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Linux CentOS 7 install on VMware vSphere with open-vm-tools

This article covers the main steps for a Linux CentOS 7 install in a VMware vSphere environment together with the open-vm-tools. Same virtual machine will also be used for a PostgreSQL and pgAdmin deployment. The purpose is to create a sandbox environment and learn how to deploy and protect this popular database server and operating system as well.

The idea is to provide protection by leveraging the Veeam Agent for Linux and also create additional rules for custom SureBackup jobs. More articles and configurations specific to Linux CentOS will follow. The idea is to reproduce in a homelab possible enterprise scenarios with the intent to test and tweak the production environments when ready.

The overall Linux CentOS 7 install process is very easy and straight forward. For this purpose a VM with a single disk will be used which is enough for the initial OS installation and software updates and the latest versions of PostgreSQL 11 and pgAdmin 4. Pleasantly surprised about the speed of the installation, the look and feel and the overall experience seems to have improved a lot and the desktop GUI is very responsive. Actually Linux CentOS 7 VM is running with just 2 CPUs and 4 GB RAM Memory. Never seen the VM using more than 800 MB of RAM which it makes a good candidate for additional applications as well. First ones will be PostgreSQL, pgAdmin, Apache and more.

All the required binaries for the installation are included in “DVD ISO“. There is also an “Everything ISO” which also includes all the sources for the binaries. and it is also a lot bigger. Almost twice the size of the DVD ISO. The first one is sufficient to complete the Linux CentOS 7 install with a full desktop environment along with the most popular applications. Should more or new packages be required it is possible to automatically install them using “Yum” an excellent package manager included in the main install.

Linux CentOS 7 install on VMware

From the vSphere Client let’s create a new virtual machine to start with the Linux CentOS 7 install.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install create a new machine

Let’s provide a virtual machine name and the folder location.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vm name and folder

At this point in the wizard let’s specify the VMware vSphere Host associated to the VM.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware compute resource

In the storage selection we can choose between available datastores.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware select storage

At this point the wizard shows the available “virtual hardware templates” for compatibility purposes. Unless there are earlier versions of the vSphere Hosts this VM should work with, the latest version is always better.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware select compatibility

In this step it is possible to choose the desired template for the Linux CentOS 7 install. In this case the 64-bit version.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware selcet guest OS

For the virtual hardware the following settings provide very good performances:

  • 2 CPU
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 40 GB Disk

As per screenshot in the wizard the CD drive is configured to point directly to the CentOS installation ISO file. For the network optionally a Port Group which provides access to a DHCP would be great. In reality during the installation it is possible to configure manual and DHCP network settings.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware customize hardware

And finally a quick summary from the wizard showing the main details before committing.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware wizard

Everything is ready to start the with the Linux CentOS 7 install. From the boot menu the options to install, test the media before proceeding with the deployment and also the troubleshooting section. Eventually the ability to start the install with parameters specific to the hardware used. In the case of a VM the virtual hardware is fully identified and installed with the proper built-in drivers.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install vmware remote console

In the welcome screen we can select the desired language. This choice also gives/changes the desired keyboard layout. The text box is useful to test special characters for strong passwords.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install welcome screen

At this point it is just matter of choosing the specific configurations for each section. The incomplete ones are highlighted with an orange icon.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install settings

In the case of the “installation destination” the wizard offers a default partitioning scheme suitable for the large majority of installations and based on detected hardware. Eventually it is allowed to create a custom partition layout. Useful for Server Applications requiring specific configurations.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install drive partition

Next is the network configuration. In this case my preference is to configure a manual IP address having the FQDN already setup for this server.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install network configuration

There are plenty of settings organised in pertinent tabs. From IPv4 let’s select Manual and provide the IP addresses.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install network

Once ready and verified the network settings, let’s click on “Done” and continue.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install network review

For this install a full desktop experience is used with GNOME Desktop and in addition a set of commonly used applications. Other ones can be easily installed using the built-in Software Manager.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install software selection

At this point everything is ready to begin the Linux CentOS 7 install.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install begin

During the initial copy and install of the binaries the wizard prompts for the creation of a root password and a non-admin account.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install root password

The creation of a simple user with no admin permissions is a great idea from a security perspective.

A few minutes later the installation phase is completed. A reboot is required at this point.

On the first boot the wizard shows an initial setup page to accept the licensing (still free!). With an automated install this step can be omitted. Since the network is connected we can proceed to the next step.

Let’s accept the license and continue.

We can now finish the configuration.

In the getting started just a few questions about social profiles and locations.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install Gnome welcome

The Linux CentOS 7 is now ready. Next steps include installing open-vm-tools and run all the OS updates.

domalab.com Linux CentOS 7 install desktop

Right click on Desktop to open the “Terminal” and issue a “su” command to impersonate the root account providing the password at the installation time.

Using “yum” package manager let’s install the open-vm-tools with:

“yum install open-vm-tools”

Yum will automatically search and check the dependencies in the built-in repositories.

Let’s click on “y” to the question and yum will proceed with installation. Job done. Open-vm-tools are installed and running!

Next from Applications > Software Update the option to check for all updates for the installed packages part of the default install. At the time of writing a bit more than 200. Thing is they are very small and do not take long to download and install.

A few minutes later the Linux CentOS 7 install is up and running with the latest version.

Next article will cover the installation of PostgreSQL and pgAdmin on Linux CentOS 7.


About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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