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VMWare Esxi - Ubuntu server - HW transcoding


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Hi everyone,

I would like to share my setup since it might be helpful to someone, and I can also offer advice to those who are stuck trying to do the same thing. I am a Windows certified system engineer for 14 years. I chose Esxi and Ubuntu server because it is very stable and low maintenance. I hope this post is allowed, if not feel free to lock/delete my post. 


Synology DS920+ (iscsi LUN datastore for VMWare)
Lenovo Tiny M720q (Intel i5-8400T, 16GB RAM, VMWare Esxi 7.0.2)
Lenovo Tiny P330 (Intel i5-9700T, 32GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro P620, VMWare Esxi 7.0.2)


Virtual Machine "VM-Emby" Ubuntu 20.04.3 LTS (4 cores, 8GB RAM, 20GB HDD)


I won't go into detail on everything since there are already some great guides out there:

- Configure iscsi on Synology: https://vmspot.com/synology-iscsi-for-vmware-vsphere/

- Install Ubuntu on VMWare Esxi: https://blog.eldernode.com/install-ubuntu-20-04-lts-server-on-vmware/

- Install Emby: https://emby.media/linux-server.html (use the wget command to download the file. So for example "sudo wget https://github.com/MediaBrowser/Emby.Releases/releases/download/"

GPU Passthrough

1. In VMWare Esxi go to Host -> Manage and open the Hardware tab. Select your GPU in the list of PCI devices and make sure passtrough is set to Active. If this is not the case you can click the Toggle passtrough button. 

2. Make sure your Emby VM is turned off, and edit the settings. (Actions -> Edit settings)

3. Click Add another device -> PCI device and add both the GPU and the Audio controller that comes with it.

4. Go to the VM Options tab -> Advanced and click on the Edit configuration button.

5. Add a new parameter to the list: hypervisor.cpuid.v0 with the value FALSE

6. Boot the VM and install the GPU drivers. In my case I used the default Nvidia package by using the command sudo apt install nvidia-driver-440

7. You can verify it was installed correctly by using the command nvidia-smi (If you open a stream on Emby that uses transcoding you will also see the memory it is using with this command).

8. If you start playing a movie you can see in your Emby admin dashboard that hardware transcoding is being used. If it says software->software you're not quite there yet. 


Updates and maintenance

I log into the Ubuntu server every month or 2 to install the OS updates, or whenever Emby has a new release.

Ubuntu OS update:

1. Log in to the VM (SSH via Putty, through the Esxi admin portal, ...)

2. Type the command sudo apt full-upgrade and confirm with Y

3. I always reboot my VM after installing updates with the sudo reboot command, but you do you. This depends on the updates but is usually not required. 

Emby server update:

1. Your Emby admin dashboard will show you when there is a new update.

2. Log in to the VM (I recommend Putty here since you can copy paste the URL)

3. Open the Emby website https://emby.media/linux-server.html

4. Right click the version you need and select copy link address

5. In your VM type the command sudo wget [link address] so for example: sudo wget https://github.com/MediaBrowser/Emby.Releases/releases/download/

6. Copy the command from rule nr2 on the Emby website, in this case its dpkg -i emby-server-deb-

7. reboot the server with sudo reboot




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