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A Beginners Guide to PROXMOX

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Posted · Original PosterOP

PROXMOX is a powerful hypervisor used for hosting containers and virtual machines. The Operating System is available for free while offering repositories that you can pay for with a subscription. This guide will go over How to install the OS, How to disable the subscription notice and enterprise repositories that aren't free (if you're not interested that is), How to configure your virtual machine pools, How to add a CIFS network server, How to download and install Templates for Containers, and how to install your first Virtual Machine.


proxmox.png.33c1a09d12f8e6ca317dc85162264e8c.png

 

1. How to Install PROXMOX

Spoiler

You are going to require at least two thumb drive here if you plan to install to a thumb drive. I recommend using one no smaller than 32GB. 64GB+ if you can. If you must 16GB will suffice but you will be very limited in how much data you can put on it. PROXMOX can be downloaded from their website (PROXMOX) as a .ISO file (DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT RIGHT NOW. I'll explain why.). For Windows users Rufus is a very popular tool for creating bootable thumb drives. Unfortunately Rufus will not work with PROXMOX as the installer has the expectation that you've burned the .ISO to a physical CD. When using Rufus the installation will fail not far in and start searching for the CD that isn't there.

 

There are other .ISO mounting tools for Windows but instead we are going to use a Linux CLI tool known as dd. If you've never used Linux before you can run it off a thumb drive. For simplicity we can use Ubuntu 19.04. For this Rufus can be used to install the Ubuntu.ISO. Once it's installed boot to it from a computer. If you don't press anything once the USB boots it should bring you to the Ubuntu desktop on it's own. If not hit enter on "Try Ubuntu without Installing". This will run a live image of the OS without installing anything. From here insert the thumb drive to be used for the PROXMOX installer.

 

Using the included browser (Firefox) navigate to the PROXMOX website and download the .ISO (current version 6.0-4). This should land in your downloads folder. To get there look at the task bar on the left of the monitor. The fourth icon down is a folder called "Files". Click this. On the window that pops up click "Downloads". Our .ISO should be the only file in the folder. Now open a terminal by right-clicking in the window and selecting "Open in Terminal". Now we need to find out the drive letter Ubuntu gave our thumb drive. We can do that by using the command:


lsblk

This will list your connected drives, capacities, & partitions. From this find the name of your thumb drive which should follow the structure "sd*".

Once you have that information make sure the thumb drive isn't mounted by using the following command (replace "c" with your drive letter):


umount /dev/sdc

You may receive an error saying your drive wasn't mounted. That's good. We just wanted to make sure that it wasn't.

Next up partitioning the drive. If you have a reason to use a different file system (such as FAT32) that's OK but for this example we're going to use ext4 (replace "c" with your drive letter):


sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdc

Once your drive is formatted you can write your .ISO file to the thumb drive with:


sudo dd if=proxmox-ve_*.iso of=/dev/sdc

NOTE: Where "proxmox-ve_*".iso is the name of your .ISO file and sd"c" is the name of your thumb drive.

NOTE: When you run this command you will not see any output for a little while. Be patient, you will see an output and be brought back to a prompt once it finishes writing the .ISO.

 

Our PROXMOX USB installer is now ready. Insert the installer and the drive you want to install to then boot the server. You may have to manually tell the system to boot from USB. Once the installer starts select "Install Proxmox VE", then:

  1. Agree to the EULA
  2. Choose a target disk (Here you can also click on Options and choose another file system, or to use RAID)
  3. Choose your Country, Time Zone, and Keyboard Layout.
  4. Choose a Password, Input an E-mail.
  5. Setup your network configuration
  6. Verify that everything is correct and install. Once it's done you'll be prompted to restart.

After the server is done restarting the installation is complete.

