Download ESXi 5.5 Update 1 and the other vSphere pieces to get your home lab started

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 12 2014 (updated on Aug 4 2014) in
  • ESXi
  • Network
  • Productivity
  • Virtualization
  • Aug 04 2014 Update:
    See also Problems downloading VMware vSphere VMware vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1c Appliance, and a way to download 1b (that can be updated to 1c).

    Original article appears below

    To get started with your own vSphere 5.5 home lab, you'll find that there's just 3 files needed. Navigating VMware's site can be a bit tricky, especially when you consider the presentation of the entire site for folks that have some sort of valid license looks quite different than the product evaluation portal. This article gives you the exact URLs and details, to help ANYBODY be absolutely sure they got all the right bits and pieces, before you dive in and Build your own VMware vSphere 5.5 Datacenter with ESXi and VCSA, and article I plan to refresh with Update 1 soon.

    This is a home-lab-centric article, with narrow scope. Get you started by getting you past bumps in the road that have steered others off course. The Windows-based vCenter Server download (vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 Installation Package) that I'm not covering here is considerably more complex and time consuming to set up (you need to provide your own database, like SQL Server), and is overkill for most home labs. Now that VCSA (VMware vCenter Server Appliance) has come so far in scale and capabilities, and finally simple to deploy on a home network, it's likely better suited for your home lab use too. Especially if simplicity is your goal. Yes, VCSA is based on SuSE Linux. But this appliance is largely pre-configured by VMware for you. You don't need to know Linux at all to configure and use it using mostly just your browser, as I demonstrate on this 5.5 (non-Update 1) video here. See also configuration maximums.

    Keep in mind that for those first 60 days, you have access to all ESXi datacenter features in a non-production lab. Read a bit more about licensing here on and here on TinkerTry.

    You'll have plenty of time to read during the download of the 3 needed files, which total about 2.41GB in all. I detail the links below, followed by a video demonstrating the fastest way to get those downloads completed.

    The new vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 Release Notes parts you'll want to review:

    vCenter Server 5.5 Update 1 | 11 MAR 2014 | Build 1623101
    vCenter Server Appliance 5.5 Update 1 | 11 MAR 2014 | Build 1624811
    Last updated: 11 MAR 2014

    Download - Steps 1, 2, and 3!

    Short version:

    Visit and login with your existing account. Go to the License & Download tab, open the first 2 sections, then click on 'Manually Download' next to the following 3 files:

    1. ESXi 5.5 ISO image (Includes VMware Tools)
    2. VMware vCenter Server 5.5.0 Update 1 Appliance - OVA File
    3. VMware vSphere Client

    Long version:

    Well worth reading, in case you have troubles with logging in, with existing evaluations/download permissions, and/or download speed issues. Such as the dreaded

    Your evaluation has expired. 0 days remaining on your evaluation. We hope you have enjoyed using VMware vSphere.

    The goal is to get the first download going, the version of ESXi 5.5 Update 1, aka, hypervisor, intended for new installs or upgrades, that ANYBODY can access. To get it, the simplest option is for me to show you the exact sequence of screens to get through, including "Register" for a new account (an optional first step). This way, especially after watching the video below, you'll be convinced that this procedure will work for ALL VMware-curious folks, even those who have never had a free account before. That's right, no prerequisites, partner requirements, license key requests. Just an ISO you can download right away, for a 60 day trial. During that trial, assuming you don't enter any license key, you'll have access to all the enterprise features. This is a great way to kick the tires, and get to know what vSphere 5.5 Update 1 is capable of. Right in your lab, including the fun stuff like vMotion, Storage vMotion, and more. And if you do get a license keys, just enter them before 60 days are up, and you're all set, no re-install of ESXi or vCenter appliance will be needed. Remember, even if your keys do expire, your VMs are still on your datastores. And you can always rebuild, preserving your existing datastores/VMs, just re-add them to inventory. As always, adhering to EULAs and licensing restrictions are your responsibility. Disclaimers out of the way, let's get started!

    Here's the URL to visit first:

    You'll be challenged to log in with credentials. Choose the Log In tab for an existing account if you got one, then skip ahead in these instructions to "I Have an Account" below.

