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Nutanix CE home lab build log

The plan

For my new job, I’m studying for the Nutanix-MCI. I can use the Nutanix cloud-based labs system, but I’m a hands-on guy, and prefer to learn by practical example. I recently re-built my 3 node vSan cluster, and it was a lot of work to juggle the VMs due to the greater complexity of my current home lab as well as larger amounts of data saved. For instance, my entire network is dependent on DNS via VMs that I run on my cluster. If/when my vSphere hosts go down, my Sonos Speakers can longer stream Def Leppard / Dokken and my desktop won’t be able to join any Teams meetings or read emails ; the second issue isn’t as bad as the first :p

As such, the Nutanix CE build will be focused on providing service-level disaster recover when there is planned or un-planned maintenance on my primary 3 node vSan cluster

Current setup

Currently, I’ve got service-level DR / HA as follows:

  • 2x Citrix Netscaler VPX in an HA pair
  • The Citrix Netscaler HA instance hosts two “least connection” based LB servers which are Microsoft AD DNS and Rasberry Pi (DietPI) based instances
  • With this setup, I’ve got the primary netscaler, MS AD DC, DietPI instance on the vSan, with the secondary instances on a stand-alone 4th ESXi host (HP Microserver Gen 8)

Nutanix CE build process/ hardware bingo

If you’re familiar with the Nutanix community edition (CE) offering, you’ll know the program is rarely updated. So, if you’re used to deploying the latest CR/LTS versions of Nutanix for your clients, and want to try CE on your non-Nutanix certified hardware @ home, you’ll note a gap in releases. The previous CE was un-updated for approx 2 years.

Compare this to the $200 USD per year VMUG program, and a gap of usually just a few weeks exist between major VMware releases: vSphere vCenter, vSAN, ESXi, NSX. Thankfully, the Nutanix CE folks finally released an update a few weeks back, so, the code is now running on the 6.5.2 base.

Years back, I had tried the 2020 version on a spare HP EliteDesk G3 SFF taken away from my main vSan 3 node cluster. I ran into all sorts of issues getting EFI based Win 10 / Win 2022 systems to boot, so converted it back to ESXi. However, a lot of these issues are sorted with the latest release, so, it was time to try CE again! Nutanix CE has similar requirements to deploying Nutanix on certified hardware, you’ve need to have 3 separate drives for the AHV Hypervisor, CVM, and DATA, as such:

My first install attempt on HP EliteDesk G3 SFF , I ensured that I entered the HP setup and set the following:

  • Ensure legacy boot enable / secure boot disable
  • VT-x set to enabled
  • Updated BIOS to the latest version via online update method
  • 3 drives: WD 500 GB PATA for data, Samsung 1 TB 970 EVO NVM for CVM, Patriot brand 128 GB SSD for Hypervisor

Despite the above in place, I wasn’t able to get past the following error condition(s)

I tried out multiple USB drives, as well as, you’ve got the option to attempt the install via EFI (preferred) or BIOS (legacy), the result was the same

After a 3-4 failed install attempts. I figured the new Nutanix CE was just incompatible with my target hardware, so decided to move up a generation, and demote my main desktop ; a HP Elite Desk G4 (Intel 8700 based CPU) to use fot the Nutanix CE install. For the next attempt, I got rid of the 500 GB PATA drive and ended up with the following storage config:

Samsung 256 GB CVM , Samsung 1 TB 970 EVO NVM for DATA, Patriot brand 128 GB SSD for Hypervisor

Success! With the base build done, I’ll work to use Nutanix MOVE to migrate over my DR instances from my ESXi host, i’ll update this blog with my progress, but that’s it for now!



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