Often I get asked what's VIB and How to install VIB in VMware ESXi. VIB packages are update packages, drivers or other third party updates to ESXi which installs by using VMware Update Manager (VUM) or directly through the local CLI. The easiest way to patch ESXi free (without update manager) is through the local CLI.
Update: I'm talking here about ESXi Free version, where the remote CLI tools can't be used, because of the locked up APIs.
Update2: The scripting toolkits which uses PowerShell are limited to read-only access for the free version of VMware ESXi. However, they can still be used to update/install/check the VIBs. To clear the doubts, Free version of ESXi mean ESXi with free license applied. If the host gets updated to at least vSphere Essentials (or higher), the tools have write-access and can be used for truly managing the host.
What is VIB?
A vib is vSphere Installation Bundle. To make it more detailed, one can look at the vSphere 5 documentation page here, but basically you'll find out that there are differences between individual VIBs, Image profile or Software depot:
Different types of VIBs?
VIB – A VIB is an ESXi software package. VMware and its partners package solutions, drivers, CIM providers, and applications that extend the ESXi platform as VIBs. VIBs are available in software depots. You can use VIBs to create and customize ISO images or to upgrade ESXi hosts by installing VIBs asynchronously onto the hosts.
Image Profile – An image profile defines an ESXi image and consists of VIBs. An image profile always includes a base VIB, and might include more VIBs. You examine and define an image profile using the Image Builder PowerCLI.
Software Depot – A software depot is a collection of VIBs and image profiles. The software depot is a hierarchy of files and folders and can be available through an HTTP URL (online depot) or a ZIP file (offline depot). VMware and VMware partners make depots available. Companies with large VMware installations might create internal depots to provision ESXi hosts with vSphere Auto Deploy, or to export an ISO for ESXi installation.
There are VIBs that needs a reboot (base ESXi patches, drivers or esxcli extensions) and there are ones that don't. Some examples of VIBs which do not require reboot are:
- CIM providers
- Cisco Nexus
- vShield Plugins
- Lab Manager
- HA agents
A VIB has 3 parts:
- File Archive – the main file. The file which gets deployed to the ESXi host.
- XML descriptor file – has inportant info about requirements for installing the VIB. (dependencies, compatibility, reboot necessary? )
- Signature File – signature which verifies the level of trust (Integrity, Information about the creator and verifications that has been done).
The different VIBs can be installed different way as you see. In addition there are VIBs that are VMware certified, VMware accepted, Partner supported or community supported.
The ESXCLI command used to Add or Remove VIBs from ESXi host.
There are multiple ESXCLI commands which can be used for Installing, removing or updating a VIB:
1. To Install:
esxcli software vib install -d “/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName/PatchName.zip“
2. To Update:
esxcli software vib update -d “/vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName/PatchName.zip”
3. To verify which VIBs are installed:
esxcli software vib list
No need to say, that you must first enable the SSH in order to be able to use an SSH client, like Putty, to connect to your ESXi host….