Upgrading vCSA (vCenter Appliance) from 5.1 to 5.5

Upgrading vCSA (vCenter Appliance) from 5.1 to 5.5

VMware has made updating the vCSA (vCenter Server Appliance) very easy – and with the popularity of the vCSA growing daily, its a good thing.

First thing is first, we want to update our vCSA 5.1 appliance to the latest build of 5.1.


  • Verify after the update that you are on the latest build


At this point, we are ready to start the upgrade process from 5.1 to 5.5.  It should be noted that this is not an “upgrade” but actually an install and reconfigure. What I mean is that we are actually deploying a new appliance, and the upgrade process automates moving the database, and settings over to the new appliance – including networking settings.  So, in the end, our new 5.5 vCSA will be powered on with all our data, and the old 5.1 vCSA will be powered off, ready to be deleted.

The Upgrade:

  • First, we will deploy the OVA file.  I won’t go over deploying the OVF template, since it’s a fairly easy process.
  • One deployed, power on the new 5.5 vCenter Appliance
  • Note the IP address (assuming DHCP) and log into the management page for the appliance – https://5.5-vCSA-IP:5480
  • The vCenter Server Setup Wizard will start – Select “Upgrade from previous version” and choose next.


  • At this point, we need to exchange keys between the 2 appliances.
    • On the 5.5 vCSA, copy the key that is generated
    • Paste this key into the import dialog box on the old 5.1 server
    • The 5.1 server will generate a key – paste that key into the new 5.5 vCSA


  • Click Next, and choose to generate new SSL Certificates (unless you are using custom certificates)


  • Choose Next, and type in a new (or the same) SSO admin password


  • On the next screen, we choose what hosts will be managed by the new appliance. Select all the hosts to start the upgrade checker.


  • The following screen will report on any host problems that may be preventing an upgrade.


At this point, we are ready to start the upgrade.  Make sure to take a SNAPSHOT of the current vCSA 5.1 server.  If for some reason the upgrade does not complete, both vCSA appliances will be in an unusable state. Reverting back to the snapshot will be the recovery method should that happen.

  • Check the box to confirm that you have taken a snapshot, and click start.


  • The server proceeds with the upgrade, and gives no additional feedback until complete.
  • To monitor the progress,  SSH into the 5.1 vCSA server, and type:

tail -f /var/log/vmware/vami/upgrade.log


  • Once completed, the wizard will display the successful message.


The 5.1 vCSA appliance will shutdown, and the new 5.5 vCSA will reboot, and be configured with the same IP address, and all data.  It may take a longer time for all the services to start for the first time on the new appliance.


How to upgrade your VMs’ virtual hardware to version 9 with ESXi 5.5

After upgrading your ESXi hosts to 5.5 the “Upgrade Virtual Hardware” function of the legacy vSphere Client will update the virtual hardware of a VM to version 10, although the legacy client is not able to edit the properties of version 10 VMs (see my earlier post about How to update to ESXi 5.5 …). Only the Web Client is able to do this with version 10 VMs, and that requires vCenter. If you do not have vCenter available or do not feel comfortable with the Web Client for other reasons then you want to avoid upgrading virtual hardware to version 10. But how can you upgrade to only version 9?
Depending on the type of license you have and the availability of vCenter there are several ways to achieve this:
1. If you are using paid or non-expired evaluation licenses, have vCenter available with the Web Client installed and configured then you can use the Web Client to schedule a virtual hardware upgrade for a VM in its Virtual Hardware settings:

Choose Compatible with “ESX 5.1 and later” to upgrade the VM’s virtual hardware to version 9 upon next reboot.
2. If you are using paid or non-expired evaluation licenses for your ESXi host(s), but do not have vCenter available then you can use a simple PowerCLI cmdlet:

# Connect to host

Connect-VIServer your_hostname

# Upgrade hardware of the VM named Hw8Test

Set-VM -VM Hw8Test -Version v9 -Confirm:$false

The VM needs to be powered off before you run this command.
3. If you are using the free ESXi license then you cannot use the PowerCLI script, because the free license limits write access through the APIs. But you can use the following vim-cmdcommands in an ESXi shell:
  vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms
will list all VMs that are registered on the host. Find the VM that you want to upgrade and note itsvmid. Then run
  vim-cmd vmsvc/upgrade vmid vmx-09

An example:

Again this only works with VMs that are powered off.

