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I recently had to update the BIOS and iDRAC firmware on a Dell server running ESXi. I did not have the Dell Server Updates DVDs or the time required to download them, and instead used the Dell OMSA CentOS LiveCD and the Update Package for Red Hat Linux files option.  While the steps below are Dell specific, they could be modified very easily to work with just about any hardware vendor.

01. Download the Dell OMSA CentOS LiveCD, and make sure to read the README file.


02. Download the required updates from the Dell support site. Be sure to choose the "Update Package for Red Hat Linux" .BIN format for the downloads.  Again, make sure to read any notes or installation instructions included with the downloads.  For this set of Dell updates, the iDRAC firmware had to be updated prior to the BIOS.


03. Use ISO Master (or equivalent) to inject the .BIN files to the root of the Dell OMSA CentOS LiveCD ISO image, and then burn the image to disc. The updates could also be copied to a USB drive and then mounted from within the LiveCD.


04. After evacuating all VMs from the ESXi host and putting it in maintenance mode, boot the ESXi host to the Dell OMSA CentOS LiveCD.


05. Choose the "Boot (run from CD)" option at the menu.


06. Wait for the GUI to start, and then issue the following commands from the terminal window:


cd /mnt/live


07. When the update is complete, issue a reboot command from the GUI of the LiveCD or type the following command in the terminal window:




08. After the LiveCD completes shut down, remove it from the ESXi host.  Verify that the updated firmware versions are correct, and then test your ESXi host to ensure everything is working as expected.


Thanks for reading!

This is a modernized version of the "Single use ESXUPDATE How To for ESX 4" post I wrote over a year ago.  With more and more people making the transition over to ESXi, it seemed like it was time to have a simple set of instructions to be provided for use in patching ESXi.


01: Make sure you have the vMA both installed and configured.


02: Download the patch bundle directly from VMware Support. This download will be .zip file.  Do not extract it.


03: Use SCP (Windows users use WinSCP) to upload the .zip file to the vi-admin user's home directory (/home/vi-admin) on the vMA.


04: Obtain local console access, or SSH (putty), to the vMA virtual machine that the bundle file was uploaded to.


Note: In all examples below, would be replaced with the actual IP address (or DNS name) of the ESXi host to be patched.


05: Use the vSphere client to put the ESXi 4.x host in maintenance mode.  Alternatively, from the vMA use the command:


vicfg-hostops --server --operation enter


To next verify that the host is in maintenance mode, run the following command from the vMA.


vicfg-hostops --server --operation info


The following command may also be used to list running virtual machines.  This is for environments without VMotion or for single hosts.


vmware-cmd --server -l


The following command may also be used to stop running virtual  machines.  This is for environments without VMotion or for single hosts.


vmware-cmd --server <vm-path> stop soft


06: Verify which bundles are already installed on the ESXi host, using the command:


vihostupdate --server --query


Note: You will next be prompted for a username and password when running this and any subsequent commands that connect to an ESXi host.


07. Find out which bulletins are available in the bundle.


vihostupdate --server --list --bundle ~/<bundle-name>


Note: In the example above, the bundle-file would be located in the vi-admin user's home directory.  The list here should be reviewed for accuracy and to ensure that the correct bundle file was downloaded and copied to the vMA.


08. Find out which bulletins are applicable to the ESXi host.


vihostupdate --server --scan --bundle ~/<bundle-name>


09: Finally, the bundle is installed using the command:

vihostupdate --server --install --bundle ~/<bundle-name>


10. When (or IF) prompted to reboot, use the vSphere client or the following command from the vMA:


vicfg-hostops --server --operation reboot

Note: Not all patches will require an ESXi host reboot.  You will be prompted, when required.


11: After the ESXi host boots, verify the patch bundle was installed from the vMA with the command:


vihostupdate --server --query


12: If applicable, take the ESXi host out of maintenance mode using the vSphere client or from the vMA with the command:


vicfg-hostops --server --operation exit


13: If applicable, restart virtual machines using the vSphere client or from the vMA with the command:


vmware-cmd --server <vm-path> start


As always, thanks for reading!