am I assuming to much? reason I am asking is my current setup has two 2tb Hd’s in a raid 1 config, both drives are sata 7200 rpm. I have room to add SSD’s as well. My OS is located on the raid 1 sata drives.

    • February 7, 2013 at 20:29

      No, my Windows install is on the same drive as the VMware Workstation Install and the vCenter etc. It’s all stored on the SSD drive.

      In your situation, i would just add an SSD (leave windows on the HDD). Install VMware Workstation on your HDD and put as much VMs as possible on the SSD disk. If you are short on space (= your SSD becomes full), move the ESXi hosts install, the DC and the SQL to the HDD in that order. That will still give you reasonable performance.

      If you have the space on your SSD, you can even add an extra disk to the vCenter served by the SSD. Create a seperate iSCSI disk on it and mount it on the ESXi hosts. Now you have 2 tiers of storage in your vSphere Cluster! A fast one (SSD) and a slower (HDD).

      • WM
        March 8, 2013 at 00:06


        I have ran into an issue of your documentation, for the most part I have been able to follow the setting up of the VM network, however in step 7 Configuring the DC. When after setting the forext functional level to 2008 R2, I am confronted with a selection of two choice

        !. Yes the computer will use IP’s automatically assigned by the DHCP (Not Recommended)

        2. No I will assign static Ip’s to physical network adapters

        If I select #2 it puts me in a loop and I cannot go forward, If I select #1 it then tells me that the DNS zone will not be created, I should migrate it to AD

        Any suggestions, On my PC I have one physical nic, and three Virtual nics. Vmnet1, Vmnet2 (this is the one I used) and Vmnet8



      • April 14, 2013 at 19:50

        How many vNICs has your DC? It should only have one.

        I guess it has multiple and one of them is still using a DHCP address…

  12. Robert
    January 28, 2013 at 10:07

    Hi Boerlowie,

    Am linux guy who entering to Vmware Technology newly. I would like to setup the lab for Vmware to practise and leran.(in future vcloud too)

    I have been suggested to buy below hardware model by Vender. Pleae help me to proceed with below or suggest if any model better then this for Vmware


    Advance thanks for your help.

    Mother Board = DQ77MK model

    Processor= i7 3rd generation processor ( 3770)

    Ram=Corsair 16gb

    1tb hard disk



    • February 7, 2013 at 20:25

      Looking good! But i would throw in a SSD drive. That will really give you a huge performance boost and makes it much more fun to play with the lab!

  13. Varun
    February 26, 2013 at 07:57

    Hi Im new to this.. can you please tell me why use SSD.. I gues it for good performance.. can we run Win7 On HDD and install vmware workstation on it and then by creating two virtual machines(two esx) on vmwareworkstation and so on..

    • April 14, 2013 at 19:54

      Yep… that’s the idea of this lab. Put as much as possible on the SSD to profit from it’s high performance!

  14. August 8, 2013 at 15:03


    I cannot say enough thank you for this guide and process. Here are my spec’s of a lab setup i have at home and was wondering if you can give me some suggestions on how to setup to gain from it for the most.

    i5 2500k CPU
    16GB of ram considering 32GB upgrade
    320Gb SATA for OS
    ATI hd6870 Video
    broadcom gig nic (onboard)

    Now the goodies i have for storage:

    2-iOmega ix2-dl with 2- 500GB Sata Drives in each running raid-0

    I can setup the appliance with iSCSI and NFS which I would like to have both for the lab practices and my current production environment at work is NFS.

    All this is running on unmanaged router and switch at this time. Any feedback and suggestions will greatly appreciated.
    I thought the use of a NAS would help with performance.

    Thanks everyone for such a great blog!!!


  1. June 8, 2012 at 16:43

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