Patch VMware ESXi hosts by command line

There a several ways to patch a VMware ESXi server. vSphere Update Manager (VUM) can update for example a complete ESXi host cluster fully automatic. vSphere Update Manager requires a vCenter Server. When you don’t have a vCenter Server patching can be done from the command line.

Here is a quick overview of how to patch an ESXi 6.x  or 7.x host to the latest patch or version (from ESXi 6 to 7 for example).

Step 1. Download the latest patch bundle from the VMware Web site, link . VMware ESXi patches are cumulative!  Each patch bundle (.zip archive) includes all the updates from prior patches.

Step 2. Upload the patch bundle (zip) to a (central) datastore with the vSphere Client (prior vSphere 6.5), vSphere Web Client, ESXi host client.

Step 3. Enable SSH

In the vSphere Web client start the SSH service and make a SSH session to the ESXi host

Step 4. Put the host in maintenance mode

vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_enter

Step 5. Install the patch bundle

Using esxcli with the install method has the possibility of overwriting existing drivers. If you are using third-party ESXi images, VMware recommends using the update method to prevent an unbootable state. The following command will install the patch bunde:

esxcli software vib update -d /vmfs/volumes/datastore/

For example install HPE ESXi 6 Update 3:

esxcli software vib update -d /vmfs/volumes/VMFS01/

After the patch bundle is installed check the message. It must say “The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be rebooted for changes to be effective.”

Step 6. Reboot the host  by entering the following command:


Step 7. Make a SSH session to the ESXi host and exit maintenance mode

vim-cmd hostsvc/maintenance_mode_exit

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