How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX.

[Updated 16 September, 2013]

Until recently I had been running my ESX VM’s on local disk.  This is mostly due to not having enough time to get some shared storage up and running.

I however was determined to get something up and running for my ESX lab so that I can play around with some of ESX’s more powerful, and interesting, features such as DRS, HA and VMotion.

As with most of you money is a serious consideration so as I am not in a position to implement a fibre attached SAN solution – though this would be nice.  The next best option is iSCSI.  I am running both VMware ESX 3.5 and ESXi 3.5 in my lab and both provide iSCSI functionality by default to connect through to an iSCSI target.

There are a handful of good free (free is always good :) ) iSCSI software that can be downloaded.  Some are standalone installs, others come in the form of virtual appliances and some both.

Here is a list of those that I know of (there will no doubt be many more):

I decided to give OpenFiler a go – as I’d  heard good things about the latest release, v2.3.  Here’s a link to a really good document on the OpenFiler site that details the underlying architecture.How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

The download link to OpenFiler can be found here.

As you can see there are many different downloads available.  I decided to install it on old Shuttle XPC PC I had lying about.  This server has 1GB of memory, Single AMD64 2GHz CPU and a single Gigabit NIC all of which are more than adequate for running OpenFiler.  I downloaded and installed the x86_64 version.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

I then burnt the ISO to CD and installed OpenFiler using the great graphical step by step installation guide provided on their web site.

For this lab install I have used the following network configuration.

Shuttle XPCOpenFiler (Shuttle PC)
NIC: Single port 1Gb

ML110 G5 ESX Server (ML110 G5)
ESXi 3.5.0 U3
NIC: Dual port NIC
IP#1 (iSCSI):
IP#2 (General Traffic):


ML115 G5 Management Server (Home Brew PC)
OS: Windows 7
NIC: Dual port NIC
IP#1 (iSCSI network – for management of OpenFiler):, IP#2 (General Traffic):


Once you have OpenFiler installed you can then access a web based management console which allows you to configure your new OpenFiler installation.

Opening a web browser and pointing it to the IP address (ie: https://<IP of OpenFiler>:446> of the OpenFiler server you should be presented with a logon screen like that below (love the fat Linux penguin).

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

At the prompt enter ‘openfiler’ for the ‘Username’ and ‘password’ for the password.  These details can be changed once you’ve successfully logged onto the management portal along with the ability to create additional accounts and groups.

Step 1 – Network Access Configuration:

The first thing to do is set up the ‘Network Access Configuration’.  This is the host or subnet (depending on how granular you want the access to be) you wish to provide access from.  Select the ‘System’ tab and from the ‘Network Access Configuration’ section at the bottom of the page enter in either the IP from which you wish to access the OpenFiler  from or enter in a whole subnet from which the Open filer will accept traffic from.

As I am running a secure lab environment I am just going to enter in the whole subnet for ease.  You may want to be a little more granular if using this in a production or non-secure environment.

Make sure that the ‘Type’ is set to ‘Share’.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Volumes – Important Information (for the clarity of mind).

Before we go any further I just want to point out some potential confusion that can arise when creating, assigning and configuring the various ‘Volume’ parameters within OpenFiler.   There are 3 volume items we’ll be dealing with in the next few steps.  I personally found this a little confusing at first so thought I’d try and throw down some clarification around this area:

1. Physical Volume – Assigning space on a physical disk for use in a Volume Group.

2. Volume Group – Contains Physical Volumes from which a Logical Volume will be created.

3. Logical Volume (LUN) – This is what is presented through to a server (eg: ESX).

Now with that out of the way.. on with the show!

Follow these steps in order to configure your OpenFiler SAN and present it through to VMware ESX/ESXi.

Step 2 – Create a New Physical Volume:

We need to create a physical volume which we will then present through to a Volume Group.  To do this select ‘Block Devices’ from the ‘Volumes section’ menu.How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Select ‘Edit Disk’ on the hard disk you want to create this new physical volume.

Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you will see the available spare space on this disk along with some other parameters. If you are not intending to create a RAID set  for your physical volume then select ‘Physical volume’ as your partition type and select the ‘Mode’ as ‘Primary’.

Adjust the start and end cylinders to determine the size of physical volume and when satisfied press the ‘Create’ button.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

You will then be shown a summary of the partitions on this disk.  Notice that the ‘Physical Volume’ I just created appears on the list (bottom).How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Step 3 – Create a New Volume Group:

Next we want to create a new ‘Volume Group’ for the ‘Physical Volume’ we created to reside in.  Click on the ‘Volumes’ tab and then select ‘Volume Groups’ from the ‘Volume section’ menu on the right hand side menu.

Enter in a ‘Volume group name’ and select (check box) the physical volume to which you wish to associate the Volume Group.  Then press ‘Add Volume group’How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

You should now be presented with a new Volume Group that looks like this:

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Step 4 – Create a Volume:

We now want to create a ‘Volume’.  Click on ‘Add volume’ from the right hand ‘Volumes section’ menu.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Now select the ‘Volume Group’ you just created and press the ‘Change’ button.  You will now be presented with the following screen where you determine the size of the ‘Volume’ your going to create within your ‘Volume Group’.

For this example I’m going to create a ‘Volume’ that occupies the entire space of the ‘Volume Group’.  Enter in the ‘Volume Name’ and determine the size by either keying in the required space or using the slider bar.  Then for the ‘Filesystem/Volume type’ select ‘iSCSI’.  This lasts part is important to all of this working so make sure it is set correctly (ie: iSCSI)!

