Connecticut VMUG User Conference May 13 2014 lures IT Pros with home virtualization lab give aways

There seems to be something about giving away a home lab system away that encourages a bit of extra participation and fun at virtualization user groups. A two node cluster, consisting of Core i5 systems based on the EVGA Z87 Stinger motherboard, was given away yesterday by the VMUG organizers. You can see from the photos below that the bucket of raffle entries was overflowing, with one lucky attendee heading home with armfuls of awesome. Perhaps it was the 500GB Samsung 840EVO SSDs that caught that entrants attention, or the QNAP TS-469L 4-Bay NAS.

Connecticut VMUG May 2014 2 node cluster $3300 DIY build

Matt Kozloski @vMattK worked with the VMUG organization to pull this together, then give it all away. You can see (or buy) all the pieces on NewEgg here. The same parts list is on Amazon here, but be sure to use the small "Has" quantity stated next to each item, to get just the right quantities into your cart.

Here's some tips about this build that Matt emailed over to me:

The little thumb drives are for ESXi boot. Even though they are USB3, ESXi (even 5.5) won't work correctly with USB3, so they have to go into the non-3 ports. The on-board nic doesn't work without modification (loading non vmw kernel mods) - that's why I added in the dual-port E1000E cards.

Is there something in the New England air? This build has some marked similarities with VCDX #23 Mark Gabryjelski's lab raffle giveway from the recent VTUG, highlighted below:

How to Build A Home Lab for $2,000 - The Presentation

by +Mark Gabryjelski @MarkGabbs on Jan 13 2014

With Mark's consent, I put together his build under a single Amazon (TinkerTry Affiliate) Wishlist, just click the Amazon logo at right, with a screenshot below it showing exactly how the shopping cart looks configured with 32GB of RAM and 4 1TB drives.

I also had the honor of meeting a leader of the Chicago VMUG, Eric Shanks, who gave the crowd a thoughtful keynote after lunch. He's the creator of, voted Top 50 VMware & virtualization blog at Of course, I introduced myself, and we got to talking for a bit about virtualization, blogging, and home labs. I've now added Eric's Baby Dragon Home Lab to the TinkerTry Superguide: Home virtualization server enthusiasts’ colorful variety of ESXi whiteboxes:

Baby Dragon Home Lab

by +Eric Shanks @eric_shanks
on Apr 2013


As you can probably guess if you've spent any time reading any of my user group posts, my day's highlights included visiting the vendors, where I also met up with former colleagues and customers. And of course, attending the techiest of the sessions, such as "Performance Best Practices for VMware" by Canadian VMware techie Angelo Madrasto. That's the stuff! I always enjoy learning tips, especially when they're presented just 6 miles from home. For free. With lunch.

If you were in attendance, please consider dropping a comment below this article about your experience. Thank you for (virtually) stopping by!


See also

Superguide: Home virtualization server enthusiasts’ colorful variety of ESXi whiteboxes