You can install VMware ESXi on VirtualBox without having to deal with real hardware. Sure, the performances are not so good, but this setup it’s a little test lab you can use to take confidence with the ESXi platform.
The only limitation is you can virtualize only 32bit systems. Not a big deal…
To install ESXi on VirtualBox you need:
- a working installation of VirtualBox
- ESXi installation ISO
- a virtual machine configured correctly
First, create a new virtual machine (Linux based, like Red Hat 64bit) with at least 2 virtual processors, the IO APIC option, 2GB of RAM, a SATA storage controller and one of Intel network card. With 10 or 15 GB of storage (the virtual disk) you can install ESXi and a couple of virtual machines.
Now you can boot with the ESXi ISO installation the new virtual machine and follow the setup procedure…
Now, open your browser and go to the web administration interface (the IP address of the ESXi server, the second line on the yellow half screen). Install the vSphere Client to manage your brand new ESXi virtual installation 😉
NOTE: for this experiment I have used VirtualBox 4.1.22 installed on my Ubuntu Linux.