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

When your happy with your settings press the ‘Create’ button.

Once the ‘Volume’ is created you will be greeted with a screen with a nice big green coloured pie chart in it which is indicating the amount of the ‘Volume Group’ that the volume has consumed.  Which in this example is all of it.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

This is now everything to do with creating a volume completed.  We now want to enable the connectivity side of things (ie: allowing other PCs/Servers to connect to the OpenFiler SAN).

Step 5 – Enable the iSCSI Target Service:

Click on the ‘Services’ tab of the main window.

Next click on the ‘Services’ tab and enable the ‘iSCSI target server’ (see below).  By default it is set to ‘Disabled’.  For connecting the OpenFiler SAN through to an VMware ESX/ESXi host we don’t need any of the other services enabling.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Step 6 – Add an iSCSI Target:

Returning to the ‘Volumes’ section of the OpenFiler web interface select ‘iSCSI Targets’ from the ‘Volumes section’ menu on the right hand side of the screen.

We first want to create a new iSCSI target and do by select the first sub-tab called ‘Target Configuration’ in the ‘iSCSI Targets’ section.  I personally keep the default ‘Target IQN’ generated by OpenFiler though you can alter it at this stage if your want.  Now press the ‘Add’ button.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

You will now be given a screen with a summary of the settings for the new iSCSI Target.

Step 7 – Map the LUN:

Now select the ‘LUN Mapping’ tab and click on the ‘Map’ button.  There are no other settings that need changing.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

Step 8 – Allow access to the iSCSI Target:

Select the ‘Network ACL’ tab and from the ‘Access’ drop down list box select ‘Allow’ (Note: it is set to ‘Deny’ by default) and then press the ‘Update’ button.  This allows the IP range we defined in step 1 access to the iSCSI Target we just created.

How to configure OpenFiler v2.3 iSCSI Storage for use with VMware ESX

You may have noticed the next menu tab which is called ‘CHAP Authentication’.  In this section you would specify a logon name and password with incoming access to this iSCSI target.  I am not worrying about configuring this as it is just a temporary set up for my test lab.  Though if you are think about setting something up which will be a little more permanent then I’d definitely recommend enabling CHAP authentication. This’ll need enabling and these credentials specifying on the ESX side of things – but is very easy to do.

Open Filer Configuration Stage Finished!

This is now a basic OpenFiler configuration up and running with a LUN ready to be added to ESX.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are ever thinking of implementing OpenFiler for use with ESX in a production environment then it is highly recommended to keep the iSCSI network separate (for security and performance) from all other general type traffic and to apply CHAP’s encryption.  In my lab I have created two VLAN’s on my Linksys SLM2008.  One for general network traffic and the other for the iSCSI traffic.


Step 9 – VMware ESX iSCSI Configuration:

Open up the VMware Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC) and select the ESX server that you want to add the iSCSI storage to.  From the ‘Configurations’ tab in the right pane select ‘Networking’.  You will now be presented with the networking configuration for that ESX server.

ESX iSCSI Configuration

As you can see my particular install of ESX is using ESXi.

I have created a second Virtual Switch and have allocated a VMKernel port on the second NIC port (which is patched into the VLAN) which I have given a IP address.  The is the port that the iSCSI traffic will use.

If you are configuring this using ESX 3.5 then you will also have to add a ‘Service Console’ port to this newly created Virtual Switch.  If you don’t do this you’ll get this friendly reminder:

ESX iSCSI Configuration

We now want to look at the ‘Storage Adapters’.  Click on this option in the ‘Hardware’ menu.ESX iSCSI Configuration

You will see that there is an iSCSI Software Adapter already in place – though currently not enabled.  All that needs doing is to configure and point it to the OpenFiler LUN(s).  Notice how all the iSCSI related details are currently blank.

Click on the ‘iSCSI Software Adapter’ and select ‘Properties’.

ESX iSCSI Configuration

The status of the iSCSI Software Adapter is initially set to ‘Disabled’.  We want to enable it and assign the relevant details.  Click on ‘Configure’. Check the ‘Enable’ status box and click ‘Ok’

ESX iSCSI Configuration

The iSCSI properties will now be populated (see below).  I won’t go into the format of the iSCSI name and alias though the VMware Infrastructure 3: Advanced Technical Design Guide and Advanced Operations Guide has a good section on iSCSI and explains these details.

ESX iSCSI Configuration

Clicking on the ‘Dynamic Discovery’ tab and selecting ‘Add’ we are presented with an ‘Add Send Targets Server’ dialogue box.  This is where we’ll enter the IP address of our OpenFiler server/SAN. (Note: the ‘Static Discovery’ tab is only used when using a hardware iSCSI initiator)

ESX iSCSI Configuration

After entering in this IP information and pressing ‘Ok’ it can take a little while before iSCSI server is detected.

ESX iSCSI Configuration

With these new iSCSI setting we are prompted to re-scan the host.  Select ‘Yes’

ESX iSCSI Configuration

After ESX has finished its re-scan you should now see the LUN(s) appear that you created in OpenFiler.

ESX iSCSI Configuration

With this shared storage and a couple of ESX servers you can now start using some of the more interesting and powerful features of VMware ESX such as VMotion and HA (assuming you have the appropriate license  :) ).

