ESXi 5.1 standalone or ESXi 5.1 managed by vCenter can be upgraded to ESXi 5.5 after the last week's GA release of vSphere 5.5. While for ESXi managed by vCenter, the upgrade process is quite straight forward by using VUM (VMware Update Manager). The VUM can also be used with Linux based (VCSA), where the VUM must be installed on separate Windows machine and the legacy Windows based vSphere client must be used in order to have the VUM plugin, which is supported only on the legacy Windows client as for now.
For standalone (Free version) ESXi 5.x upgrades, things got more complicated as VMware does not provide a download of the ESXi Offline Bundle. The offline bundle is a zip file which allows upgrade standalone ESXi hosts via PowerCLI or via Putty client through SSH session.
There is a nice workaround, which allows you to create your own Offline bundle for ESXi 5.5. You'll need to install PowerCLI on your management station.
You can download PowerCLI from this link. Then start a PowerCLI window and enter those commands, where will create the Offline bundle in the current directory.
And then this one:
Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard -ExportToBundle -FilePath .ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard.zip
Thanks to Andreas Peetz from v-front.de for this tip.
Once the offline bundle is generated, you can upload it to a datastore visible by the host and follow the steps which I described in my article where I'm updating free version of ESXi 5.0 to 5.1 – How to patch ESXi 5 without vCenter. If you want to preserver all NIC drivers and VIBs you have installed on your ESXi 5.1, you'll have to use “update” switch instead of “install”.
Use this command:
esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/datastore01/ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard.zip -p ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard
As a side note, users of ESXi 5.5 free version cannot modify virtual machine hardware 10 by using the legacy vSphere Windows client. The VMs can be powered On or Off, but to edit the virtual hardware, the vSphere Web client must be used. This would not be such a problem, as you probably don't need a 62Tb VMs at home or AHCI for SATA (Advanced Host Controller Interface). But still, I get the feeling that the users of the free version are getting less and less options (even with the unlock of the physical memory which was limited to 32 Gb in previous release.)
You can also use the VMware Online Depot to download the upgrade package and upgrade your host…
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpsClient
esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard
You might want to check out other features of vmx-10 which are listed in my post – VMware vSphere 5.5 – Storage enhancements and new configuration maximums.
VMware has created video which shows best practices for upgrading and installing ESXi hypervisor. Basically you'll need to follow the documentation, which is provided through links which shows on several places when watching the video.
This video shows:
- Hardware Prerequisites (CPU 64 bits, 4Gb of RAM…….)
- 1Gb or 10Gb networking
- SATA, SCSI or local disks (5.2 gb disk is minimum)
- Scratch partition on local storage, not on USB disk…
If you're installing vCenter server, you might want to check out two of my detailed posts for installing and configuring VCSA – vCenter Server 5.5 (VCSA) – Install/config – part 1 and VCSA 5.5 Installation and configuration – Part 2.