 

2. How to Disable the Subscription Notice and Enterprise Repositories

Spoiler

Once you login to the WebUI that the CLI says to go to the first thing you'll be greeted by is a pesky subscription message. This will pop up every time you login. So let's disable it. If you click OK it will disappear. First lets change from Server View to Folder View. In the very upper left corner beneath PROXMOX it says Server View. Click that and change it to Folder View. Now click on pve in the list beneath it. Look at the column objects that appear to the right of that. The fourth object down is called Shell. Click it. Now copy/paste the following line and hit enter. This will disable the subscription popup.


sed -i.bak "s/data.status !== 'Active'/false/g" /usr/share/javascript/proxmox-widget-toolkit/proxmoxlib.js && systemctl restart pveproxy.service

If you want to you can also disable the enterprise repositories with:


sed -i.bak 's|deb https://enterprise.proxmox.com/debian jessie pve-enterprise|\# deb https://enterprise.proxmox.com/debian jessie pve-enterprise|' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pve-enterprise.list
echo "deb http://download.proxmox.com/debian jessie pve-no-subscription" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pve-no-sub.list

Now if you reboot the server and log back in you should no longer receive the subscription prompt and when performing updates the enterprise repositories should be ignored.

 

3. How to Configure ZFS Storage Pools

Spoiler

When it comes to setting up your VM/container/etc storage pools PROXMOX uses a file system known as ZFS. To configure our pool we need to learn the drive names PROXMOX assigned our disks. For this we can use:


lsblk

Assuming all the disks are identical in size it won't be hard to tell them apart from any other disks in the system. For use in a virtual machine application it's recommended to use RAID10. With RAID10 you will get exceedingly more IOPS as oppose to RAID5 or RAID6 however if desired these are still configurable options.

 

In this example I am going to use 8 disks and I'm going to use RAID10. The command to set this up would be:


zpool create PoolName mirror /dev/sdb /dev/sdc mirror /dev/sdd /dev/sde mirror /dev/sdf /dev/sdg mirror /dev/sdh /dev/sdi 

What this has done is created four 2 drive RAID1's and striped them in RAID0 for an effective 8 drive RAID10. Now if you want a little more performance from your VMs you can add a L2ARC and/or ZIL device these will act as a read & write cache buffer. For this you would want a very high speed device such as a SATA SSD, or NVMe SSD. If you are only working with a single SSD particularly if it is NVMe you'll need to partition it if you plan to use it for both read & write. For this you can use fdisk. Go back to the Terminal (How to get there is discussed in 2.) and get the drive letter associated with your SSD. For me that's nvme0n1. Now to create partitions on it use the command:


fdisk nvme0n1

fdisk has quite a few functions but for simply making a partition its just a matter of hitting a few key letters. Starting with the write cache about 20GB would be as big of a buffer as you'll need but of course this may vary with your exact workload so adjust accordingly. To add this to the drives config would be:


g
p
n
p
1
[enter]
+20G
[enter]

To create the read cache would be a matter of repeating the list starting at "p". Now if this is a small drive you can choose to fill the rest of the drive for the 2nd partition. Alternatively you can reserve a space for whatever else you may want to do with the drive. Now with lsblk we will check the name each partition was given. For me that's nvme0n1p1 & nvme0n1p2 where nvme0n1p1 is 20GB and nvme0n1p2 is the remainder of my SSD. To attach these partitions to our pool I'll use the commands:


zpool add PoolName log /dev/nvme0n1p1
zpool add PoolName cache /dev/nvme0n1p2

If you would like to verify the pools configuration you can use the command:


zpool status

To connect our pool to the PROXMOX WebUI so we can use it there go to data-center -> storage -> add -> zfs

  • ID = Give the pool a name
  • ZFS pool = What we created in the Terminal

After it has finished being added we're done.

