ESXCLI host upgrade procedure

Most of the time you would want to use VMware Update Manager when doing upgrade. Its part of vCenter and is necessary tool when having to maintain your environment. But for smaller deployments, with standalone hosts and no vCenter the following upgrade methods are desired and can help the upgrade time. Instead of having to upgrade with IPMI and an ISO.

Online mode:

This method is for getting the update online, no need to download ISO/offline bundles, etc. This will work for most of the upgrade use cases.

1: Connect to your ESXi host via the host client and enable SSH. Afterward ssh to the ESXi host and enable ESXi firewall rule to allow the host to access the internet.

esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient

2: With the beneath command you will get a list of available ESXi packaged that are on the VMware repos. Enter this command to list all available profiles. We filter only those which are relevant to our case – upgrade to ESXi 6.7

esxcli software sources profile list -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml | grep -i ESXi-6.7

3. Chose the desired profile and use the following command for choosing and upgrading the ESXi version. Before upgrade its a good idea to enter maintenance mode.

esxcli system maintenanceMode set --enable true
esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.7.0-20190402001-standard -d https://hostupdate.vm
ware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml

4. After it’s done, you will need to restart the host, after its rebooted you will run on the new ESXi version.

Custom, with Offline bundle:

This method is for when you desire to install a custom update, or that your hosts down have access to the internet.

1: Download the offline bundle from the VMware webpage, in this upgrade I will use an HPE custom version. But if you run a generic version, that will also work.

2: After downloading the “VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-8169922-depot.zip” file, place it (upload it) to a datastore which is visible by your ESXi host. Best would be a local datastore if this host has some. If not, it can also be a shared datastore too.

3: Find the profile name from the depot offline bundle

 esxcli software sources profile list -d /vmfs/volumes/prd.r60lun01/ISO/VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-Up
019-depot.zip

Put your host into maintenance mode, enable SSH if you haven’t done yet.

3: Execute this command to upgrade your ESXi 6.x to 6.7

esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.7.0-13006603-standard -d /vmfs/volumes/your_datastore/VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-13006603-depot.zip

esxcli software profile update -p HPE-ESXi-6.7.0-Update2-Gen9plus-670.U2.10.4.1.8 -d /vmfs/volumes/prd.r60lun01/ISO/VMware-ESXi-6.7.0-Update2-13006603-HPE-Gen9plus-670.U2.10.4.1.8-Apr2019-depot.zip

After checking that your upgrade was successful, reboot your host. You should see a message saying that the upgrade completed successfully.

Troubleshooting

I have tried to get an error with:

Failed updating the bootloader: Execution of command /usr/lib/vmware/bootloader-installer/install-bootloader failed: non-zero code returned…. return code: 1”

Error when upgrading, due to “insufficient space”.

This problem is due to the SWAP is but on the installation of the ESXi, not a good thing. So let’s change it.

Go to the UI of the ESXi Hosts https://IP/ui, login and proceed to the following:

Manage > System > Swap > Edit Settings

Chose the dropdown and select a datastore. Apply and the swap space is not freed from the ESXi install device so that you can try to upgrade again.

Conclusion:

After the upgrade, it’s a good idea to disable the ESXi firewall rule for “HTTP outside access”. Stop and disable SSH again, but it’s optional 🙂

esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e false -r httpClient

Now you should have an upgraded host.

ESXi – physical memory population

Had en interesting problem where a ESXi host only showed it had 30GB of memory, but the motherboard was populated with 6*8GB modules. In earlier versions of ESXi 5.5< it was possible to use dmidecode to show how the physical hardware was populated. But since 6.0> that have been removed.

The new command to find those kind of information are now “smbiosDump”

You can also just run smbiosDump without any paramenters and you get a hole lot of information to crawl through.