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TrueNAS CORE Virtualized with ESXi

This article describes deploying TrueNAS CORE virtual machine (VM) in a VMWare ESXi environment. ESXi version 6.7 is shown in this article.

Before You Begin

Before starting configuration work in VMWare:

  • Allocate a drive or a few drives in your server cluster for the TrueNAS virtual machine. The anticipated storage needs for your deployment determines the size and number of drives you need.

  • Download the CORE 13.0 iso file from the TrueNAS.com/downloads web page.

  • Visit the TrueNAS CORE Hardware Guide and take note of the minimal system requirements. Also note the information in the Memory and Storage Device Sizing sections.

    The hardware guide provides guidance on how much memory, the number of CPUs, and drive size you need to configure. For example, you need a minimum of 2 CPUS, 8 GB memory, and two drives each with at least 16 GB storage. You can increase memory and drive sizes if you want to improve performance.

  • Determine your data storage requirements. Consider the number of storage pools and the type of storage you need for your deployment or how you plan to use the TrueNAS. See Storage Configuration for information on pool layouts.

    This article provides guidance on the number of virtual hard drives (vmdks) you want to create when setting up your virtual machine. For example, if you want a mirror layout you need to add a minimum of three drives. One for the boot drive and two for the mirrored storage. If you want a mirror with a hot spare, you need to add a minimum of four drives. One for the boot drive, two for the mirrored storage and one for the hot spare.

  • Configure your network per your system requirements. Have the information ready when you configure your TrueNAS global network settings in the web interface.

Deploying TrueNAS in VMWare ESXi

Launch your VMware ESXi interface using your login credentials.


Setting Up Storage

Set up the storage needed for the new VM. First click on Storage and then the drive allocated for TrueNAS. Create the datastore directories for the ISO media and the TrueNAS virtual machine.

Need more help setting up storage? Click here.
  1. Select Storage on the navigation panel on the left side of the screen.


  2. Select the drive you allocated for the TrueNAS VM. The example uses esxi07-hhd01. The detailed view for this drive displays.


  3. Click Datastore Browser to open the browser window, and then click Create directory. Enter the name of the directory in the New Directory dialog.


    Add two directories. The first directory is for the TrueNAS CORE storage needs the other for the TrueNAS-CORE iso file you downloaded (name directory ISOs). Choose a name that is easy to identify on a list of virtual machines. The example uses truenas1 as the directory name for the storage needs. Click Create directory in the New directory dialog to create the directory.

    Click Create directory again to open the New directory dialog to create the second new directory. When finished you should have both directories listed in the Datastore Browser window.


Uploading the TrueNAS ISO

After creating the ISO directory upload the TrueNAS CORE iso file to the ISOs directory.

Select the directory created for the iso file and then click Upload.


Creating the Virtual Machine

After setting up the storage needs, create the new virtual machine. Select Virtual Machines on the navigation panel on the left side of the screen.


Select the storage drive for the TrueNAS VM and then click Create/Register VM. The New virtual machine creation wizard displays. Use these settings:

  • On the Select a name and guest OS wizard screen, select Other for Guest OS family and then FreeBSD 12 or later versions (64-bit) on the Guest OS Version dropdown list.

  • On the Customize settings wizard screen set CPU to 2, set Memory to 16 GB, and Hard disk 1 to 16 GB.

    You need a minimum of two drives set to at least 16 GB. To add a drive, click Add hard disk.

    You can add more hard drive now or use the Edit option to add drives later after saving the new virtual machine. To create a mirror layout you need at least three hard drives, one for boot and two to create the mirrored storage. Add as many hard drives as you need to create your desired storage layout. You can add more drives later after you install TrueNAS.

Need more help using the ESXi VM Wizard? Click here.

To create the virtual machine for your TrueNAS, from the Virtual Machines screen:

  1. Click Create/Register VM to display the configuration wizard. On the Select creation type screen select Create a new virtual machine and then click Next.


  2. Configure the VM name and guest OS settings. Type the name for the TrueNAS VM. Use the name you gave the new directory. The example uses truenas1.


    Select Other from the Guest OS family dropdown list of options. Select FreeBSD 12 or later versions (64-bit) from the Guest OS version dropdown list of options. And the click Next

  3. Select the storage drive you allocated for the TrueNAS VM. The example uses esxi07-hdd01. Click Next


  4. Enter these settings in the Customize settings screen.


    SettingValue Description
    Memory8 GB
    Hard disk 116 GB. This first disk is the boot disk.
    CD/DVD Drive 1Select Datastore ISO file from the dropdown list of options.
    1. Add the second required disk. Click Add hard disk and select either New standard hard disk or Existing hard disk to add a second hard drive.


      In the New Hard disk row set the disk to 16 GB at a minimum.

      If the Location field does not display the drive and directory you created for TrueNAS, click Browse to open the Select directory window and select the directory for your TrueNAS deploment. Click on Select to change the location and close the Select directory window and return to the VM wizard screen.

      Change any other disk drive settings you want or need to change for your hard disk drive hardware.

      You can click Add hard disk again to add more hard drives if you want to equip your VM with more hard drives than the minimum required number of hard drives or you can click Next to finish creating the VM. You can use the Edit option later to add more drives to support your TrueNAS deployment.

      Each storage layout has different disk minimum disk requirements. Visit Storage Configuration for information on pool layouts

    2. Review the Ready to Complete screen to verify the settings are correct for your deployment.


      Click Finish. The new TrueNAS VM displays on the list of virtual machines.


Reviewing the New TrueNAS VM

To view the VM details screen click on the VM name.


You can now edit your TrueNAS VM to change any setting or add more hard drives to support your deployment, or you can proceed to installing TrueNAS.

Installing TrueNAS CORE

Click Power on and then click Console to display the dropdown list of console options. When the console opens it displays the TrueNAS 13.0-RELEASE Console Setup screen.


Follow the instructions documented in Console Setup Menu to complete the installation of TrueNAS.

Editing the Virtual Machine

You can edit your VM settings after you complete the initial setup. You can add new hard drives to your VM using the Edit option found on the VM details screen. Click Edit to display the Editing Settings screen.

The Edit Settings screen resets the Memory setting back to MB so you must re-enter your 8 GB setting before you save and exit.


After you re-enter 8 GB in the Memory fields, you can add more hard drives to your VM. Click Add hard disk and select the option you want to use. For a new drive select New standard hard disk. A New hard disk row displays highlighted in green.


To edit the hard disk details click on the row to expand it and display the drive settings you can configure.