Source: http://www.v-front.de/

Running Dell DSET remotely on ESXi

For those using Dell hardware, when you log the job with Dell Support, they’ll ask you to run a DSET report. This collects various information of the server including service tag, all hardware devices, firmware versions etc.
There’s 3 ways to get DSET info.
1) Install DSET locally
2) Run DSET LiveCD
3) Run DSET remotely and create a report on a local server.
Each option has their pros and cons.
The DSET download is available at www.dell.com/dset.

Install DSET locally

This is pretty straight forward. You can do a normal install and keep the software installed, or choose to create a one time local DSET report. Useful if you don’t want to keep unnecessary software on your servers. Doesn’t require an outage/reboot.

Running DSET LiveCD

Get the latest version at http://linux.dell.com/files/openmanage-contributions/ (omsa-71-live). This will boot into a CentOS LiveCD to the graphical user interface with the Dell utils you need on there. You don’t need to know the root password, but it’s “dell”.
Here you can run the DSET util and save it to a USB disk, vFlash, or network share / scp remotely. The DSET output is saved to /tmp/data/.
This requires an outage as it needs to boot from DVD.

Running DSET remotely

So, first we need to install the OpenManageServer Administrator Bundle version 7.4 – you can find that located here.  Go ahead and download the zip file and extract to /var/log/vmware on your host.  Yes, the package will look for that specific path so you will need to be sure it is in /var/log/vmware.  From there we can simply install the vib with the following command

esxcli software vib install -v /var/log/vmware/cross_dell-openmanage-esxi_7.4.ESXi550-0000.vib

Next – DSET

The version of DSET that we will install is 3.6.  The installation for DSET is the standard Next Next type of install – so I won’t go over much of that – just be sure to select both the CIM provider and the collector.  You can find it here.   Once done you are good to go.  Launch a command shell (as administrator) and browse to c:\Program Files(x86)\Dell\AdvDiags\DSET\bin and run the DellSystemInfo.exe command with your desired parameters (example below)

c:\Program Files(x86)\Dell\AdvDiags\DSET\bin\DellSystemInfo.exe -s IP_OF_Host -u root -d hw -n root/dcim/sysman -r C:\DSET.zip

For more info, run dellsysteminfo.exe /h, or just run:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Dell\AdvDiags\DSET\bin> dellsysteminfo.exe -s servername -u root -d hw,st,sw,lg -r c:\temp\servername-dset.zip
Dell System E-Support Tool, Version 3.5.0
@2004-2013 Dell Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Please enter “root” password:
* Gathering Chassis information…
* Gathering Software information…
* Gathering Logs…
* Gathering System Summary information…
* Preparing and Compressing Report…
* Saving DSET CIM report to path: c:\temp with report file name: servername-dset.zip


Failed to gather Software/Logs data. Check the IP Address and credentials: – Ensure ssh is enabled.
Failed to gather Software/Logs data. Either user is not part of sudoers list or NOPASSWD is not configured – try using the root account.
Some detailed information is missing from the report: reset OpenManage services.

DSET Output

Once the DSET report has been saved, you can send it to Dell Support for investigation. If you’re curious about what’s contained in report, unzip using the super secret password “dell”, and run the dsetreport.hta file.

There you go!  Your Dell DSET log that you can now forward off to support to get your issues looked after.  This certainly isn’t a very difficult thing to do but troublesome nonetheless trying to match up versions to make things work.  Anyways, hope it helps with anyone having issues.

VMware Tools on CentOS

Note: This will work on VMware vSphere, Workstation, or Fusion


Open terminal and switch to the root user

su root


Update the VM

yum update


Reboot after the updates have completed



Log back in, open terminal, and switch back to the root user

su root


Install the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC)

yum install gcc kernel-devel


Mount the VMWare Tools ISO

mkdir /mnt/cdrom 
mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom


Copy VMware Tools to the hard drive

cp /mnt/cdrom/VMwareTools*.gz /tmp


Navigate to the /tmp folder

cd /tmp


Extract the VMware Tools tarball to /tmp

tar -C /tmp -zxvf VMwareTools*.gz


Drill down into the extracted directory

cd vmware-tools-distrib


Execute the installer




Failure to install VMware Tools

To solve this issue, remove the /etc/vmware-tools/locationsfile and reinstall VMware Tools.

  1. Open a terminal. For more information, see Opening a command or shell prompt (1003892)
  2. Run the command:

    rm f /etc/vmware-tools/locations

  3. Reinstall VMware tools.


You will be prompted during the installation to choose the preferences for the VMware Tools install. You can go ahead and hit enter for the default settings. 

Once the installation has completed exit the root user. You’ve successfully installed VMware Tools on your CentOS Linux VM.