How to easily update your VMware vCenter Server Appliance to VCSA 6.5

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 20 2016 (updated on Feb 7 2017) in
  • ESXi
  • Virtualization
  • HowTo
  • HomeLab
  • vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 Release Notes 15 NOV 2016 | Build 4602587


    Warning - vCenter/VCSA 6.x should be upgraded to 6.5 before upgrading your host(s) to ESXi 6.5!

    Different approaches

    The TinkerTry'd method that works reliably in my home lab just isn't ready yet, I'll update this article as time permits. A serious bug, where I'm unable to get a fresh-installed VCSA 6.5 to survive a simple reboot, showing blank inventory in vSphere Web Client and vSphere Client. This is slowing me down a bit, and was already reported here:

    The gist of the new slick upgrade method is that Windows users simply double-click on the downloaded file named:
    VMware-VCSA-all-6.5.0-4602587.iso
    to mount it as an ISO, then you launch
    E:\vcsa-ui-installer\win32\installer.exe
    to kick off the wizard style Upgrade routine that looks like the image below.

    2016-11-28_10-51-29

    You can see the complete process with screenshots at

    I can say that it's not quite as simple as it was when we moved from 6.0 to 6.0U2, jump below to the end of the story below to learn why that is. Or have a little fun first.

    Here's how we used to do this, when moving up to just a minor point-release:

    software-packages install --url --acceptEulas

    That method doesn't seem to realize there's major new upgrade to 6.5 out there for the asking:

    software-packages-command-doesnt-work

    How about a little creative alteration to the command, adding the --url parameter that allows me to specify the remote repository location at VMware? I've not found anybody else trying this (with good reason, keep reading). Why not give it a go, to see what happens, to learn how VMware has anticipated this sort of silliness:

    software-packages install --url https://vapp-updates.vmware.com/vai-catalog/valm/vmw/8d167796-34d5-4899-be0a-6daade4005a3/6.5.0.5100.latest/ --acceptEulas

    Nice try, but no go, as it runs the pre-stage.py script, errors out with:
    Repository does not contain updates for this product.
    as shown below:

    software-packages-command-with-url-doesnt-work

    You can read all about how it was done so easily before vSphere 6.5, in my original post:

    easy-upgrade-to-vcsa-60u2
    SolarWinds-VM-Monitor-doesnt-know-Photon-OS

    So that's enough tinkering, time to move onward.

    It's more of a migrate than an update

    Learn more about Photon OS at VMware:

    Photon OS™ is a minimal Linux container host, optimized to run on VMware platforms.

    upgrade-vcsa-55-60-to-vcsa65
    Will I get Photon OS when I upgrade my VCSA 5.5/6.0 to VCSA 6.5? by William Lam

    and check out the Photon OS wiki at github, and William Lam's Will I get Photon OS when I upgrade my VCSA 5.5/6.0 to VCSA 6.5?, that explains:

    VCSA upgrades are "Migration" based upgrades and has been since the very first release of the VCSA in vSphere 5.0.

    So we're being moved from SuSE/SLES to Photon OS for this major upgrade, I just haven't tested it all out yet. For now, as always, be sure to back up your VCSA first (NAKIVO or Veeam or many other options), then follow along at:

    JonKensey
    Photon-version-1-0-splash-screen

    Nov 29 2016 Update

    This bug, where I'm unable to get a fresh-installed VCSSA 6.5 to survive a simple reboot, is still an issue. What happens is that it installs fine and works great, until VCSA is restarted, along with the ESXi host. All I see is a blank inventory in vSphere Web Client, and in (HTML5) vSphere Client. This is slowing me down a bit, and was already reported here:

    When pointing my browser to the vcsa appliance like this:
    https://vcsa
    below you'll see the error I sometimes get:

    503 Service Unavailable (Failed to connect to endpoint: [N7Vmacore4Http20NamedPipeServiceSpecE:0x00007feeac069480] _serverNamespace = / action = Allow _pipeName =/var/run/vmware/vpxd-webserver-pipe)

    Dec 21 2016 Update

    I've resolved this VCSA issue, reporting exactly how in the same community post. Yay! This article is now complete.


    See also at TinkerTry


    See also

    Emad-Younis-blog
    JonKensey
    VMware vSphere 6.5 taskbar shortcuts can make your Chrome browser UIs look like native Windows apps!