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How to Thin Provision on VMware ESXi 3.5 Free version

April 29, 2009

VMware does not offer a supported method to create a thin disk on the free version of ESXi 3.5. Thin = only allocate space as the guest OS demands. The GUI, Virtual Infrastructure Client, only creates zeroedthick disks (pre-allocated and zeroed on demand), therefore using up much more space than required. The command-line tools, RCLI, either on Windows or in VIMA, are read-only, therefore don’t work for anything useful. If you try, you get an error fault.RestrictedVersion.summary; in other words - you’re not allowed to do that. But there is a way:

On the console (the yellow server console), press ALT-F1.
Type the command unsupported (you won’t see your typing) and you’ll get a password prompt.
Enter your root password, and then you should get a busybox prompt.
Use the vmkfstools to create your disk, like this:

vmkfstools -c 10G -d thin -a lsilogic /vmfs/volumes/[Your_Datastore]/[YourGuestOS]/ThinDisk1.vmdk

If you ls -lh the directory, it will show the full size, but if you df -h you’ll see that very little space was actually used.

While you’re on the hidden console, might as well enable ssh access, too:

vi /etc/inetd.conf and uncomment the ssh line. Look up the Process ID, ps | grep inetd, and restart it with kill -HUP [pid]

Yeah, pretty cool.

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