As mentioned this is purely intended as a rough guide to getting OpenFiler up and running with VMware ESX.  OpenFiler has plenty of other great features and is worth investing some time into.

Hope this guide helps.   Good Luck!



  1. Peter says

    Nice post but that’s a lot of work!

    I use my general purpose Solaris mail/file server as my ESX iSCSI storage:

    zpool create mirror c0d0 c1d0 mypool
    zfs create -o shareiscsi=on -V 250TB mypool/vmstorage

    ..that’s all that’s required on the server side and I get all the advantages of ZFS too.


  2. don says

    Peter, sure, but anytime you use a cli vs a gui the APPEARANCE is shorter. But really, however you setup the iSCSI piece, you still have to setup vmware iSCSI and that is over half this article.

  3. Ced says


    You show only ONE ESX server in your configuration. Have you tested with 2?
    Because Openfiler authorize only one iSCSI connection at a time… How do you do to connect the two ESX and test HA, Vmotion and so one?


  4. JFK says

    Late reply, better than never :)

    I just finished implementing 3 ESX servers targeting the same 2 LUNs provided by an OpenFiler 2.3 server. I’m here to tell you that vMotion works flawlessly, watching the status page of OF I don’t see any reason for concern with system resources.

    Pre-requisite: Virtual Center, I’m using 2.5.

  5. HazeWare says

    I a noob to VMware, so bare with me. Im trying to build lab VMware for my house, I’m stuck at the networking part where you mentioned you’ve created a second virtual switch with VLAN. I just have a regular hub and Im unable to perform a VLAN. Am I required to perform a VLAN? Plus, I dont see the “ISCSI software adapter” option, under storage adapters.

    VMware ESX 3.5

  6. HazeWare says

    I have updated the security profile / firewall for the software iscsi client and still cant see the iscsi software adapter under storage adapters… am i doing something wrong

  7. rockymtntuna says

    I’ve followed the instructions and can make the connection but show 0 targets.

    Any ideas? I’m using ESXi 4.5.0 and openfiler 2.3

    Have checked the LUN mapping and network ACL access on openfiler but no luck.

    The iscsi connection is on a separate NIC and switch in ESXI.

  8. says

    I’have a few questions – probably someone can help me in this (esx 3.5U2 and openfile 2.3).

    The iqn entered in the esx server (name change requires a reboot) must be the inititor name (and therefore different from the iqn of the iqn target name as defined in the openfiler – is this right ?

    I have 2 esx-servers – for failover they should connect to the same storage. Can they connect to the same iqn or is it better to provide a secondary target iqn for the second esx ?

    After some experiments with bonded/trunked ports it looks like my share was damaged (coud not reconnect). Are there any tools to check vmfs storages or to

  9. Segway Chauffeur says

    The only thing that took a lot of work was the time Simon put into making this post so the rest of us would spend LESS time getting it up and running. Thank Simon!

  10. Al says

    I have two VI ESX 3.5 boxes each with 2 NICs on an isolated 192 subnet and an Openfiler 2.3 with 2 NICs on the same subnet. How would I configure HA without a DNS server? Thx!

  11. Donald POmpey says

    Hi my name is Donald. i am trying to configure openfiler iscsi for my VMware ESX Server if you can help i would appreciate it very mach.

    Thank you

  12. says

    Hi my name is Donald. i am trying to configure openfiler iscsi for my VMware ESX Server if you can help i would appreciate it very mach.

    Thank you

    Hi Donald,

    What problem(s) are you experiencing?



  13. Anthony says

    Hoping someone can help me test OF 2.3 and esxi iscsi connection. Steps are below:
    1. Installed OF 2.3 as a vm on esxi (host#1). (Did not use appliance)
    2. configured iScsi on OF and was able to map the lun.
    3. On a separate esxi (host#2), I’m trying to connect to the iScsi target.
    a. On host#2 I created a iscsi connection using vmkernel on a seperate port from the esxi host management network
    b. My ip address for the iscsi connection is in the same subnet as my OF vm.
    c. On the iSCSI Software Adapter (vmhba32) of host#2, I’ve enabled and configured the iScsi initiator
    d. On OF, the IP of the step(a) is allowed access to the target.


    1. No luns appear after scan job. What happen? what have I missed?

  14. says

    I followed your guide and I have created an iscsi target in OF 2.3 and I mapped the LUN and granted access to the ESX server. I configured the iscsi storage adapter in VI but I cannot get it to see the storage any help or advise out there?

  15. rockymtntuna says

    In my case I could not get the iscsi storage to show up until I corrected the values under “network access configuration”

    for my network the values are:

    name: localnet
    type: share

  16. says

    OF has an ip of
    my ESXi box has an ip of

    I added the ip for my esx box in OF and also added the ip access in the Network ACL list but I try to add the ip for OF in Virtual Infrastructure and it scans but does not find any available storage. I only have one nic so I cannot create a virtual switch for iscsi.

    I have both connected directly to an 8 port gigabit switch and my OF box has two nic’s that are teamed to the ip listed above.

    Any ideas on how to get this working?

    I am running ESXi off of a USB Flash drive but everything seems to be working I can get into Unsupported mode on ESX and it sees everything correctly it is just not seeing the iscsi storage on OF.

  17. says

    Did you have to open up port 3260 on either OF or your ESX server or both? just wondering if this could be my issue. I have a D-link 8 port gigabit switch that both my ESX and OF are plugged into and the switch is plugged into a D-link wireless N router.

