Monday, October 23, 2017

[How-to] Install vCSA into VMware Workstation - Part 1

With all the great remote access/management features built into VMware Workstation 14 wouldn't it be nice to be able to deploy the Vmware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) right into the VMware Workstation Server via the installer the same way we install it into ESXi?

Sadly it's missing some key features only available in a real ESXi host so we are stuck with the legacy import .ova import method, this article will cover how to do just that with 6.5 vCSA and Workstation 14.

This How-to has multiple parts

It assumed you are following this guide in order, if you don't you are probably going to have a bad time.

Before we get started

This post is based off VMware Workstation 14 Pro, vCSA 6.5, and ESXi 6.5u1 - but the concepts should be pretty similar across other versions.

This guide assumes basic understanding of VMware ESXi, Unix, networking services, and the like, and as usual these instructions are provided as-is, no support or warranty is provided or implied. Consider thyself warned.

What do I need?

To begin you will need the following:
  1. VMware Workstation (ver. 8+) fully installed.
    This should also work with Fusion (ver. 4+) for you MacOS fans.
  2. vCSA iso (download from
  3. Enough Resources - vCSA will require:
    • 1 CPU / 1 Core (2/1 recommended)
    • 10gb of RAM (temp during build, can lower after first power up to 1gb)
    • Up to 230gb Disk (a fresh install takes up ~16gb of disk running at first boot, then about ~7gb assuming you've moved memory to 1gb and ~6gb when powered off)
  4. An ESX host to configure our vCSA to manage - [How-to] Installing ESXi in VMware Workstation.
  5. DNS entries, vCSA requires forward and reverse DNS entries for your appliance - if you don't have the infrastructure setup yet you can follow this guide - [How-to] Install your own HoL-like Control Center Server in VMware Workstation
  6. Licenses to make this all work (free trial or download from VMware)

Installing vCSA in VMware Workstation

1. Open the iso with Windows Explorer or another archive tool like 7zip, extract to a folder.

 2. In VMware Workstation, File > Open (or Ctrl+O).
3. Browse to your un-archived iso file folder, under the vcsa file will be your .ova file, select it and click Open.
4. Check the box to accept the license, click Next.
5. Name your new vCSA VM, choose a path for it's storage, click Next.
6. Choose Tiny vCenter Server with Embedded PSC, click Next.
7. You can configure networking as you see fit, but it should be setup in a way that matches your DNS entry (using DHCP reservation or static configuration), I find setting ipv4 and static (as shown) - by default the machine is going to boot with the vNIC configured to Bridge anyways - so it's going to need some TLC post build/first boot. Click SSO Configuration in the navigation pane when you are done with network (do not click Import yet).
8. Set your password for the SSO Directory, click System Configuration  in the navigation pane when you are done with SSO (do not click Import yet).
9. Set your password for the Root, click Miscellaneous in the navigation pane when you are done with System Configuration (do not click Import yet).
10. You can leave Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) disabled or enabled, though realistically you are doing something not supported so why not make the Developers life a little easier by keeping our unsupported statistics to ourselves, click Networking Properties in the navigation pane when you are done with System Configuration (do not click Import yet).
11. Configure the DNS settings as you see fit, again like Network Config I leave this blank and configure post build/boot. Important Note: Once you click Import the machine will be added and powered on, by default this will set your VM's vNIC to Bridged, if your configuration requires host-only or NAT to work I highly recommend as soon as the machine is added to the inventory that you change the settings to the correct network during boot - in my case to host-only. The install requires DNS to work correctly if it fails you may end up having to re-deploy and try again. Finally you can click Import.
12. After a short period, your VM will boot - now this is critical - your post configure will need some time to run it's configuration scripts - leave this screen alone for about 5-10m - don't power down or move to the next step until you can press F2 and login with your root password you set in step 9 - if the password doesn't work your script isn't done yet - give it some time, when it's finally working (and you've given at least 5m) you can see your IP address here, when you hit (Esc) and return to the main screen it will no longer read http://localhost: and should read your machine's real name, once it does you should be good to move to the next section.

Next we move to the Post Deploy steps - Continue to Part 2: Post Deploy Configuration of vCSA

Additional Troubleshooting

If you are having some issues post deployment this guide should help you with some common issues:

If you don't have an IP (http://localhost), make sure you are on the right network in your VM settings, then return to the console by pressing F2 then login with your root password.

  •  Go into Configure Management Network by using the arrow keys and pressing (Enter).

  • Go into IP Configuration (and/or IPv6 if depending on your network) and set your appliance up appropriately - for host-only I use static, press (Enter) when complete. For IPv6 I find Disabled works best for most configurations within Workstation.

  • Go into DNS Configuration and setup appropriately - for host-only I fill in the correct information, when complete press (Enter).

  • Press (Esc) you will be prompted to save your network settings, press (Y).

If you weren't able to setup DNS (like because this is a really lean lab or you haven't configured your Windows AD/DNS server yet). you may have issues during Part 2 - Putty (or whatever SSH tool you use) over to the vCSA and login with root then run the following Commands:
echo "::1 localhost.localdom localhost" >> /etc/hosts

Next we move to the Post Deploy steps - Continue to Part 2: Post Deploy Configuration of vCSA

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