The Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) in VMware ESXi

       459 words, 3 minutes

Looking for a option to replace my DS409slim, I discovered that it is possible to run the Synology system, aka DSM, on a simple VMware virtual machine. You’ll need a special boot loader from XPEnology and the stock Synology firmware.

The first thing to get is the boot loader. From, I grabbed the XPEnoboot 5.2-5592.2 DS3615xs ISO file.

Then, from Synology support page, I grabbed DSM 5.2 for DS3615xs.

Now it’s time to create the virtual machine. From the vSphere 5.5 client, create a customized “Other Linux 2.6.x (64 bits)” machine. VM version is 8 and I gave it 1 vCPU and 1GB of RAM. The network adapter is E1000 and the SCSI adapter is LSI Logic Parallel. Configure the CD-ROM to be the XPEnoboot iso file and check the connection options at boot time.

Before starting the VM, go to ESXi shell and edit the VMX file, adding the following line:

bios.bootOrder = "cdrom,disk"

This will force the VM to use the boot loader at boot time.

Time to boot the VM. When the XPEnoboot prompt appears, select « XPEnology DSM 5.2-5592 Install/Upgrade ». Wait for the system to boot until console shows « DiskStation login: ».

Start the Synology Assistant from you workstation. Right-click on « DiskStation » and choose « Installation ». Select the official DSM downloaded “DSM_DS3615xs_5592.pat”. Fill-in the admin password and machine name. Leave « Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) » creation option checked. Fill-in the network settings. Wait for installation to complete…

You’ll be notified when it’s done and redirected to the web interface.

I’ve tested it quickly, it’s really smooth. In fact, I wanted to know how much RAM what required for DSM5 and the services I run on my DS409slim. From my testing, RAM never went above 33% ; so I think 512MB would be enough for me. An DS414slim has 512MB… :)

I also did a few disks access testings. One of the virtual volume is a VMDK lying on an SSD installed in the ESXi. The other is a VMDK stored on a NFS shared published by the actual DS409slim. I did copy a bunch of M4V files from my MacBook to the AFP shares of my actual DS409slim, the VM volume on SSD and the VM volume on DS409slim NFS share. To the DS409slim, the transfer rate is about 10-15 MB/s ; yeah, even in wireless, that stinks a bit. To the SSD volume, the transfer rate was nearly 30-40 MB/s. To the NFS volume, the transfer rate was about 15-20 MB/s ; and DS409slim CPU was nearly 100%. I should try to publish some iSCSI storage ; maybe this will lower CPU usage and I’ll see if transfer rate can be better with those 2.5" 5400RPM disks.