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Upgrading ESXi without VUM / From the Cli

It seems that VMWare are getting rid of VUM (I assume something new will be released soon to replace it), so more and more people are going to need to manage ESXi upgrades from the command line.
I suspect that the people that will be most affected by this are people running the free version of ESXi.

Anyway, here is a quick how to, for ESXi upgrades.

First enable ssh access to the ESXi4.0 box. – (more info here)

At the ESXi console:
1. alt-f1
2. Type unsupported (You will not see your typing)
3. root pw
4. vi /etc/inetd.conf
5. uncomment the 2 ssh lines, i.e delete the “#” preceding the ssh config lines (esc x to delete a character in vi)
6. :wq to save the changes in vi and quit the vi editor
7. services.sh restart (if necessary reboot the ESXi box if ssh still does not work)

If you are running ESX4.1, follow this guide to enable SSH access to ESXi4.1 Host
(again at the console)

1.Press F2 to Customize System Settings
2.Navigate to Troubleshooting Options
3.Select ‘Enable remote Tech support (SSH)

Note – you can also adjust the tech support timeout here – so you could limit how long tech support stays enabled for.

Next, you will need to download your upgrade bundle from VMWare –

You now have 2 Options,

Run the installation – Option 1 – from a webserver
If you are able to store the upgrade bundle on a webserver, you could do the following:
Place the file upgrade-from-ESXi4.0-to-4.1.0-0.0.260247-release.zip at the root directory of your web server.
I use Apache Tomcat 7.0 on Windows XP to host the file upgrade-from-ESXi4.0-to-4.1.0-0.0.260247-release.zip
Ensure the Windows Firewall allows access from external hosts to your web server (In the case of Apache Tomcat, I had to open port 8080)
VMotion all the VMs off of you host, or Shut down all VMs, and put the host into maintenance mode.
SSH to your ESXi4.0 box and at the CLI type:
esxupdate –bundle http://ipaddress:8080/upgrade-from-ESXi4.0-to-4.1.0-0.0.260247-release.zip update (Of course this value will change dependent on your filename)
The zip file will be downloaded from your web server and installed. Reboot the ESXi server when prompted.

Run the installation – Option 2 – from a local instance of the upgrade bundle
If you do not have a web server handy, you could copy the bundle locally on the ESXi host. – or even on a shared datastore accessed by multiple ESXi hosts if you have shared storage.
Using FastSCP(my preference, but any SCP style tool will work e.g. WinSCP) – Copy the upgrade bundle to the ESXi host(or shared store)
VMotion all the VMs off of you host, or Shut down all VMs, and put the host into maintenance mode.
SSH to the host (I use putty, but any SSH tool will work)
From the command line of the host, execute the command: esxupdate –bundle /vmfs/volumes/<datastorename>/<myfolder>/upgrade-from-ESXi4.0-to-4.1.0-0.0.260247-release.zip update
The zip file will be extracted and installed

Reboot the host
Reboot the host when done. Once that’s complete, take the host back out of maintenance mode, and power on the virtual machines.
You’ll possibly have new VMtools available, so upgrade these.

If your host refuses to start up and you are having issues, you should be able to revert to your previous installation by hitting Shift-R as the host boots up.

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