  18. says

    Awesome instructions. I was able to hook up my lab in one afternoon. I am also getting more involved in ESX, Sharepoint, Windows Server 2003K, 2008, and SBS.
    Thanks for such good references. I will add you to my favorites.

  19. says

    Awesome instructions. I was able to hook up my lab in one afternoon. I am also getting more involved in ESX, Sharepoint, Windows Server 2003K, 2008, and SBS.
    Thanks for such good references. I will add you to my favorites.

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the feed back. I have a ton of ideas for future articles so keep checking back. :)



  20. says

    Did you have to open up port 3260 on either OF or your ESX server or both? just wondering if this could be my issue. I have a D-link 8 port gigabit switch that both my ESX and OF are plugged into and the switch is plugged into a D-link wireless N router.

    Hi CDub,

    Are you still having problems with this?

  21. says

    I figured out the problem in Open Filer I had to set my subnet mask for my ESX box to and then it will see the iSCSI shares in ESX if I set the subnet mask to it will not see the iSCSI volume in ESX. Hope this helps others out there trying to set this up on a 192.168.x.x subnet.

    • Dan says


      Thanks for posting this solution, this seemed to correct my problem of not seeing the LUN in ESXi.


  22. says

    I also found that the iSCSI adapter in VMWare wouldn’t detect the LUN for some reason so I also had to edit the file on OpenFiler /etc/initiators.deny and remark the line defining the target. (using vim from command line)
    Not sure what implications this has but it works for my test environment.

  23. says

    I also found that the iSCSI adapter in VMWare wouldn’t detect the LUN for some reason so I also had to edit the file on OpenFiler /etc/initiators.deny and remark the line defining the target. (using vim from command line)
    Not sure what implications this has but it works for my test environment.

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for taking to time to let us know – that will no doubt help others.



    • Jason Eastwood says

      After editing the /etc/initiators.deny and remarking the line defining the target, I rescanned and the lun showed up!

  24. says

    This looks great! I tried to connect 2 ESXi servers to the same LUN on my iSCSI SAN (Buffalo Terastation Pro II iSCSI), and each time that I connect the ESXi server, it wipes out the storage on the LUN, and I cannot connect with the 1st ESXi anymore.

    I have only 1 question: How do you connect 2 ESXi servers to the same iSCSI LUN simultaneously?

    (I’d like to use VMotion)

  25. Anthony says

    For those who were able to map the iscsi lun on OF but was not successful connecting the luns after the scan in esxi. When creating the connection to the OF server, make sure you use the same “Target IQN” as state on the OF server. This should solve your problem.

  26. Anthony says

    One other comment: when you enter the ip of the iscs initiator host(s), make sure you use subnet

    Good luck to all.

  27. says

    I had stated that in an earlier post because it ties the single ip if you have your subnet mask as you have a range of possible ip’s when it is set to there can only be one ip assigned.

  28. MickDann says

    Excellent article ! I’ve had ESXi and OpenFiler running for months but try as I might I could not get the ESXi host to find the iSCSI target – it seems I’d set the volume up incorrectly, but thanks to your excellent instructions it’s now working – thanks very much for sharing.


  29. lostbeatle says

    Simon, this is splendid, thank you very much. Do you have a preference between the ML110 or ML115? I can’t really see a difference. Also, if you were to buy some storage for a home lab – any frugal recommendations? Is the Shuttle your preferred choice?
    Kind thanks

    • says

      Hi James,

      I have no real preference between the two of them TBH. They are both really good servers and ideal for the ole home/work lab. I guess the ML115 G5 (AMD) has the advantage over the ML110 G5 (Intel) at the moment as it offers a quad core CPU – as opposed to the ML110’s dual core.

      I do like the Shuttle XPC’s because of their small size. I only used one for my filer as I had one lying around that used be my main PC a few years ago.

      OpenFiler is pretty flexible when it comes to the hardware it’ll run on and doesn’t require a particularly large amount of CPU or memory resource. A decent 1Gb Ethernet adapter is highly desirable though.

      If you have some old kit kicking around you could most likely get it running on that.

      Failing that EBay has some cheap older shuttles for sale quite often. My shuttle is a Shuttle XPCSK21(G10) AMD model.

      Let us know how you get on. :)


  30. Pierre says


    I was stuck for hours trying and retrying settings but it would not work.

    Finally I found this tutorial and I saw right away that I missed the “Map LUN to Target”. As soon as I did that it worked.

    Also, thanks for explaining the different types of volumes and that I could disable all other services besides iSCSI Target, that cleared stuff up for me.

    Great job.

  31. rickyhg says

    Awesome. This is the second post on this website that I have found EXTREMELY useful. Many thanks for that. I followed these instructions and everything just worked.

    Now, how about a post on how to add OpenFiler to a Windows 2008 Active Directory :-)

    Thanks Again


    • says

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for stopping by TechHead. Glad you found some of the posts useful. :)

      Hmm, a post on adding OpenFiler to W2K8 AD could be good. I’ll add it to my list of articles to write.

      All the best,


  32. BrianAU says

    Thanks for a great article, just starting to work up a Windows 2008 cluster. Really appreciate the guidance on OpenFiler, iSCSI and vmware.

  33. k995 says

    I also had problems finding the luns (keep getting 0 targets) untill I edited the /etc/initiators.deny file on the openfiler.

    Just open with VI, retyped the last word ALL and saved and then it worked.

    THX everyone for the help.

