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[GUIDE] Lenovo x220 + ESXi + eSATA Port-Multiplier


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Hi guys,

I have been messing around with an old Lenovo x220 laptop with the intent of making a stable, low power, XPEnology NAS and seemed to have cracked it. I wanted to share my experience as it may help others looking to create a similar setup. This guide assumes that you've signed up for a free copy of ESXi.


Note1: The general format and some processes taken from LeeBear's [GUIDE] Nanoboot ESXi 5.5.0 Perfect Install because it's so damn good.


Note2: Following the instructions below constitutes an acceptance of the risk of data loss; I cannot be held responsible for any data or hardware losses.


Needed Materials:

1. Lenovo x220 or equivalent with ExpressCard Slot

2. At least one internal SATA Disk for laptop (I used one mSATA and one SATA - Allows for ESXi installation to one disk and XPENology install to the other)

3. StarTech ECESAT32

4. Mediasonic ProBox HF2-SU3S2

5. 4 - SATA HDD's for enclosure (I used: WD2003FYYS)


Needed Software:

1. ESXi 5.5 Installation ISO

2. ESXi Customizer

3. Net-e1000e VIB or Net-e1000e-2 VIB - NIC Drivers for ESXi

-> Check Supported Devices / PCI IDs -> Net-e1000e preferred, but I had to use Net-e1000e-2 as my PCI ID wasnt supported on Net-e1000e (8086:1502)

4. Sata-xahci VIB - AHCI (SmartCard SATA) Drivers for ESXi

5. Nanoboot- DSM 5.0-4528 X64 IMG

6. DSM 5.0-4528

7. StarWinds Image Converter

8. WinImage

8. Rufus - To create ESXi Install USB


Overview of Process:

1. Prepare Physical Platform

2. Create ESXi Install Media

3. Install ESXi from USB

4. Create Modified NanoBoot IMG

5. Create the VM

6. Install XPENology

7. #Optional# Create SMART Data Portal - Will post #2 - Working a few things out


Process Detail:

1. Prepare Physical Platform

- Install 2.5" sata (and/or mSATA if supported) into laptop/platform

- Install StarTech ECESAT32 ExpressCard into laptop/platform(use provided 34mm to 54mm spacer if applicable)

- See BIOS Settings at the end of the post

- Connect StarTech ECESAT32 ExpressCard to Mediasonic ProBox HF2-SU3S2 with eSATA Cable

- Connect power to Mediasonic ProBox HF2-SU3S2 (Following to be done on Mediasonic ProBox HF2-SU3S2)

-- Install SATA HDD's using instructions with enclosure

-- Press and hold interface button until SATA is lit (3sec)

-- Press Fan button to hard set fan level to 1 or 2 (1 is highest), Auto fan did not work well for me, drives got HOT

-- Press Sync button till Sync indicator turns yellow (this allows enclosure to spin down drives when laptop is off)


2. Create ESXi Install Media

#Stock ESXi install media will fail as it doesn't have necessary NIC drivers, follow below#

- Use ESXi Customizer to inject AHCI and NET VIB's linked above

-- Make sure to do one at a time, firstly pointing the customizer to the stock ISO and the second time point it at the modified ISO

- Insert USB and use Rufus to wipe and place Modified ESXi Install media on it (make sure to select ISO image at the bottom and select the modified ISO created above)


3. Install ESXi from USB

#You may want to disconnect eSATA cable to enclosure to avoid installing to the wrong disk#

- Insert USB into X220

- Boot, pressing F12 during post

- Select USB drive for boot

- Install ESXi to internal drive (I installed to mSATA leaving secondary internal SATA SSD for XPEnology install)


4. Create Modified NanoBoot Disk

#Modify IMG file to prevent boot drive from showing up in DSM#

- Start up WinImage

- File -> Open, Select “NB_x64_5032_DSM_50-4528_Xpenology_nl.img”

- Browse to \boot\grub\menu_nano.lst right click -> Extract on menu_nano.lst

- Open menu_nano.lst that you just extract with Notepad (preferred Notepad++)

- Add the “rmmod=ata_piix” (without quotes) to the end of the line that starts with “kernel /ZImage”… after "vga=0x305"

#ie. kernel /zImage ihd_num=0 netif_num=4 syno_hw_version=DS3612xs sn=B3J4N01003 vid=0x0EA0 pid=0x2168 loglevel=0 vga=0x305 rmmod=ata_piix#

- Save this modified syslinux.cfg file and “Inject” it back to the img file using WinImage (overwrite the file when asked)

- Save Current Image before you exit WinImage


Convert Nanoboot IMG to VMDK and upload to Datastore:

- Start up Starwind V2V converter

- Choose the NB_x64_5032_DSM_50-4528_Xpenology_nl.img file we modified above

- Choose “VMware pre-allocated image”, Choose “IDE” type

#Choosing "IDE" type is very important#

- This will created 2 vmdk files, NB_x64_5032_DSM_50-4528_Xpenology_nl.vmdk and NB_x64_5032_DSM_50-4528_Xpenology_nl-flat.vmdk.

- Create sub-folder in Datastore (configuration tab -> Storage -> right click drive -> Browse Data Store -> New Folder [i named it NanoBoot])

- Upload both vmdk files to the sub-folder created in previous step, they will merge to a single vmdk file automatically.


5. Create the VM

- Use VSphere Client and Create new Custom VM on your ESXi host.

- Name it

- Store VM files where you want (I used Data Store on mSATA)

- Choose Virtual Machine Version 8.

