ESXi on QNAP QTS 5.1+ Tested using VS 3 & 4 - Complete Howto Guide

QNAP NAS solution for server virtualization and clustering/HA/FT
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lesliew
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ESXi on QNAP QTS 5.1+ Tested using VS 3 & 4 - Complete Howto Guide

Post by lesliew »

After a little trial and error I have been successfully running ESXi 7.0 U2 on QTS 5.1.4 for a few weeks.

Not the first person to try but while looking around I could only find partial success stories and was a little bit surprised that there was no complete write-up to be found anywhere only some failed attempts.
The main problem seems to be that if you download an ESXi ISO from the VMWare website and try to install it in Virtualization Station it wont complete the install because it can't find a compatible network card, we are going to get around this shortfall by building a custom ESXi.ISO

The big caveat - If your QNAP NAS does not support the ne1000 network driver or Nested Virtualization then this isn't going to work for you - YMMV

I have tried and had success on both of my QNAP intel NAS devices
QNAP TS-h1283XU-RP 96Gb
QNAP TVS-EC2480U-SAS-RP-2 32Gb

I thought I would at least document my procedure in-case I needed to re-create the ESXi install from scratch and maybe it will help a few others who couldn’t figure it out.
This is a pretty detailed guide but I can't promise that it will be easy to follow. I will go back and add image descriptions when I have time, if they are needed.

Steps Required

1. Enable Nested Virtualization on your QNAP NAS
2. Create Custom ESXi.ISO
- 2.1. Download - VMware-ESXi-7.0U2c-19290878-depot.zip - (does not have to be this version, but the filename must follow a similar format)
- 2.2. Download - Net-Community-Driver_1.2.7.0-1vmw.700.1.0.15843807_19480755.zip
- 2.3. Slipstream ne1000 lancard driver into a Custom EXSi.ISO - Using Powershell
3. Configure Virtualization Station
4. Edit .xml
5. Install ESXi
6. Launch the ESXi GUI

A Heads up. Step 4 of the procedure requires that you edit the Virtual Station .xml config for your ESXi VM. You will be manually editing the network card driver so that it matches the one we just added to the .ISO. After you do this, if you then edit the ESXi config from the VS GUI it overwrites your change, this means the next time you cold boot your ESXi server, it wont be able to find the network driver. You simply need to go back and manually edit the xml file again. Hopefully at some point QNAP will make our network card option available from the gui, so this step isn't necessary. (or they may not, because why would they want you running ESXi on top of their software)

My Equipment
QNAP TS-h1283XU-RP 96Gb - QTS 5.1.4, Virtualization Station 4.0.0.68 - (ESXi 7.0.2 up and running)
QNAP TVS-EC2480U-SAS-RP-2 32Gb - QTS 5.1.1 -Virtualization Station 3.6.52 (I will be documenting the procedure on this device - This is usually the machine I use for backups so it didn't have VS installed prior to this)
Windows 10/11 PC - required for powershell - (I used windows 11 running in Virtual Station only because my main computer is a mac)
Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 10:45 pm, edited 19 times in total.
- Current Devices -
QNAP TS-h1283XU-RP 96Gb
QNAP TVS-EC2480U-SAS-RP-2 32Gb
QNAP TR-004U
QNAP TS-220
QGenie 103N

- Past Devices -
QNAP TVS-1272XU-RP-i3-36Gb - RMA'ed
QNAP TVS-871-i7-16Gb - sold
QNAP TS-669, 3Gb Ram - sold
QNAP TS-639 - sold
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS (2024)

Post by lesliew »

1. Enable Nested Virtualization on your QNAP NAS

This is the procedure I have used on at least 4 separate QNAP devices - If you don't have nested Virtualization already enabled - Follow these instructions

https://sdhuang32.github.io/enable-nest ... on-on-qts/
Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 6:56 am, edited 5 times in total.
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS (2024)

Post by lesliew »

2. Create Custom ESXi.ISO

Step 2.1
Download VMware-ESXi

First, we need to download the ESXi Zip that we are going to use to build our custom ISO. Download from https://customerconnect.vmware.com/patch (need VMware Customer account).
You can register for an account on the VMWare website and download the zip, or use google if for some reason you don't want to register. There are lots of websites that host VMWare files if you look hard enough :-)

Once Registered
Select ESXi (Embedded and Installable)
Select 7.0
Hit Search
Download VMware-ESXi-7.0U2e-19290878-depot.zip (It does not have to be this version, but I do know the procedure works with this version)

Step 2.2
Download community supported network card driver - ne1000

https://download3.vmware.com/software/v ... 480755.zip
Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 8:39 am, edited 12 times in total.
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS (2024)

Post by lesliew »

Step 2.3
Slipstream ne1000 lan driver into Custom EXSi.ISO - Using Powershell


To start this section off, we need a working version of Python

Launch windows (I am using windows 11 Pro on Virtualization Station)

Install Python 3.7 from the windows store

open a windows command.com shell as administrator

We need to install a few packages in python first

At the C:\ Prompt - Type

python3.7 -m pip install six
python3.7 -m pip install lxml
python3.7 -m pip install psutil
python3.7 -m pip install pyopenssl


--------------------

Launch windows Powershell as administrator

We need to elevate our privileges so that we can install addons in powershell

at PS> prompt - Type

Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted

Answer “Yes to All” at the prompt

at PS> prompt - Type

Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI

Answer “Yes to All” at the prompt

Next we need to tell powershell where our python is installed. If your not sure run python and it should show the install path in the top menubar

