Something I thought would be really easy to do in VMWare turned out not to be. Whilst setting up my new ESXi host I found a couple of old external SATA hard disk caddies where the caddies or PSUs had broken but the disks were fine. It seemed like a good opportunity to remove the caddies and place them in my ESX host to expose to my file server.
This is slightly more effort than I first imaged. You cannot just pass through a disk directly to a VM. If you had all the disks you want on a dedicated SATA controller I imagine you could pass that through but not really suitable in my context just wanting to pass through a couple of individual disks on the controller.
Solution was pretty simple but unintuitive if you’re not used to ESXi. You need to connect via SSH, determine which disk you’re working on through FDisk, create a VMDK file that represents the real disk and then connect that disk to the VM.
Since it’s 8am and I didn’t think to take any screenshots last night here’s a link to a blog with further instructions http://fdo-workspace.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/vmware-esxi-41u1-raw-sata-hdd-pass.html