Saturday, August 24, 2019

Upgrading VMware ESXi Lab

Let's start with the definition of a VMWare lab. It's a non production scale system that has enough hardware and software to perform the function under test. In my case that's a couple of different Intel NUC devices with 500GB to 1TB of SSD, 32GB DDR3 or DDR4 RAM and an i5 or i7 CPU. I also have run everything under ESXi as the host OS.
The decision to use ESXi was a tough one. VMWare offers a free version however there are limits to it's capability like access to APIs which permits docker-machine to spawn client instances. I could have installed CoreOS and run everything in Docker containers but that has it's limits too.
Things get even more sketchy because the CLI version of the updater has a number of limits. For example if the /tmp folder partition is not big enough the update process will complain about insufficient disk space... and worse yet the only documented work around does not work.

Here's how I managed my latest upgrade:

[1] log into vmware and get the latest patch file as a .zip
https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/home

[2] enable SSH services on the target host
[3] suspend or shutdown all of the active clients on the target host
[4] SSH-mount the target host
[5] upload the .zip file from step (1)
[6] ssh into the target host

[7.1] list the contents of the .zip file and determine which patch to apply
esxcli software sources profile list -d /vmfs/volumes/SSD_01/update-from-esxi6.7-6.7_update02.zip

[7.1] perform the upgrade (get the target path correct)
esxcli software profile update -p ESXi-6.7.0-20190402001-standard -d /vmfs/volumes/SSD_01/update-from-esxi6.7-6.7_update03.zip

[8] probably require a reboot... as indicated in the result. It's a good idea to connect a monitor so you can see the results. I have one machine that will refuse to boot from time to time.

[9] restart or resume the guests on the target host

Here is a good reference but I would double check the URLs very carefully to make sure i was not running anything that make my systems vulnerable... like downloading the patch from a 3rd party and there are plenty of those.

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