vSphere 5.1: Quick Start with nested Lab-Environment

You surely noted that vSphere 5.1 got released some hours ago 🙂 If you now want to get it installed as fast as possible a nested lab will be the best choice!

To get started of course you first need to download the new files, which you will find here. Make sure you download ESXi 5.1.0 and the vCenter 5.1.0. If you want to get started as fast as possible you should definitely go with the vCenter Server Appliance.

If you haven´t run a nested lab with virtualized ESXi servers before, there are some steps you need to be aware off:

1). If you are going to setup this lab on top of your production environment, I would recommend you to configure a separate port group for your nested ESXi hosts. There are two important points you need to focus on. You need to enable the promiscuous mode, otherwise your virtual ESXi host will not be able to pass-through the traffic to the VMs running inside your virtualized ESXi server. If you are planning to use VLANs for your ESXi server and it´s VMs you need to set the VLAN ID to 4095, which means that all VLANs get accepted via this port group.


2.) Create a new VM with the following settings:  OS = Red Hat Linux Enterprise (64-Bit), Nic = E1000 & SCSI Controller = LSI Logic Parallel

3.) Go to the virtual machine properties and select the tab “Options”.  Here you must change the OS version below the point “General Options” from Red Hat to VMware ESXi 5.x (below Other).  I don´t know why VMware didn´t let you chose this directly when creating a new VM. Also you need to add an advanced parameter to the VMX file, which you can also do here via the virtual machine properties. You will find a button labeld “Configuration Parameters….” below “Advanced / General” within the Option tab. Add the following line with the name “monitor.virtual_exec”  and the value “hardware”.  Surly this can also be done directly in the VMX file by adding “monitor.virtual_exec = “hardware” “.

If you wouldn’t add this to the configuration, you can´t start 64-bit VMs inside your virtualized ESXi hosts, which are created with HW-Version 4 or 7. Unfortunately the vCenter Appliance we are going to use is still in version  5.1 a HW-Version 7 VM, so we would already run into this problem after deploying the OVF file

4.) Before you can power on your newly created ESXi VM you also need to do one change on your physical ESXi server, which is going to host your nested lab.

Via the CLI browse to the directory /etc/vmware/ and there you will find a file named “config”. Edit this file and add the following line: “vhv.allow = “TRUE” “. This change will not require a reboot. Note: If you going to run a nested lab in the future on top of a ESXi 5.1 host this option has changed and is now called “vhv.enable = “TRUE” “.

Now you are ready to power on your VM and install ESXi 5.1.

I think there is no need to explain the installation steps of the ESXi server itself. Even if you are new to VMware believe me you will get manage this on your own 🙂

The first thing I noticed after the installation was finished, that IPv6 now is enabled by default, which wasn´t the case with ESXi 5.0

To connect now to the ESXi 5.1 host you will need to install the new vSphere client, which you will also find via the link I listed on the beginning.

The next step would be to deploy the vCenter Appliance. I saw that Duncan Epping just did a short How-To about the deployment process, so no need to repeat it.

If you have the appliance up an running you need to do the inital configuration. Connect via brower to https://ip-adress:5480 (default login root/vmware) and follow the setup-wizzard. For your lab it will be fine to keep the default settings.

Now you are ready to connect to vCenter with the new vSphere Web-Client (https://ip-adress:9443) or of course the traditional vSphere Client we installed before. The default vCenter credentials are the same (root/vmware), if you didn´t changed it before.

Have fun exploring the new Web-Client and the testing the new features.


  1. minesh parbhoo says


    I am keen to setup a nested lab.
    Wanting to install
    -2 esx 5.1 servers.
    – Vcenter server
    – domain controller
    approx 5 VMs (4 gb ram each)

    I would like to host this on a single server.

    Can you suggest a suitable server for this


  2. Thanks for the writeup, I could not get this to work on vSphere 5.1 without additional options in the VMX, in your step 3 above. Here is the complete set I used to make it work:

    monitor.virtual_mmu = “hardware”
    monitor.virtual_exec = “hardware”
    vhv.enable = “TRUE”
    hypervisor.cpuid.v0 = “FALSE”

  3. This still fails for me, although the hints in this post helped me get further than I had before. The error I get now is “VALIDATE_HOST_HW ERROR: vendor VIB for HP found, but host is VMWare, Inc”

  4. Yeah, that turned out to be the problem; I downloaded a generic image from vmware and it worked.

  5. MKBELL35 says

    All vmachine (windows server 2012) in the nestted host failed connectivity
    I created a seperate port group with enable the promiscuous mode.
    I can not communicate with the gateway either.

  6. Alessandro says

    Hi, I have follow your suggestions and now my lab work fine. One question: can I install vm-tools on vESXi 5.1 ? Many thanks in advance


  1. […] during the installation of a nested ESXi host was discussed in the comment section of my article vSphere 5.1: Quick Start with nested Lab-Environment, so I thought it is worth making a dedicated post for this […]

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