    Create an Account

    If you run into troubles with or chose the 'Create an Account' tab to make a new account, no billing questions will be asked. No matter how you log in, all these downloads listed below are available to you, for free. Licensing is a separate issue.


    Finish up with filling out name, address, a little about yourself, then agree to the terms and click 'Start Free Trial':


    Now bring up your email, web based email is simplest:


    I Have an Account


    You'll need to decide on the download method.

    • For a simple html download method over https, click the 'Manually Download' links
    • If you have a faster connection, you may prefer to chose the 'Start Download Manager' buttons, which uses the Java based Akamai DLM (Download Manager).

    With my rated as 150Mbps down and 30Mbps up internet connection, I can actually get full use of that pipe (seen at right, and in video below), only if I use DLM. I managed to finish all 3 downloads, that's 2.41GB in all, in under 5 minutes. And if I skip the DLM? Then it's "just" 26Mbps for me. I know, boo hoo.

    Once logged in to the "VMware vSphere Product Evaluation Center" you'll see you're on the "Installation & Configuation" screen. If this is your first login here, just wait about 30 seconds, and it'll automatically go to the next step, the "License & Download" tab, seen below:


    Scroll down, and there it is:
    ESXi 5.5 ISO image (Includes VMware Tools)
    2014-03-11 | 5.5.0 U1 | 328 MB | iso


    You should see this dialogue come up:


    If you don't see this:


    your download may work, but it'll be slow. You can adjust your Java setting to fix this. Press your Windows key, type Java, select 'Configure Java', choose the 'Security' tab, and turn on 'Enable Java content in the browser' then click 'Apply'. You can turn it right back off again when done, and yes, there are good security reasons why you might want to do so. This easy browser integration on/off capability arrived in Java 7 Update 10, which has the checkbox set to off by default.

    2) Download VCSA (VMware vCenter Server Appliance - OVA File) 5.5 Update 1 Build 1624811

    Visit this site (if you're not already logged in there from step 1 above):

    You'll need this appliance to have access to many of the ESXi 5.5 specific features that are only accessible by pointing your browser to this appliance, aka, vSphere Web Client. This is how you'll be able to try the new and interesting stuff, seen here.

    Just scroll down and open the "Download the management server" section, and click the 2nd item found there:
    VMware vCenter Server Appliance - OVA File File size: 1.8GB


    All the appliance-related files are bundled inside the OVA file, kindly pointed out by TinkerTry commenter Squuiid here. Yes, that means you only need this one file.

    3) Download VMware vSphere Client 5.5 Build 1618071

    You still need this C# Windows 32 bit program to initially configure your ESXi host, and to deploy the appliance ("File, Deploy OVF Template"), but after that, not so much. This is the same exact link to the actual EXE from VMware's site that you get when you click on the "Download vSphere Client" button upon pointing your browser straight to your ESXi host later on, but why not get this 358MB download over with now?

    Visit this site (if you're not already logged in there from step 1 or step 2 above):


    VMware vSphere Client
    2014-03-11 | 5.5.0U1 | 358 MB | exe

    and finish up kicking off that 3rd download.

    When all 3 are done, use Windows Explorer to verify you have the correct 3 files:


    You may wonder, what about the Client Integration Plug-In in the vSphere Web Client? Well, that bit of code will be coming straight from your VCSA on your local network, once you've got the appliance up and running. Thankfully, the vSphere Web Client is now a decent performer, especially when run off a SATA3 SSD, as seen on the TinkerTry YouTube Channel. Not something I'd dare say about 5.1, which was pretty much intolerable. Phew!

    You are now ready to begin building your lab, congratulations!

    How, exactly? I will be creating an updated, streamlined, step-by-step 5.5 Update 1 installation and configuration guide, with new video, right here at TinkerTry soon. But worry not, it'll be very much like the original, comprehensive hit, Build your own VMware vSphere 5.5 Datacenter with ESXi and VCSA, so you can get started right away, since this is just a relatively minor update.

    I've also now published a video walk through of me downloading these 3 files, featuring the Akamai Download Manager:

    See also at TinkerTry

    Duncan Epping on Mar 12 2014 at Yellow-Bricks:

    See also

    Also right here on TinkerTry: