Building a Vmware compatible server. Do I need to follow their "hardware compatibility" list exactly?

Notice: Page may contain affiliate links for which we may earn a small commission through services like Amazon Affiliates or Skimlinks.

ThatFreenas88Guy

New Member
Feb 7, 2020
6
0
1
Im building a Vmware compatible server. Do I need to follow their "hardware compatibility" list exactly? I see that there are very very few motherboards listed that are compatible with the latest 8.0+ version. And even fewer in a normal mb format/size. The whole point of using vmware is max support and stability so mb choice is important to me. Any guidance would be appreciated.
 

SnJ9MX

Active Member
Jul 18, 2019
127
78
28
Recommend you do some reading on the Broadcom acquisition of VMWare and all that implies. Many people are migrating away from VMWare, not to it. Also going to say (bluntly) that if you are asking these questions, you probably are in over your head. The compatibility list is very exact for a reason. Modern VMWare is not designed for consumer hardware. There are plenty of motherboards that are compatible - just not many consumer boards.

If you are looking for max support and stability, all hardware you use needs to be on the compatibility list.
 

FingerBlaster

Member
Feb 27, 2019
87
41
18
The whole point of using vmware is max support and stability so mb choice is important to me.
You kind of answered your own question.

Is this for business use? Are you paying for support? Otherwise you may want to rethink that question

VMware can run on consumer gear, a lot of us do, but if your paying for support, they won't touch anything not on their list, you're on your own. If you can afford a full license and a support package why are you quibbling about hardware?

If this is for a homelab, your not getting official support anyway, so what are you trying to achieve?
 

ThatFreenas88Guy

New Member
Feb 7, 2020
6
0
1
Recommend you do some reading on the Broadcom acquisition of VMWare and all that implies. Many people are migrating away from VMWare, not to it. Also going to say (bluntly) that if you are asking these questions, you probably are in over your head. The compatibility list is very exact for a reason. Modern VMWare is not designed for consumer hardware. There are plenty of motherboards that are compatible - just not many consumer boards.

If you are looking for max support and stability, all hardware you use needs to be on the compatibility list.
What are people migrating too? I would prefer proxmox but passthrough stability from what I hear is not good. Also the GPU-P of hyperv is a big bonus for me.
 

zachj

Active Member
Apr 17, 2019
158
104
43
Vsphere will run on damn near any x86 platform since ~2012…it’s just a modified Linux.

Vmware catches a lot of grief for dropping support for older hardware but if you look under the covers all they’re doing is aligning to support policies from the hardware vendors. For example VMware dropped support for sandy bridge/ivy bridge/haswell/broadwell xeons because intel itself dropped support for them.

the major difference between VMware and, say, redhat is that when VMware drops support they actually remove code and add software defeats to prevent installation whereas redhat just says “do whatever the f*ck you want but don’t call me when your geriatric stuff breaks.”

the software defeats can often be overridden with documented boot parameters, though. In other words VMware isn’t outright blocking you; they’re just putting a “are you sure you really want to do this” bridge troll in your way. I don’t personally find this offensive.

the more complicated thing about VMware is pci device compatibility. VMware in vsphere 7 dropped support for what were essentially standard Linux drivers—any pci device you want to use in v7 or newer needs to have vendor-provided native vsphere drivers. For newer hardware that’s not a problem but for older hardware a lot of vendors didn’t bother to spend the resources to create them. VMware gets blamed for that but really it’s the oem’s fault for preferring to make ewaste out of perfectly good hardware in order to force you to buy new stuff. If nvidia wanted to release a native vsphere driver for connect-x 2 nics VMware wouldn’t block them from doing so.

if you’re going VMware the one piece of advice I would give you is avoid intel core 12-14 gen processors; VMware hasn’t added support for their hybrid big.little cores to the os scheduler and has not plans to do so. You can work around it by disabling the e-cores in bios or by pinning vms to use only e-cores or only p-cores if you’re hellbent on using intel consumer gear.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stephan

zachj

Active Member
Apr 17, 2019
158
104
43
I for one find vsphere/esxi faaaar more intuitive for beginners than any other hypervisor. For a homelab you can get either free or low-cost vmug licenses. As of this moment I’m not abandoning them because of the Broadcom’s acquisition but I’ll admit I expect within a few years I probably will have—it seems likelier than not that Broadcom will run VMware into the ground by brutalizing its biggest customers and alienating its smallest customers (and outright victimizing most of its channel partners).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stephan

zachj

Active Member
Apr 17, 2019
158
104
43
I didn't realize they'd already nuked the free hypervisor. I'm not surprised to see that happen since I know there were plenty of commercial customers using it because it was good enough.
 

oneplane

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2021
845
484
63
Don't do it. Also weigh what you are doing against having someone else do it for you if it's about business use. The end goal can be achieved in many ways, including all sorts of passthrough and enterprise features (which is a vague and meaningless term anyway).

The smaller your usage and bag of money, the more you will have to know and do yourself, if you want to do it locally. For everything else there's public clouds that for serious work are almost always the better option if you don't have that in-house time, knowledge and budget.
 

gb00s

Well-Known Member
Jul 25, 2018
1,188
599
113
Poland
For a simple virtualized homelab or business lab you just need a stable distro like Debian or Alma and Cockpit, Git, Libvirt etc. No need to evaluate Proxmox, VMware or Hyper-V.

Btw cloud becomes more and more an issue of in-house time, knowledge and budget. But the worst part is data privacy and ownership. More today than yesterday.
 

hmw

Active Member
Apr 29, 2019
575
229
43
Im building a Vmware compatible server. Do I need to follow their "hardware compatibility" list exactly? I see that there are very very few motherboards listed that are compatible with the latest 8.0+ version. And even fewer in a normal mb format/size. The whole point of using vmware is max support and stability so mb choice is important to me. Any guidance would be appreciated.
You haven't described your use case for wanting to run ESXi but if you want max support and stability - it comes at a cost. However, you can get a refurb Dell R440/R450 or similar on eBay. Or a Supermicro Cascade Lake based tower if you prefer a non-rackmount form factor. Stick with supported CPUs, well known NICs like X710, X550 or ConnectX 4+. Pay close attention to SSDs for vSAN, especially the new ESA. I have 5 Dell R440 servers running ESXi, vCenter and NSX, so it is possible - just takes planning ahead.

But I also run ESXi on my Tyan S8030 + EPYC 7502 combo and both of the deployments have been ultra stable except when I tried to utilize passthrough on a P411W-32P switch. Other than that - it's been very stable.
 

zachj

Active Member
Apr 17, 2019
158
104
43
I’m a former VMware employee. Statements about incompatibility are far overblown.

most stuff works.

As I said previously the major thing to look out for is PCIe devices that don’t have native drivers; VMware dropped support for vmklinux drivers in v7 and most oems never bother to create native drivers for old hardware
 

oneplane

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2021
845
484
63
I’m a former VMware employee. Statements about incompatibility are far overblown.

most stuff works.

As I said previously the major thing to look out for is PCIe devices that don’t have native drivers; VMware dropped support for vmklinux drivers in v7 and most oems never bother to create native drivers for old hardware
I thought the major thing to look out for was Broadcom