  34. ethanone says

    I need to have a single volume for my VM greater than 2TB. What is the largest single volume you can make with an iSCSI solution? I think ESXi can only see a LUN up to 2TB, but I thought you could make a bigger datastore than that. Has anyone had experience over 2TB?

    • lukasware says

      OF will export an iSCSI LUN greater than 2TB
      (i’ve done 5) the OS have to support GPT partitioning (usually 64 bit OSes do including XP64 and Vsita 64. VMware ESX does not and it’s 32bit until ESX 4.0 (end of may?). But you can span mutiple 2TB VMFS together I think…

    • says

      @whtech Yes, i installed ESX 4.0 with Openfiler 2.3. Read about it [url=]here[/url].

    • says

      Hi whtech, I sure have and it works just fine. In fact I found connecting to the Open Filer iSCSI target from ESX 4.0 to be quicker. :)

  35. lukasware says

    OF works great with ESXi 4.0, make sure you get the 2.3.1 “respin” which has 2.6.26 kernel as this installs better on modern hardware. I skip all that network access stuff and just create the iSCSI lun (as above, but with write-back and fileio) and then map it (as above). Saves time because the ACL was jsut another barrier to getting vmotion and vstorage motion working. with ESX/i 4.0 3x I/O performance improvement and 10x iSCSI performance improvement (and finally support for jumbo frames) makes sense to pretend ESX3.5 never existed.

  36. Nyle says

    Ok, so I easily got iSCSI up and running with these great instructions. Well except for one problem – I’d like to have two LUNs. One for a 2TB volume and the other for a 1TB volumes.

    I’ve tried just mapping the two LUNs to the one target without luck and then tried creating two targets and mapping one to each. No matter what I do I can’t get the second LUN to show up in the iSCSI Software Adapter.

    I’m using ESX 3.5.4 and Virtual Center 2.5.4. I’ve tried editing the initiators.deny file as suggested without luck.

    Does anyone have any ideas or is this something that isn’t supported by Openfiler?


    • Nyle says

      Never mind, I got it working by removing all the configuration after a full upgrade and reboot and doing it all again.

      Then I found out about VMWare LUN size limit. My 3TB LUN only showed as a much smaller storage location. So, I undid the larger 3TB volume and broke it into two separate 1.5TB volumes. Then mapped those two to the target.

      I now have three LUNs – 1TB, 1.5TB and 1.5TB.

      Once all my ESX servers could see it I then added a VMFS 2 storage locations. The second one I added the second 1.5TB LUN to as an extent.

      Now I’m fully in business. Thanks for these great instructions.

      • says

        Hi Nyle,

        Glad it worked out ok for you. :)

        Thanks for letting us know of your experience as this will be most useful to others.



  37. pfitzpatrick says

    great article. Got it working for the most part. However, we only have 1 nic and we tried to associate that as well to the virtual network. Once we did and hit ‘ok’, we lost connectivity (VM Client, ssh). The machine seems to be up and running as we have a sql server on that box as well and it seems to be up.
    Can you offer any suggestions.

  38. pfitzpatrick says

    just as an after thought to my initial post – we don’t want to reboot the box in case it doesnt come back up. We do have console access at the box, so we are hoping there is some way to delete the changes we made.

    • says

      Hi Patrick,

      I’ve only just read your message. How are you getting on with the issue you mentioned?

      I wouldn’t recommend using a single NIC on your ESX host for both your virtual network and iSCSI traffic. If you don’t have any other choice then you would should consider using VLAN tagging to split the two traffic types up. Are you also using this single NIC for your management traffic to the host also (ie: VM Client, SSH, etc)?

      Let me know how you’re getting on. :)



      • pfitzpatrick says

        Thanks for the reply Simon.
        We made significant progress yesterday/today…in that we managed to get the box back up and on the network with all the services available.
        We made use of command line config files to delete any/all references to the new switch/virtual net(esxcfg-nics/esxcfg-vmknic/esxcfg-vswitch, for everybody’s info. These files are located under /sbin).
        Once we deleted the references, we rebooted the box, but we were stumped/gutted for a minute when nothing was working. Turned out that when we went into the network/nic card administration, the nic card was not enable. Checked that and we were suckin diesel again.
        Thnanks again Simon.

  39. jasontech says

    Here’s my issue. I have 5 nics in my OF Server. 1 Built in 10/100 I have setup with 192.168.0.x and it is connected to my main network for console use only. I have 4 other nics with 192.168.50.x it’s on a separate network and I can not get ESX to see the iSCSI Lun. If I put the 4 nics to the 192.168.0.x network it works. I have a vKernal setup with 192.168.50.x and it is using a dedicated NIC on the Esx server.

    • says

      Hi Jason,

      I would recommend looking at splitting your iSCSI (OpenFiler) traffic off onto a seperate subnet and if using the same physical switch as the other traffic (eg: VM traffic) then look at using VLAN tagging. Although this is not necessary it will help keep things seperate.

      I’m not saying that this is cause of the issue you mention as if (correct me if I’ve misread this) you put your iSCSI port on the 192.168.0.x network you can connect your ESX host to your iSCSI based LUN presented from your OpenFiler server?

