How to easily update your VMware vCenter Server Appliance to VCSA 6.0 Update 1b

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 12 2016 (updated on Mar 31 2018) in
  • ESXi
  • Virtualization
  • HowTo
  • HomeLab
  • Important Update - On Mar 20 2018, VMware VMSA-2018-0004.3 announced that CVE-2017-5715 (Spectre-2) mitigation is now included in the latest patch that you should be using instead of the older patch featured in the original article below. You'll find the newer article here:

    Article below as it originally appeared.

    If you're using VCSA 6.0, Update 1 introduced the new Appliance Management Interface. Think re-incarnated Virtual Appliance Management Interface (VAMI), from those 5.5 days of yore,

    Packages Already Staged
    In the Application Management Interface, I was getting the "Packages Already Staged" message, but it never actually applied them.
    that Web UI you get when you access your VCSA via port 5480. Yep, it has an Update button. That upgrade method didn't work for me though. It says it downloaded the code, but didn't actually apply it. I didn't dwell on it though. I just nuked this VCSA 6.0 Update 1 and redeployed it, so I could test this from scratch tonight.

    Why did I give up so easily? Because instead, I really wanted to test procedure that'd help everybody, whether you're on VCSA 6.0 or VCSA 6.0 Update 1. Good news, just hours ago, YouTuber Aqxea was apparently watching my How to update your VMware server to ESXi 6.0 Update 1b the easy way video, and kindly dropped just the right comment. Yay, YouTube Comments! Just as I was finally getting a moment to sit down and apply the upgrade tonight.

    It's a simple method that works for everybody, just published by David Stamen earlier today:

    Important Note - update your VCSA before your ESXi!

    You are supposed to update your vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) before you update your ESXi hosts, as VMware explains here, and William Lam here. FYI, I type it as VCSA instead of VCSA, just because that's how it's capitalized in VMware's VMware vCenter Server 6.0 Update 1b Release Notes.

    David's steps have been tested, and work great in my home lab. I've added some important details, as also seen in the video below. These instructions are geared toward home lab (non-production) environments. Perform these steps at your own risk, and backup first.

    Download and apply the VCSA 6.0 Update 1b patch directly from the VMware Online Depot, all in one simple command!

    1. Create a snapshot of your current VCSA VM, just in case the upgrade doesn't work out. This may allow you quick and easy rollback. Even better, a full backup.
    2. Open an SSH session (PuTTY) to your VCSA 6.0 (or VCSA 6.0 Update 1) server, but don't type the usual shell.set command.
      (if you forgot to enable SSH, here's how)
    3. Put your ESXi host into maintenance mode, and ensure you've set your ESXi host to automatically gracefully shutdown all VMs upon host reboot, and to auto-start the VCSA appliance at boot time.
    4. Paste the following command in the ssh session, at the Command > line seen right after you login:
      software-packages install --url --acceptEulas

      Now you just wait for the download and the patching, to happen automatically. No need to watch, takes longer that way.

    5. After at least 6 minutes (depends partly on download and hard drive speeds), you should see this success reported on the last line:

      login as: root
      VMware vCenter Server Appliance
      Type: vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller
      root@vcenter's password:
      Last login: Wed Jan 13 02:34:43 UTC 2016 from on pts/1
      Last login: Wed Jan 13 03:02:54 2016 from
      Connected to service
      * List APIs: "help api list"
      * List Plugins: "help pi list"
      * Enable BASH access: "shell.set --enabled True"
      * Launch BASH: "shell"
      Command>  software-packages install --url --acceptEulas
      [2016-01-13T01:38:21.013] : Validating software update payload
      [2016-01-13T01:38:22.013] : Validation successful
      [2016-01-13T01:38:22.013] : Running
      [2016-01-13T01:38:22.013] : Verifying staging area
      [2016-01-13T01:38:22.013] : Third party packages found.
      [2016-01-13T01:38:22.013] : Staged 65 packages.
      [2016-01-13 01:38:22,830] : Copying software packages 65/65
      [2016-01-13 01:42:55,472] : Running test transaction ....
      [2016-01-13 01:42:57,089] : Running pre-install script.....
      [2016-01-13T01:44:16.013] : Services stopped.
      [2016-01-13 01:44:16,377] : Upgrading software packages ....
      [2016-01-13 01:45:14,733] : Running post-install script.....
      [2016-01-13T01:45:16.013] : Packages upgraded successfully, Reboot is required to complete the installation.
      One Command - Packages upgraded successfully, Reboot is required to complete the installation.
      Here's how my upgrade from [Build 3018523] to [Build 3339084] looked after the successful 6 minute download/patch, when I requested the host reboot through the vSphere Web Client.
    6. If you turned on maintenance mode earlier, remember to turn it back off.
    7. You need to restart VCSA by issuing the reboot -r updates command in your SSH session. OR, OPTIONALLY: Restart your ESXi server using vSphere Web Client or vSphere Client, by right-clicking on the host and selecting restart, this will restart VCSA as well. I prefer to know they'll be no surprises after a complete system reboot.
    8. Download and install VMware vSphere Client 6.0 Update 1b. You'll want to grab the client code and install it now, while waiting for that long reboot. If you have a prior 6.x version on your Windows system that's doing administration, this will automatically upgrade it. Download build 3249451 here:

    9. Once everything is booted back up and VCSA has had a good long while to start all its services (even with an SSD, that can be 10 minutes), it's a good idea to also test login to the vSphere Web Client, and be sure everything seems to be working right in that shiny new VCSA.

    10. If you created a snapshot back in step one, if you're comfortable that everything is working in (which is seen as Build 3339084 in the vSphere Client and vSphere Web Client), you may want to go ahead and delete snapshot(s).
    vCSA appliance patch success
    Yep, it worked!

    That's it! You'll see for yourself that you now have the latest VCSA, as pictured above. Now you have more spare time to read more TinkerTry articles, such as the one you'll really want to read next:


    How to update your VMware vCenter server to VCSA 6.0 Update 1b the easy way

    Update Jan 13 2016

    If you're upgrading to 6.0U1b and already have some VM templates built on an earlier release, you'll want to read this:

    Here's the VMware Tools 10.0.5 download site:

    After trying the steps in this article, if you'd like to share your experiences, please don't hesitate to drop a comment below!

    Update Jan 25 2016

    I found the web UI clumsy for reliably updating VCSA to U1b, since it behaves strangely:

    but I would guess that'll be the technique we'll all be using in the future.

    See also at TinkerTry

    See also