On the Dell CS24-SC Server….


I sure anyone looking for a cheap rackmount server on eBay or many other sites has come across this server. It’s everywhere but information is hard to come by about it. Even Dell Support doesn’t know about this server. I recently purchased one with the intent on using it to upgrade my existing ESXi server (basically a Dell Studio 540 PC). I’ll be returning it but I wanted to do a quick review and list of features and resources I found in researching this.

The Dell CS24-SC are custom, 1U 2-way servers manufactured by a unknown company for clustered and cloud computing. They are full depth, about 28″ and weigh roughly 36lbs/16.3kg with 4×3.5″ drives. It has 2xGBic (1000Mbit) network ports running on the Intel® 82567 Gigabit Ethernet Controller and an additional 100Mbit management port. There are 2 USB 2.0 ports on the front and 2 USB 2.0 ports on the back along with a VGA port, Serial, and PS2 Keyboard/Mouse ports. It has a single PCI-E x8 expansion port on a riser. One major reseller is Stallard Technologies, Inc though most of the server on the market are resold through eBay. The closest PowerEdge server seems to be the Dell PowerEdge 1950 Gen III or one of the earlier PowerEdge C1100 Cloud servers.
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Manually upgrading ESXi 5.0 to ESXi 5.1

I finally got around to updating my ESXi server today. Since I don’t have the hardware to run vCenter and thus do not use it I had to do it the manual way. This method involves connecting via SSH but is relatively straightforward.

  1. Download the update from VMware. The following link should take you directly to your My VMware page: VMware
    1. The file should be named VMware-ESXi-<version>-depot.zip
  2. Suspend or shutdown any running VM’s and put the system into Maintainence mode.
  3. The next step is to enable SSH on your ESXi Server by going to Configuration > Security Profile > Properties. Start the SSH service and close the popup.
  4. From there you’ll want to upload the VMware-ESXi-<version>-depot.zip we downloading earlier to the server
  5. Once the zip has been uploaded, open Putty or your preferred SSH client and connect to the ESXi server.
  6. Log into the server from SSH and run the following command where <datastore> is the location of the zip we uploaded earlier and <version> is the version number of the file (in this case, ESXi-5.1.0-799733).
    1. esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/<datastore>/VMware-ESXi-<version>-depot.zip -p ESXi-<version>-standard
  7. Once the process is finished reboot the sever. If the update was successful take the server our of Maintainence mode, and resume your VM’s.

You’ll probably have to update VMware Tools for your VM’s but your server should now be running properly on 5.1 ( or whatever version you upgraded to, assuming the command isn’t changed/removed).

Convert a existing Virtual Disk on ESXi from Thick Provisioning to Thin Provisioning and vice versa

I was playing around on my ESXi server and noticed most of my servers were using under 10GB yet most where consuming between 20-45GB of datastore space. This is because when I set them up I went with the default setting of Thick Provisioning like many. So what do you do? I don’t want to reinstall my servers and loose everything. I also don’t want to waste space when I can afford new disks being unemployed at the moment.  After searching around I came across 2 nice articles on using vmkfstools to “convert” (it actually is cloning the disks) to Thin Provision and vice versa.
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