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[RETIRED] VMware in the Cumulus Workbench (ESXi & VCSA)


Important! This article has been retired. Check out our GitHub site for the latest demos.

Some of the labs available in the Cumulus Workbench include hosts in addition to the Cumulus Linux switches. You may be required to run VMware software on them. This article describes how to install ESXi and vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA).



You will install ESXi on server1 and server2, exit maintenance mode on both and then deploy a VCSA guest on server1.

To connect to the VCSA, you'll use OpenVPN from outside the Cumulus Workbench.

Installing ESXi

From the workbench, update the APT cache:

cumulus@wbench:~$ sudo apt-get update

Install the ESXi operating system installer package:

cumulus@wbench:~$ sudo apt-get install cldemo-wbench-osinstaller-vmwareesxi55

The package will:

  • Set up a TFTP server on the workbench VM.
  • Configure PXELinux to network boot the hosts.
  • Extract the ESXi CD to the TFTP directory.
  • Add a kickstart file to automate the ESXi installation.
  • Install ovftool on the workbench VM.

To install ESXi on server1, run:

cumulus@wbench:~$ sudo cwng-pxehelper -s server1 -o esxi55 -n
* Copied PXELinux config for server1 / 01-00-25-90-2c-bd-30 * Attempting IPMI ( PXE first and reboot * Power is on, setting PXE boot and power cycling

Next, to install ESXi on server2, run:

cumulus@wbench:~$ sudo cwng-pxehelper -s server2 -o esxi55 -n
* Copied PXELinux config for server1 / 01-00-25-90-2c-bd-36 * Attempting IPMI ( PXE first and reboot * Power is on, setting PXE boot and power cycling

Once it's installed, the default username for ESXi is root and default password is password.

Exiting Maintenance Mode

After ESXi has been installed on the hosts, they will be left in maintenance mode. To exit this mode, SSH to each of the servers from the workbench VM and run the following commands:

cumulus@wbench:~$ ssh root@server1
~ # esxcli system maintenanceMode set --enable false
~ # exit cumulus@wbench:~$

Repeat these commands for server2.

Installing a VCSA

From the workbench, you can deploy a vCentre Server Appliance (VCSA) easily.

Using ovftool, push the VCSA ova file for the workbench mirror Web server to server1:

cumulus@wbench:~$ ovftool --noSSLVerify --powerOn "vi://root:password@server1/"

This starts the deployment:

Opening OVA source:
The manifest validates
Source is signed and the certificate validates
Opening VI target: vi://root@server1:443/
Deploying to VI: vi://root@server1:443/
Transfer Completed
Powering on VM: VMware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-
Completed successfully

Finding the IP Address of the New VCSA

Search the workbench syslog to find the IP address of the new VCSA appliance:

cumulus@wbench:~$ sudo grep -i 00:0c:29 /var/log/syslog
Oct 20 17:10:47 wbench-vm-406 dhcpd: DHCPREQUEST for from 00:0c:29:a2:2b:59 via eth1
Oct 20 17:10:47 wbench-vm-406 dhcpd: DHCPACK on to 00:0c:29:a2:2b:59 (localhost) via eth1
Oct 20 17:45:39 wbench dhcpd: DHCPDISCOVER from 00:0c:29:40:b1:2a via eth1
Oct 20 17:45:40 wbench dhcpd: DHCPOFFER on to 00:0c:29:40:b1:2a (localhost) via eth1
Oct 20 17:45:40 wbench dhcpd: DHCPREQUEST for ( from 00:0c:29:40:b1:2a (localhost) via eth1
Oct 20 17:45:40 wbench dhcpd: DHCPACK on to 00:0c:29:40:b1:2a (localhost) via eth1 has been allocated.

Note: The MAC address of the VCSA appliance will always include 00:0c:29, as that is the range assigned for VMware virtual machines.

Connecting to the Lab with OpenVPN(recommended)

To connect to the VCSA from outside the workbench, you need to establish a tunnel using OpenVPN.

First, you need to install OpenVPN on the workbench. To do so, run:

cumulus@wbench:~$ sudo apt-get install cldemo-wbench-openvpn

At the end of the installation, a URL is displayed, showing the location from which you will download the OpenVPN client configuration files. Also displayed are the username and password required to authenticate with the download site.

Follow the instructions on how to set up your OpenVPN client in the Cumulus workbench.

Accessing the VCSA with OpenVPN

After connecting to the workbench using OpenVPN, point your Web browser at the IP discovered above in the syslog. Continuing with our example above, it is

Enter the default VCSA credentials:

  • Username: root
  • Password: vmware

SSH access method

You can also use SSH port forwarding to access the workbench. You will need your workbench ssh port(this can be found in /var/www/wbench.json and replace the NNNN in the example) and the VCSA IP (as described above).

ssh -L 5480: -L 9443: -p NNNN

Replace all instances of in the following examples with Use the same ports as in the examples.

Setting up the VCSA

By accepting the EULA, the VCSA installer runs through the initial setup; you can skip the customer experience program section. At the Configure Options section, choose the default settings and click Next.

After selecting the default settings it will skip the through the next sections. To complete the installation click Start.

This initiates the default installation of vCenter. When the installer finishes, you will see the finished status below. Click Close to exit the installer.


After the installer closes, the VCSA Summary page appears. From this page you can stop/start services and perform administrative tasks on the underlying vCenter appliance.

Logging into vCenter

To log in to vCenter, point your Web browser at the IP address discovered above in the following URL:

Enter the default vCenter credentials:

  • Username: root
  • Password: vmware



Once you are logged in, follow the wizard to begin adding data centers and hosts. You can also jump directly to the vCenter->Data center section.

Create a default data center into which you will assign the host servers.

Enter a name for the new data center or be creative and use the default like this example.

Once the data center is created, select it and then click Add a host.

The servers server1 and server2 are set up on the DNS server (, so in the Host name or IP address field you can enter their hostnames, then click Next.

The login credentials are:

  • Username: root
  • Password: password

Install the host key for the servers by clicking Yes when you receive this security alert.

The next screen displays the host summary.

There are no license keys installed as this is a demonstration system. Choose No License Key and select Next.

You can optionally enable lockdown mode. In this example it is not enabled.

Select the data center and add the host to it. If you created multiple data centers, you can assign the hosts among any or all of them.

Once you are finished, review the summary. If you are satisfied, click Finish.

Repeat this section to add server2 to the inventory.



This support portal has moved

Cumulus Networks is now part of the NVIDIA Networking Business Unit! The NVIDIA Cumulus Global Support Services (GSS) team has merged its operations with the NVIDIA Mellanox support services team.

You can access NVIDIA Cumulus support content from the Mellanox support portal.

You open and update new cases on the Mellanox support portal. Any previous cases that have been closed have been migrated to the Mellanox support portal.

Cases that are still open on the Cumulus portal will continue to be managed on the Cumulus portal. Once these cases close, they will be moved to the Mellanox support portal.

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