VMware has released a fling* to run ESXi on ARM. Nice right? I am now able to run ESXi on my Raspberry Pi.

How cool would it be if I could show you all how to install ESXi on my Pi? Pretty cool I guess, However I just noticed that the SD card of my Pi died so therefore I will go ahead and explain the requirements for the installation and provide you with some links on how to do it yourself.

So I first need to get a new SD card, after that I will share the installation with you in a future blog post.

For ESXi to run on your PI you do need to keep in mind the following:

  1. You will need a Pi version 4b. Older versions will not work
    • The recommendation for the amount of memory is 8GB
  2. A USB drive to install ESXi on. In addition to an USB drive you could also use an USB SATA or NVME drive. However you cannot use the SD card slot of the Pi as it is not supported
  3. A second USB drive to hold the actual installation files
  4. Installation files, which are located here
  5. A micro SD card to load the UEFI firmware
  6. Mouse, keyboard, monitor and a micro HDMI cable

On the Fling page you you can download the installation guides for ESXi on Rasberry PI.

What is involved with the installation?

  1. If you have an old EEPROM running on your PI you need to update it (More info here)
  2. Place UEFI firmware on SD card
  3. Boot up your PI and confgure UEFI
  4. Make a bootable USB drive with the ESXI installation files
  5. Install ESXi
  6. Boot ESXi for the first time an configure ESXi
  7. Have fun messing around with your ESXi based PI

What to do with your ESXi PI

I can think of several use cases for running ESXi on my Raspberry Pi:

  1. Run VM’s (duh)
  2. Build a cluster of PI’s and hook them up to a vCenter
  3. Run a super lightweight K8s distribution called k3s as described here for IOT related edge cases

But the coolest option I found so far is the one from William Lam. He has a vSAN Witness Node running on a Raspberry PI.

*A fling is an unofficial piece of code / software maintained and created by VMware engineers


By Arjen Kloosterman

Sr. Solutions Engineer @ Netapp

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