- Choose any 64 bit Linux as Guest Operating System. (I used Ubuntu Linux 64-bit)

- Configure CPU/RAM according to what you have. (I used 1 socket, 2 cores, 4GB RAM [My X220 has Core i5 w/8gb RAM)

- Choose “VMXNet3” as network adapter.

- Choose “LSI Logic Parallel” as SCSI Controller. (VMware Paravirtual may work as well)

- Choose Do Not Create Disk if using mSATA or other secondary SATA disk for XPENology, create virtual disk if not

- Check “Edit before completion of VM”

- Remove CD and Floppy Drive from VM configuration. (Not necessary but I like removing superfluous devices)


Create Raw Device Maps:

#If you disconnected eSATA cable, connect it now and re-scan storage, or connect and reboot ESXi host#

- Create RDM sub-folder in Datastore (configuration tab -> Storage -> right click drive -> Browse Data Store -> New Folder [i named it RDM])

- Enable SSH either from ESXi console on X220/platform or through vSphere

- SSH into ESXi host

- List disks with command: ls /dev/disks/

- Look for something like t10.ATA_____[DISK ID]_____[sERIAL #]

- If using secondary internal SATA disk for XPENology issue command: vmkfstools -z /vmfs/devices/disks/DISKID /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDM/FILENAME.vmdk:

#I used "vmkfstools -z /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.ATA_____Samsung_SSD_840_Series__________________[sERIAL #]_____ /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDM/XPENologySSD.vmdk"#

- Create RDM's for HDD's in enclosure:

#I used "vmkfstools -z /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.ATA_____WDC_WD2003FYYS-02W0B0__________________[sERIAL #]_____ /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDM/2TB-Disk1.VMDK"#

#& "vmkfstools -z /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.ATA_____WDC_WD2003FYYS-02W0B0__________________[sERIAL #]_____ /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDM/2TB-Disk2.VMDK"#

#& "vmkfstools -z /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.ATA_____WDC_WD2003FYYS-02W0B0__________________[sERIAL #]_____ /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDM/2TB-Disk3.VMDK"#

#& "vmkfstools -z /vmfs/devices/disks/t10.ATA_____WDC_WD2003FYYS-02W0B0__________________[sERIAL #]_____ /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/RDM/2TB-Disk4.VMDK"#


Edit VM to include NanoBoot and RDM's:

- Right click VM and Edit Settings

- Add a hard drive

- Choose “Use an existing virtual disk”

- Choose the NanoBoot vmdk you uploaded in the previous step. (ie datastore1 -> NanoBoot -> NB_x64_5032_DSM_50-4528_Xpenology_nl.vmdk)

- Make sure drive is set as IDE (0:0) and check “Independent -> non-persistent”

#IDE (0:0) is important because this is the boot disk that starts up Nanoboot#

#non-persistent is important because it prevents the non-booting situation after you do the DSM install. Technically explanation is during DSM install all hard drives gets repartition including the nanoboot drive, the non-persistent setting makes these changes temporary and after reboot the original nanoboot boot partition is returned.#

- If using RDM for XPENology install do the following:

-- Choose “Use an existing virtual disk”

-- Browse to [Data Store] -> [RDM] -> [XPENology RDM] (ie. XPENologySSD.vmdk)

#Make sure drive is set as SCSI (0:0)#

- Add Enclosure HDD RDMs

-- Add a hard drive

-- Choose “Use an existing virtual disk”

-- Browse to [Data Store] -> [RDM] -> [HDD RDM] (ie. 2TB-Disk1.VMDK)

-- Repeat for all Enclosure HDD RDM's


6. Install XPENology

- Open console to XPENology VM and power on

- Select second option: Nanoboot ( DSM 5.0-4528 Install/Upgrade

- Leave it on the default option for the second menu.

- After a little while it will boot and you should see "DiskStation login:" at the bottom of the page.

- Go to find.synology.com in your browser on your other system then wait for it to scan for your new DSM (requires both devices to be on the same subnet e.g 192.168.0.X).

- Press the "Connect" button for the appropriate device.

- Press the "Next Arrow" then select "Install DSM from my computer...".

- Then press "Choose File" and select the downloaded PAT file (DSM_DS3612xs_4528.pat) and press "Open".

- Press the "Next Arrow" again and then choose a password and server name then uncheck the "Hybrid Raid" checkbox.

- Press "Install Now" and accept the "DATA LOSS" Warning (you shouldn't have data as this is a clean install).

- After a little while it should be installed and the system will reboot.

- When the system is rebooting do not change the menu options and just leave it default.

- Once you see "DiskStation login:" at the bottom of the page your installation of DSM 5.0 4528 is done.


BIOS Settings (the following applies directly to Lenovo x220 - may need adapting for your platform):

--Press ThinkVantage button during post, then F1 to BIOS Settings (All setings default unless listed)

--Restore Defaults with F9



----Ethernet LAN Option ROM = Disabled


----Trackpoint = Disabled

----Touch Pad = Disabled


----PCI Express Power Management = Disabled



----Intel Virtualization Technology = Enabled

---I/O Port Access:

----WiMAX = Disabled

----Wireless WAN = Disabled

----Integrated Camera = Disabled

----Microphone = Disabled

----Fingerprint Reader = Disabled



----Set HDD intended for ESXi installation as the first option


Further notes:

-Cannot upgrade to 5.1 as of yet

--Upgrade instructions to follow as time and progress permits

-Can upgrade to DSM 5.0-4528 Update 1



VMware ESXi installatie



Installing ESXi On the N54L or similar hardware

http://cyanlabs.net/Thread-Installing-E ... r-hardware


Install Synology DSM 5.0 (4493) (ESXi / Non ESXI)

http://cyanlabs.net/Thread-Install-Syno ... i-Non-ESXI

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