Proxmox

Nested Proxmox VMware installation in ESXi

In working with clients and different environments, you will definitely see many different hypervisors used across the landscape of enterprise organizations. While I recommend VMware vSphere for business-critical enterprise workloads to customers, there are use cases where I see other hypervisors used. Proxmox is a really great open-source, free hypervisor available for use and is even developed for use in enterprise applications. I also know of many in the community running Proxmox in their home lab environment. If you are like me and like to play around with technology, hypervisors, and other cool geeky stuff, I find I load a lot of different solutions in the lab. Let’s take a look at nested Proxmox VMware installation in ESXi and see how you can easily spin up a Proxmox host in a vSphere VM.

What is Proxmox?

Proxmox is easily administered using a rich, fully-featured web interface that actually looks and feels nice. While it is not in my opinion where the vSphere client is in look and feel, it is quite nice and does the job needed to administer the Proxmox environment.

Proxmox VE is an open-source hypervisor platform for enterprise virtualization. It provides many features needed to run production workloads, including virtual machines, containers, software-defined storage, networking, clustering, and other capabilities out-of-the-box. It is based on Linux, so you get the pure Linux experience for virtualization, containers, and other facets. Note some of the benefits:

  • Open-source software
  • No vendor lock-in
  • Linux kernel
  • Fast and easy installation
  • Easy-to-use with the intuitive web-based management interface
  • Low administration costs and simple deployment
  • Huge active community

Nested Proxmox VMware installation in ESXi

The first thing you need for your nested Proxmox VMware installation in ESXi is to download the Proxmox ISO for installation. You can download the Proxmox ISO here:

You will mount the ISO to your virtual machine in VMware vSphere like you would any other OS installation. Create a new VMware vSphere virtual machine with the following details:

  • Guest OS Family – Linux
  • Guest OS Version – Debian GNU/Linux 11 (64-bit)
Proxmox VMware virtual machine settings
Proxmox VMware virtual machine settings

Next, make sure to expose hardware-assisted virtualization to the guest OS for your soon-to-be Proxmox installation. As most of us are familiar with in our nested ESXi labs, this is a simple checkbox in the properties of your VMware ESXi virtual machine under the CPU settings.

Exposing CPU hardware virtualization to the guest OS
Exposing CPU hardware virtualization to the guest OS

After booting from the ISO, the Proxmox VE 7.1 installation begins. Select to Install Proxmox VE.

Booting the Proxmos 7.1 VE installer
Booting the Proxmos 7.1 VE installer

First things first. Accept the EULA to proceed.

Accept the EULA for Proxmox VE 7.1
Accept the EULA for Proxmox VE 7.1

Next, you can customize the disk partition layout if you choose. However, for my nested Proxmox VMware installation, I am accepting the defaults.

Select the disk partitioning to be used with the Proxmox VE 7.1 installation
Select the disk partitioning to be used with the Proxmox VE 7.1 installation

Next up is setting your location and time zone configuration.

Set the location and time zone
Set the location and time zone

Configure the password for your root account. Also, Proxmox has you enter an email address.

Set the administrator password and email address
Set the administrator password and email address

Configure the Proxmox hostname and your network configuration.

Set the hostname and network configuration
Set the hostname and network configuration

Finally, we come to the Summary screen. Here, review the configuration and validate your settings. Then, click Install.

Summary of the Proxmox VE 7.1 installation
Summary of the Proxmox VE 7.1 installation

The installation process begins.

Proxmox VE 7.1 installation proceeds
Proxmox VE 7.1 installation proceeds

After finishing the installation, the Proxmox server will reboot. Below is the boot screen captured as it reboots from the installation.

Proxmox VE 7.1 boots as a VMware ESXi VM
Proxmox VE 7.1 boots as a VMware ESXi VM

Finally, we are logged into the Proxmox web GUI using root and the password configured during the installation. Overall, the nested Proxmox VMware installation in ESXi was straightforward and easy. If you want to play around with Proxmox in a nested configuration, VMware vSphere provides a great way to do this using the basic functionality we have used for quite some time with nested ESXi installations.

Logged into the Proxmox VE 7.1 web interface
Logged into the Proxmox VE 7.1 web interface

Wrapping Up

Proxmox is a cool hypervisor that provides a lot of features in an open-source, freely available download. The latest Proxmox VE 7.1 release has a lot of out-of-the-box features and can be used to run production workloads. If you want to play around with Proxmox, running the hypervisor inside a nested virtual machine in VMware ESXi is a great way to gain experience with installing, operating, troubleshooting, and other aspects of the virtualization solution.

You can learn more about Proxmox from their official page found here:

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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9 Comments

  1. What if I want to be able to have guests vms in different vlans? How do I enable trunking through from ESXi?

    1. z3roCoo1, yes you would need to trunk at the vSwitch level and then also physical switch as well. But having trunking with the backing vSwitch would allow assigning different VLANs from the Proxmox side.

      Brandon

  2. For some reason when adding a VM with my nested ProxMox install within ESXi – my set up will not distribute a DHCP IP address to the VM within Proxmox, therefore rendering it unattainable – any thoughts?
    I think it has something to do with my network within ESXi.
    Thanks so much! Love watching all your videos.
    John M.

    1. John,

      Thank you for your comment! You will need to enable promiscuous mode and forged transmits on your vSphere virtual switch for your nested configuration to have proper connectivity.

      Brandon

      1. Brandon,
        I am battleling with this for the past two days. thank you so much.
        I did not understand why i can ping my host and not my gateway or anything else on the same sub; i am new to the ESXi enviroment.
        Coolio.
        thanks

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