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -PythonPath C:\Program Files\WindowsApps\PythonSoftwareFoundation.Python.3.7_qbz5n2kfra8p0\python.exe

Exit powershell - important to exit powershell at this point so our new python path is recognized

--------------------

Copy the 2 files we downloaded, i.e the ESXi zip and network driver to somewhere on your windows installation

Launch windows Powershell as administrator

cd to the directory where you copied the files

At PS> prompt type

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\VMware-ESXi-7.0U2e-19290878-depot.zip
Add-EsxSoftwareDepot .\Net-Community-Driver_1.2.7.0-1vmw.700.1.0.15843807_19480755.zip

Get-EsxImageProfile


- You should see something that looks like this

Name Vendor Last Modified Acceptance Level
---- ------ ------------- ----------------
ESXi-7.0U2e-19290878-no-tools VMware, Inc. 1/31/2022 7:... PartnerSupported
ESXi-7.0U2e-19290878-standard VMware, Inc. 2/15/2022 12... PartnerSupported

--------------------

Now that we have cached our working files, we will now create a new image file, merge the network driver then export the new file as an ISO image

At PS> prompt type

New-EsxImageProfile -CloneProfile "ESXi-7.0U2e-19290878-standard" -name "ESXi-7.0.2-19290878-QNAP" -Vendor "virten.net"

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-19290878-QNAP" -SoftwarePackage "net-community"

Export-ESXImageProfile -ImageProfile "ESXi-7.0.2-19290878-QNAP" -ExportToISO -filepath ESXi-7.0.2-19290878-QNAP.iso


That concludes this section, if everything worked we have now built a new ISO file with a network driver compatible with QNAP.
Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 11:42 am, edited 13 times in total.
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS (2024)

Post by lesliew »

3. Configure Virtualization Station

A few Screenshots.

The key thing is to enable CPU passthrough so that we can make use of the nested virtualization.
This works on Virtual Station 3 & Virtual Station 4
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 3.53.13 PM.png
HDD 1 - Our boot drive - We need a small drive to install the ESxi system software 16gb is plenty
HDD 2 - Our working drive where we will install our virtual appliances - make this as big as you want it.

Important that you select IDE controller, otherwise the drive images wont be recognized by the ESXi installer

Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 3.50.27 PM.png
Then we need to setup our Network cards - Choose NE2000
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 3.52.49 PM.png
Select the ESXi ISO file that we recently created - this is our boot install media
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 6.38.54 PM.png

OK we are ready to start the ESXI VM that we just created.

Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 3.47.13 PM.png
At this point if you continue and all the drivers are loaded you will get an error that says no network card detected.
Thats OK because we need the VM running so that we can edit the correct .xml file
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Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 11:16 am, edited 12 times in total.
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS (2024)

Post by lesliew »

4. Edit .xml

At this point we need to ssh to our QNAP NAS - use putty if you are using windows or you can simply ssh from the terminal on OSX or Linux

ssh username@nas.ip.address

cd /share/CACHEDEV1_DATA/.qpkg/QKVM/usr/etc/libvirt/qemu

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/QVS/usr/lib:/QVS/usr/lib64/
export PATH=$PATH:/QVS/usr/bin/:/QVS/usr/sbin/

sudo virsh list --all


Id Name State
------------------------------------------------------
4 47cf650c-b672-45f3-b187-59f486a7278f running

We need to find the UUID of our running ESXi installation especially important if you have several VM's installed to ensure that we are editing the correct xml file

You can find the UUID on your config screen
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 7.00.50 PM.png
Now we need to edit the .xml file and replace the Ne2K driver with our ne1000 slipstreamed driver.

sudo virsh edit 47cf650c-b672-45f3-b187-59f486a7278f

We need to change the driver in 2 sections - You should have 4 edits to make in total
Look for the sections <qvs:nics> and <interface type='bridge'>
replace Ne2K_pci with e1000e as shown in the screenshots below

Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 7.11.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 7.06.48 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 7.11.55 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 7.07.29 PM.png
Now that we have edited the .xml file, You need to shutdown the ESXi VM completely rather than just restarting it so that our new network driver is loaded.
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Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 12:12 pm, edited 10 times in total.
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS (2024)

Post by lesliew »

5. Install ESXi

Restart the ESXi VM.

Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 3.47.13 PM.png
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 3.45.29 PM.png
If you see this then ESXi has now recognized our slipstreamed nic driver
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 4.02.45 PM.png

Install the ESXi software on our 16gb ESXi boot drive
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 4.12.53 PM.png
Once the software is installed in our ESXi boot partition we are ready to boot.

ESXi install should prompt you to remove the CDROM and restart.
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Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 12:15 pm, edited 11 times in total.
lesliew
Starting out
Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS 5.1+ (2024)

Post by lesliew »

6. Launch the ESXi GUI

If sucessfull your ESXi installation should show the URL your going to use to bring up the configuration gui. You can go ahead and select F2 and configure a static IP if required
ESXI_204730.png
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 8.51.44 PM.png
As you can see we have our 2 network adapters configured and working
Screen Shot 2024-02-04 at 9.15.08 PM.png
That concludes the ESXi install guide, the only things left to do is to configure your datastore so that you can install your appliances (vmdk's)
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Last edited by lesliew on Mon Feb 05, 2024 11:05 am, edited 7 times in total.
lesliew
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Posts: 49
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:20 am
Location: Florida's Space Coast

Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS 5.1+ (2024)

Post by lesliew »

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lesliew
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Re: ESXi on QNAP QTS 5.1+ (2024)

Post by lesliew »

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