 

4. How to Bond a Network Interface Port

Spoiler

Before we start setting up Containers and Virtual Machines we need to bridge our NICs (Network Interface Cards) this will allow us to assign virtual Ethernet ports which our Client OS's will need in order to gain network access. In order to do that navigate to:


Datacenter -> Nodes -> [ServerName] -> System -> Network

In here we want to Create a Linux Bridge. When we assign this to our client they will be linked to the same LAN as the servers own network. This enables easy port forwarding or access for other network clients. This also however makes it easier for anything malicious inside the Client to make it's way out to other devices on the LAN so it's important to consider the application before assigning a Linux Bridge. To get started go to:


Create -> Linux Bridge

In here there's a number of configurable parameters. What you'll want are to setup:

  1. Bridge IP (can be the same as the physical interface),
  2. Subnet
  3. Default Gateway (not required),
  4. IPv6 (not required),
  5. Weather or not it starts when PROXMOX starts
  6. If you plan to have it handle traffic from multiple VLANs (not required)
  7. Then assign the Slave port (Bridge ports) which will be the Name given to the physical port you want it to utilize (such as enp129s0).

After that hit Create and if it went well you'll have an interface that we can assign to our clients.

 

NOTE: Multiple Containers & VMs can be assigned to the same Bridge

 

NOTE: When you go to make your containers & VMs if you're using 10Gbit NICs you'll need to choose paravirtualization during their setup as Intel E1000 is only 1Gbit. Linux is pretty good at having a driver for this so your 10Gbit NIC immediately works inside the VM. However Windows 10 lacks this and a virtio driver will need to be downloaded before you can use it.

 

NOTE: If Jumbo Packets are necessary after you configure your NIC you will find that enabling it in your VM/Container doesn't yield results. This is because the physical interface that PROXMOX controls is still set to MTU 1500. To adjust this we need to edit the interfaces file. We can do this by going back into Shell and running:


nano /etc/network/interfaces

and modifying the configuration of the appropriate interface with:


pre-up ip link set enp129s0 mtu 9000

Where enp129s0 is the name of your NIC.

Example with edit:


auto vmbr1
iface vmbr1 inet static
        address  10.0.0.1
        netmask  255.255.255.0
        bridge-ports enp129s0
        pre-up ip link set enp129s0 mtu 9000
        bridge-stp off
        bridge-fd 0

Then re-start the server or bring the interface down and back up again with:


ifdown enp129s0 && ifup enp129s0

From a Windows client on the same network which has also been configured with Jumbo Packets you should then be able to run the CLI command:


ping X.X.X.X -l 8972 -f

If the ping runs though normally then Jumbo Packets are working end-to-end, but if you get the error:


Packets need to be fragmented but DF set.

Then there is a problem somewhere in the chain and you'll need to recheck your configuration. Beyond that you now have your Network Bridges ready to use.

 

5. How to Add a CIFS Network Server

Spoiler

One of the easiest ways to quickly setup new VMs is to use .ISO files. These act basically as virtual CD's in virtual CD drives. The best way I've found to have quick and ready access to them is to host them on a local server. So as an example I would like to add a CIFS (Windows) server and we can add that to PROXMOXs configuration by going to:


Datacenter -> Storage -> Add -> CIFS

In here we will configure the:

  • ID = How the server will be represented in PROXMOX
  • Server = Input the servers IP
  • Username = The account to use on the CIFS server
  • Password = The account password
  • Share = The folder you want PROXMOX to have access to
  • Nodes = If you have multiple PROXMOX servers
  • Content = Here you decide what you want the server to host for PROXMOX. We only want "ISO image" right now
  • Domain = If applicable

Once you'd added this successfully check your servers share folder. You should see the directory "template" and inside will be "iso". Inside here you can add all of your .ISO files for whatever you may want to install. .ISO files may not only contain OS installers but miscellaneous files for use in a virtual CD drive you may attach to your VM after it is installed.

 

NOTE: It is also possible if desired to create a container or VM to host the CIFS server having PROXMOX effectively connect to itself.

 

You now have a CIFS share to host your .ISO files. This can also be used to hold container images among other things by adding the appropriate folders under the "Content" field discussed above.