      If this is the case then your OpenFiler server has it’s network port (assuming it just has one) configured to the wrong subnet (ie: 192.168.0.x and not 192.168.50.x). How I think it should look:

      Build in NIC –> ESX Management – 192.168.0.x

      3 x NICs –> 192.168.50.x – VM Traffic (or perhaps 2 x NICs for VM Traffic and then 1 x NIC for vMotion)

      1 x NIC –> 192.168.60.x (new subnet) – iSCSI traffic. Ensure that the OpenFiler iSCSI port is also configured to use an IP on this new subnet. You could always use one of the 4 NIC ports you’ve got as a failover NIC for iSCSI traffic – though you’d really want seperate physical switches to get the most benefit from this resilient configuration.

      Hope this makes sense and that I read your message ok.



  40. says

    Excellant documentation. I managed to figure out how to do it myself before I found this article but like the guy above, I can find the iSCSI LUNs when I use my main Vswitch on the two ESX3i servers (172.25.120 mask but I have a separate Dual Gigabit NIC in both ESX3i servers and also in the OF Appliance. I setup one interface in the OF as and the other as and one ESX3i server has a NIC setup as and the other ESX3i as with direct cable from Openfile from each ESX3i server to the Openfiler on the relevant NIC. I can Ping each ESX3i server from the Openfiler console but when I try and discover the LUN after changing the Target in each ESX3i box to the relevant or, it fails to find the LUN but if I change it back to it finds the LUN straight away. Any Ideas.

  41. leon says


    I really want to thank you for such a good step by step article to setup iscsi on openfiler. I really appreciate your efforts and time spent on this article.


  42. cesarmc3 says

    Hi Simon,

    First off, thanks for you posts. I’ve learned much because of what you write. thank you thank you thank you.

    Now, I was reading through your openfiler setup with VMware, and i was wondering you already run into this issue: I have 4 ESX host. I can only connect 3 host to openfiler using iscsi. Everytime I connect the 4th one, one of the connected 3 will lose its connection to isci, and if I look into the vmkernel logs, it would display something like:

    Sep 17 17:27:17 esx22 vmkernel: 0:07:24:41.099 cpu0:4194)WARNING: NMP: nmp_DeviceAttemptFailover: Retry world failover device “t10.F405E46494C454003363162625F6D266072393D23333C677” – issuing command 0x410004034e40

    I thought the solution was to change the MAXConnection setting in openfiler, but the default setting is “1” and I can successfully connect 3…so I’m a bit lost.

    Hope you can shed some light into this.

  43. neokanobi says

    GREAT GUIDE !!!!

    That is what I have been looking for a while, found parts and bits but not a very complete guide that focus on the confusing part of the OpenFiler process (Volumes).

    I hope the OpenFiler folks hire you to create their next guide. :-)

    I have a question regarding the subnetmask.

    I have a lab network and I use 192.168.1.x ip address range with subnetmask all my VM and ESX hosts communicate with no problem between eachother but I read in your forum that people had problem making OpenFiler see the ESX server when they use this subnetmask and had to change to to work. Will I need to change mine subnetmask so my ESX server can see openfiler ?

    Thanks for your asssitance.


  44. neokanobi says


    One more question.

    I did not find yet in any guide that would give me the answer to my question below:


    I have Windows 7 running Vmware workstation 6.5 I created inside of the Vmworkstation 2 ESX 3.5 (VMs) on it. I want to install OpenFiler and make the 2 ESX servers (vms) see the shared Storage so I can test VMotion, DRS, HA features.

    I downloaded the iso image for OpenFiler 2.3 x86 and I want to install OpenFiler through my Vmware Workstation.

    Since there is no instructions in how to do this I believe you would need first to create a NEW VM option on my Vmware Workstation 6.5.

    There I selected linux 4 64 bit and so forth. And selected install OS through the DVD (my openfiler iso I burned on a DVD).

    My QUESTION is during the VM creation when it gets the time to select disk space size it usually shows 8 gigs (default). But since I’m creating Openfiler and I want to have at least 50 gigs of disk space to be shared and used by the 2 ESX hosts.

    Is it here on this step where I would change from 8 gig to 50 gigs and then after OpenFIler is installed that I would go inside and configured the 50 Gig diskspace into shared storage ?

    The above step I did not find anywhere yet. So if you guys could assist I would really appreciate it.

    I read one guide that said that he had a OpenFiler.VMK and he used it and did not explained the settings that he selected or were selected when he used the OpenFiler.VML

    I tried looking to download this VMK file but it does not seem to be available anymore.

    The steps that I did above creating a VM, and Disk space, etc are these the recommended ones that you guys also had to do it or do you recommend another approach to install OpenFiler and have the 50 gigs disk space available to be shared between ESX hosts (vms). ?

    Thanks for any assistance on this matter.


  45. rp2000 says


    2 questions:

    1. How many disks does the shuttle PC have?
    2. Can you use Openfiler with just 1 physical Disk (I realise you could not use RAID) just to test it as a SAN storage for 2 X ESX(i) Hosts and test HA etc?

    Thanks in advance.

    • says

      Hi there,

      My shuttle has two disks – though I have recently moved my OpenFiler to a ML110 G4 as I can fit up to 4 drives in it.

      You certainly can use OpenFiler with one disk. The ESX/ESXi hosts you connect to the shared disk that the OpenFiler presents don’t mind whether this disk is in a RAID configuration or not. All they (the ESX/ESXi hosts) care about is that they have some shared disk and from there you can test HA, DRS, FT (CPU permitting). Of course, as you no doubt know, by not having RAID you are not protected from physical disk failure and coule lose everything if this was to happen.

      Hope this helps.



