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Windows 7: TV tuners / Video editing etc on a VM via PASSTHROUGH

06 Apr 2011   #1

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers
TV tuners / Video editing etc on a VM via PASSTHROUGH

Hi all
I'm just starting to mess around with the latest version of vmware's FREE hypervisor ESXI 4.1 (note you need at least 4.1 or its upgrade U1 apparently to make this work).

When installing GUEST OS's you can use a facility now called PASSTHROUGH which allows the GUEST OS to use the REAL hardware such as some (but not all) video cards, pci cards and USB devices such as for example TV tuners.

I'm not sure whether this stuff ever worked satisfactorily in vmware workstation although most USB devices did work.

BTW once you get hooked on this stuff its VERY ADDICTIVE - unless you do this for a living at work which I don't.

read this for an example on Pass through.

Enable USB Support for ESXi with VMDirectPath

XP and W2K3 server Guest VM's work fine -- still haveing a few issues trying to get AERO effects on W7 Guest but I know its doable and I'm still in the learning phase of this.

I probably need a better "White Box" but was just using an old 4GB ASUS Mobo with a Quad core -- rubbish sata disks etc --however its fine for playing with.

Had to change the NIC but everything else was fine.

Great learning tool and running a hypervisor removes the overhead of a Host OS (and of course saves a Windows License if you were running vmware on a W7 / XP box).


My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Apr 2011   #2


I'm starting to be very interested in this... Never been into hypervisors but the development has indeed been so fast and fascinating I think I have to start playing

Jimbo, what kind of hardware / rig you would recommend for this purpose?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Apr 2011   #3

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Hi there

Pparks1 started me off -- for testing you can use a fairly limited White Box -- the main difficulty will be in getting the NIC to work as its quite picky. I got the INTEL 1000 PRO to work (single adapter) but depending on your needs you could use a multi lAN adapter. ESXI 4.1 or 4.1U1 (upgrade 1) are less fanatical about the hardware than previous versions.

Most onboard LANS on Home computer grade MOBOS won't work --if yours does you are licky but the Intel one is cheap and almsost every store on the planet will have them in stock.

I'd just install on any INTEL chip pased MOBO - you won't be too worried about performance at this stage so even slowish "home" computer grade SATA disks will be in order.

I'd go however for a QUAD CPU with at least 4GB of RAM

The other thing to note is that you'll need a separate Windows machine running the Vsphere Client to be able to define and install your VM's -- any old laptop will do for this purpose. I've got the VM's defined on "Data stores" on an old desktop.

The Vsphere Client is a Windows application so you will need at least initially a Windows machine to create your VM's. You CAN convert vmware workstation vm's too so if you have several you don't need to install the whole GUEST OS again.

The actual Hypervisor install iteslf is easy -- only uses about 2GB of disk space so you don't have to wipe all your Windows partitions (or Linux ones either).

I'm trying to install the Vsphere client as a Virtual machine on the server itself so I can define and access VM's directly on the server without the need for a separate computer -- but I'm still learning.

For much more professional approaches and details of peoples actual White Box hardware have a look at this site

Ultimate VMWare ESX Whitebox | Hardware: Motherboards

I'm still very new to this but so long as you can get a NIC card to work you can experiment with real cheapo solutions. Obviously in a real "Production environement" things like SCSI and RAID are important as well as OODLES of RAM and probably a lot more cores - but I'm just interested in learning at the moment.

BTW forgot to mention that ESXI 4.0 and above all need 64 bit CPU's - but I'd imagine this is fairly self evident. Enable the VT feature as well in the (REAL) BIOS if you have that option.

32 bit (as well as 64 bit) guests install OK.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Apr 2011   #4


I think I'm going to set up a box for this. You recommend using an Intel MoBo and NIC, which is OK for me. it's good to know Pparks and you are already testing / using, I think at least in the beginning I'm going to ask a lot of questions.

Thanks for the info, Jimbo.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 TV tuners / Video editing etc on a VM via PASSTHROUGH

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