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Command-Line ESXi Update Notes

With vSphere 4.1, VMware removed the easy-to-use Windows Host Update Utility from the standard offering of ESXi. Things are made easy when VMware Update Manager is in use with vCenter, but the free ESXi installations (now dubbed VMware vSphere Hypervisor) are now struggling to update the host.

The vihostupdate Perl script (see PDF here) can perform version and hotfix updates for ESXi. But I found out while upgrading my lab that there are a few gotchas. The main catches are that certain post update options can only be done through the vSphere Client for the free ESXi installations. As I was updating my personal lab, I went over the commands to exit maintenance mode and reboot the host from this KB article. It turns out that none of these will work in my situation -- vCenter is not managing the ESXi host.

This all started when I forgot to put the new vSphere Client on my Windows system ahead of time. We've all seen the error in Fig. 1 when an old vSphere Client connects to a new ESXi server.

When an older vSphere Client attempts to connect to a newer ESXi server, an updated client installation is required.

Figure 1. When an older vSphere Client attempts to connect to a newer ESXi server, an updated client installation is required. (Click image to view larger version.)

This is fine enough, as we simply retrieve the new vSphere Client installation and proceed along on our merry way. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me. As it is, my lab has a firewall virtual machine that provides my Internet access. Further, the new feature with vSphere is that the new client installation file is not hosted on the ESXi Server, but online at vsphereclient.vmware.com.

Fig. 2 shows the error message you will get if there is no Internet access to retrieve the current client.

The client download will fail without Internet access.

Figure 2. The client download will fail without Internet access. (Click image to view larger version.)

The trick is to have the newest vSphere Client readily at hand to do things like reboot the host and exit maintenance mode when updating the free ESXi hypervisor.

It's not a huge inconvenience, but it's definitely a step that will save you some time should you run into this situation where the ESXi host also provides the Internet access.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 01/27/2011 at 12:48 PM


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