      • rp2000 says

        Cheers for the quick reply.

        At present I have bought 2 ML115s to use as the ESX(i) Cluster. I am not sure If I can get access to a 3rd machine that has more than 1 disk drive (hence my question). Ideally I would like a 3rd OpenFiler box with 2 disks to use RAID, but may have to settle for a single disk, proof of concept, machine to begin with (maybe just an old desktop, if I can get hold of one).

        I may have a HP XW4300 that I can use as the OpenFiler at a later date and I think this can hold 4 disks etc, although (physically) it is bigger than a ML115!!

  46. says

    Always a pleasure reading your posts.

    Giving it a shot with a decommissioned x345 32bit IBM server with heaps of space but cant be otherwise useful for anything else…than put openfiler nas linux and use it to beef up some more space for all the esxi servers.

    Awesome instructions


  47. Guardeon says

    Great “How to”!!
    Implementing works without any Problems on DL380G3 (openfiler), MSA, and DL380G5 (ESX4.0).

    Thank You

  48. says

    Great post. Well written and very usefull. Thank you verry much, I’ve just finished in minutes something that bothered me all day long without this how to.

  49. kemar says

    Hi’ I’m a newbie at networking and I’m having trouble setting up HA in my network for one of my class. The problem is that I have 2 ESX server box, and a SAN box. The goal was to put all my vms on my SAN box and then connect with the ISCI connect to one of my servers, and then create a cluster with the other one, so that if one goes down, I have the other one to back it up. The problem also is that when I trying to connect the storage adapter to my esx box, it doesn’t show up on my server. I was wondering if I should create a trunking port connection from my SAN box to my switch so that it can communicate with any of my VLANS. Please help.

    • says

      Hi Kemar,

      Sorry for the delay in replying to your message – did you end up fixing this or is it still causing you a problem?



      • kemar says

        No I’m still having trouble with the configuration, for some reason ESX server wont communicate with my openfiler box, Im starting to think that my switch configs or router configs might be wrong.

        • says

          Maybe keep it simple with the configuration for the time being, ie: keep your OpenFiler and ESX host on the same subnet, if you’re not already doing this. Although this isn’t following VMware best practice at least you can determine whether it is working ok or not. Also, you shouldn’t have to change (eg: VLAN) anything on your switch.



  50. says

    Hi There,

    I wondered if you could help me? I have recently moved our vCenter install to a more stable server, removed the license from our existing vmhost (running ESX 4.0),disconnected the host and uninstalled vCenter. Installed vCenter on to another server, installed fine, no problems, added our new host, also running esx 4.0, with no errors, but when I tried to add our existing host, vCenter gave me the following error:

    “Cannot install the vCenter agent service. Not enough space on device.”

    After I got this i found out how to uninstall the vCenter agent from the host by running the following commands:

    1. established if the Virtual Centre agents are installed by running this command ‘rpm -qa | grep vpxa’ and I got this reply ‘VMware-vpxa-4.0.0-162856’.

    2. I then stopped all the services by running the following:

    service mgmt-vmware stop && service vmware-vpxa stop && service vmware-vmkauthd stop && service xinetd restart

    3. I removed the Virtual Centre agent by running ‘rpm -ef VMware-vcpa-4.0.0-162856’

    4. I then removed the ‘vpxuser’ by running ‘userdel vpxuser’

    5. Restarted the services by running:
    service mgmt-vmware start && service vmware-vmkauthd start

    6. I waited a few minutes and then ran ‘vmware-cmd -l’ to make sure the services had restarted.

    Now once the services had restarted, I tried to added the host again but it gave me a different error:

    “Cannot install the vCenter Server agent service. Unknown installer error”

    Any ideas as to what might be wrong? I would be grateful for any help at all!!

    Many thanks,

  51. kleanchap says

    Thank youuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Your article comes straight to the point without explaining too much of the technology features. This is where you capture the normal users who are bigger in number. Thank you once again!

  52. Mike says

    I have successfully installed openfiler and connected using iscsi to the two luns. One has been set up to hold my virtual machines and the other to hold my iso images. I have no idea how to upload my iso images to the lun on the openfiler. I have connected using WinSCP to the openfiler server but now I do not know how to add my iso images. Any help appreciated and thanks for a easy to follow tutorial … just what a beginner like I needed. Thank you

  53. says

    Thanks for the guide! I fiddled with the options in OpenFiler for iSCSI for some time and I just couldn’t get it done! Your guide got me up and running in 10 minutes! Greatly appreciated.

  54. gusbrown says

    Thank you for posting this guide. I am running OF 3.2 on a DL385G1, ESXi 4.1 on a DL360G5 and am now able to access my iSCSI datastore under ESXi. It turns out I needed these comments to get the job done, however, as I needed to comment out the line in /etc/initiators.deny as Peter Barfield mentions.

    There were a few other spots where I stubbed my toe:

    1) Did not catch how far down I’d have to scroll, in some instances, in the OF config web pages.

    2) I’d left my floppy drive enabled in BIOS on the DL385 (OF box) which caused i/o errors to occur continually on /dev/fd0, which in turn kept me from being able to do much in the web console to configure OF. Disabling it was all it took to calm things down.

    3) Authentication within OF proved to slow me down a bit too – read two different guides from other sources. One of them incorrectly advised me to include the FQDN for a NETBIOS name (duh! I should have known better), which put it over the limit for name length.