 

6. How to Download and Install Templates for Containers

Spoiler

Containers are a very nice feature in which unlike a VM which isolates it's resources from the host OS and kernel, containers share many resources with the host and share the host kernel. This allows easier access to things like drive resources, network adapters, and PCI_e devices. It also doesn't isolate RAM that could be utilized for another system process. On top of this it allows for better performance for the hosted OS. The only downside is containers are CLI only. Some do have WebUI's but none have a fully functional GUI. If your use case doesn't rely on a GUI though, lets say you want the server to double as a File Server, or an E-mail server then it's a better option than using a VM.

 

To get started we first need to download what PROXMOX calls templates. These are images for many different CLI Linux distributions. These will download to your boot USB which is one reason why you'll want one of moderate size (though they can be stored elsewhere if you have somewhere setup for them). When you do the actual installation however you will be able to choose the pool of drives you configured. From the main WebUI page navigate to Templates:


Datacenter -> Storage -> local -> Content -> Templates

From this list you can chose whatever distro you prefer for the applications you want to run. Select one and click Download. Once it's done it's ready to install whenever you want. To begin this click "Create CT" at the top-right corner of the page. There are many configurable options here, most are self-explanatory but to go over some of the things that make installing a container unique they have you configure your root password, any SSH access, and interface IP before the OS is installed. The tab Templates gives you the list of distros you downloaded. The tab Root Disk gives you the option of where to install the container. Be sure to select your pool, by default it will install to your USB.

Once you are done configuring everything else click Finish. Your container will be setup and you'll find it at:


Datacenter -> LXC Container

With that you've installed your first container. From here you can start it up and use it.

 

7. How to Install Your First Virtual Machine

Spoiler

A Virtual Machine is similar to a Container at least in the way you interact with it but it's everything you can't see which makes it vastly different and depending on your application may be your best option as oppose to a Container. As opposite to a container VM's isolate their resources from the host, Memory, CPU cores, Storage, and even the Kernel. All of them are virtually partitioned off from the rest of the system. This allows for a much higher level of security if the plan were to expose the client OS to anything potentially malicious. VM's also offer the benefit of supporting GUI OS's (like Microsoft Windows) and some WebUI OS's that cannot run in Containers.

 

To install a VM we're going to need either a physical CD or use a .ISO file. For this example we're going to use the CIFS share we configured in 4. If you don't have another server to serve the purpose of 4 as mentioned before you can setup a Container with some storage and use it as a File Server then have PROXMOX connect to itself for the .ISO files.

In the top-right corner of the WebUI click "Create VM". Like before there are quite a few configurable options. Many self-explanatory. When you get to the OS tab the left options column where it says "Storage:" you'll select the CIFS share you configured that contains our .ISO files. Then click the drop-down menu next to "ISO Image:". This will contain all of your bootable .ISO files and will install it from over the network.

 

Under Hard Disk be sure to select your storage pool or else it will try to install to your USB. After setting up CPU, Memory, & Network you can Confirm and Finish. It will create it. When you start your VM for the first time it will run though the installer.ISO you set it up with. Once you're done installing your OS you can go though:


Hardware -> CD/DVD Drive

to remove or change it. Like mentioned before you can make your own .ISO files containing anything you want after the OS is installed. It will act like any CD in a CD-ROM drive.

 

You've finished installing your first Virtual Machine.

 

This concludes the PROXMOX Beginners Guide. If there's anything that needs revising or if you want something added just let me know.


Guides & Tutorials:

Three Methods to Resetting a Windows Login Password

A Beginners Guide to Debian CLI Based File Servers

A Beginners Guide to PROXMOX

How to Use Rsync on Microsoft Windows for Cross-platform Automatic Data Replication

A How To Guide: Setting up SMB3.0 Multichannel on FreeNAS

How You can Reset Your Windows Login Password with Hiren's BootCD - (Depreciated)

 

Guide/Tutorial in Progress:

How to Build Your Own DAS

 

In the Queue:

GPU Pass-though w/ QEMU on Debian Linux

How to Setup Drive Sharing in Windows 10

How to Format a HDD/SSD in Windows

 

Don't see what you need? Check the Full List or *PM me, if I haven't made it I'll add it to the list.

*NOTE: I'll only add it to the list if the request is something I know I can do.

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