    1) Best practices?
    2) VLAN configuration, considerations?
    3) Performance tuning?

    Again, great work.


  55. Luis Anderson says

    dude you save my life !!!! , I used your guide and i can backup my Virtual Machine and then install new disk in the RAID and restore them back YOU ARE THE MAN !!!

  56. Rufus says

    Great clear and nice decribtion on how to make OF and ESX work together.
    But (yes there is always a BUT :-)) i cannot get it both to work with ESX4.1 and or ESX4.1i the OF part seems all OK but ESX does not find the correct LUN’s or seems not to be able to connect to OF.
    is there already someone that has successfully get this to work??
    So or ESX4.1 / ESX4.1i with OF 2.3 working together ??

  57. Jimmy Teo says

    I have 2 esx v4U2 server running on VM in my VMware workstation v6.5.5
    I have followed your instruction and managed to have my 1st esx server to connect to the iscsi lun, add as storage and formated as vmfs.

    I try to connect my 2nd esx server to the same LUN using the same method but failed.

    Any tricks on howto connect the 2nd esx server to the same storage? I want to test Vmotion.

    Tks & regards.

  58. Mike M says

    Thanks Simon – Excellent article.
    I have 6 production servers running on 3 esxi Hosts – and no budget to buy VMWare management software – so this helps me a lot with moves between hosts etc.
    If you were in Melbourne I would buy you a beer.

  59. Kabbo says

    Hello Simon,

    Very nice article; Here is my situation and see if you can help me out. I have two physical servers with 8GB of RAM on one and 4GB of RAM on the other. I tried Oracle VM and Oracle Virtual Box both unsuccessful and a lot of times wasted. These two physical servers (not VMS) both have RHEL 5 with update 5 installed on them. I am a Senior Database Analyst and am in the process of getting my OCE (Oracle Certified Export) certification for Grid Infrastructure for Oracle 11g R2. I have plenty of spaces on both server and both servers has 2 NIC card each, one onboard, and the other on a PCI slot.

    I also have a personal PC , HP, that is with 3GB of RAM and 500GB of space and , of course , an on board NIC card for internet access and windows 7 home premium OS installed.

    Here is my question: Is it possible that I can install Openfiler software in this PC and have a 1 TB external USB hard drive hooked up to it and set it up as a Shared Storage device for my two servers to access it when I install Oracle 11gR2 RAC software on those two servers?

    Do I need one extra NIC card on each of my servers to communicate privately to this PC for Shared Storage access? Will this setup be technically feasible?

    I will really look forward to your technical advice. Please respond to me via email. I am also sending this to you via your email so that I could have in mailbox.


  60. Stevie M says

    Great article and helps a lot of people including myself. There was one thing that I felt wasn’t really explained and couldn’t really find it anywhere (may well have been in the admin guide but you had to purchase that) and that was how do you configure for multiple connections to a single LUN as OpenFiler only allows 1 connection per target.

    The solution for all those that have 2 or more ESX hosts and want to use vMotion is to setup multiple iSCSI targets on OpenFiler and for each iSCSI target you map the same LUN’s, this gives you the functionality of multiple connections to the same LUN for shared storage purposes.

    Once again this is a great article and also all the other articles you have written. It’s an inspiration for people who don’t have millions to spend on hardware but still want to play around with the latest technology.

  61. Jorge L says

    Thanks so much for all the effort put into this article. Very well written and so clear that is self-explanatory across different versions of the software.

    If just going through it took a lot of time, I just can imagine the amount of effort and time that you put towards it.

    Thanks again,

  62. says

    VERY BAD IDEA: OpenFiler & iSCSI


    SCSI Reservation Conflicts when using OpenFiler iSCSI Storage Devices
    When using OpenFiler to present iSCSI Storage to an ESX environment, you may experience these symptoms:

    Frequent SCSI Reservation Conflicts reported in the VMkernel logs
    Hosts become unresponsive to vCenter Server, vSphere Client, and SSH sessions
    Data corruption on the VMFS Volume

    OpenFiler uses IET which has the following caveats:

    Does not support SCSI Reservations.
    Inquiry commands do not conform to SCSI Specification.

    OpenFiler is not a certified storage solution for use within a VMware environment. Use a supported NFS server. For more information, see the Hardware Compatibility Guide.

  63. says


    Thank you for this article.

    would you please help me with the following once i created the whole stuff(mentioned above):

    1. how can i use this space in a Virtual machine on the same network (whose ip i mentioned in network access conf menu)?

    2. do i need to map this drive into my remote machine if so what would be the protocol (as in windows we write ftps://IP:PORT?

    3. If this storage space gets automaticaly mapped into te remote machines which were mentioned in net-access menu what would be the mount location by default??

    kind regards:

  64. Maz says

    Excellent doc! Very clear, concise and helpful for those of us new to storage administration and management. I will definitely share this with others who need the help.

    I am sending you a virtual high-five! *slap*

  65. Thomas Chacko says

    Thanks a lot for this guide — for a newbie to vSAN like me, those volume configuration in OF could be confusing– thanks for the clarifications.


  1. […] Setting up the volumes on the filer disks, to be made available as iSCSI volumes,  is performed using the Openfiler web management interface.  Openfiler is  a great piece of software but documentation for it is a bit thin on the ground, even the paid-for Administrators Guide  I viewed was something of a disappointment. Fortunately my ex-colleague’s blog has some excellent pointers to setting up iSCSI targets on Openfiler see . […]

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