When the vSphere Update Manager is not available, the ESXi 5.5 upgrade to 6.0 can be performed using the CLI commands.
If you work with a single host or VUM is not available to perform the "easy way" upgrade, esxcli commands allow the administrators to upgrade the hypervisor directly from the command line using the ESXi Offline Bundle image.
From VMware website download the ESXi 6.0.0b Offline Bundle file.
Upload image to the datastore
To allow the upgrade, you need to upload the Offline Bundle file to a datastore reachable by the ESXi.
Open the vSphere Client and go to the Summary tab, right click the datastore to use and select Browse Datastore option. Note the current ESXi version 5.5.0, 2718055.
Click the Upload icon and select Upload File option.
Select the Offline Bundle image and click Open.
Click Yes to proceed.
The file is being uploaded to the datastore.
When the upload is complete, close the Datastore Browser.
Shutdown the active virtual machines and put the host in Maintenance Mode. Right click the host and select Enter Maintenance Mode option.
The host is now in Maintenance Mode.
Upgrade the host
To perform the upgrade, the software profile update command is used to updates existing VIBs with the corresponding VIBs from the specified profile but does not affect other VIBs installed on the target server.
Connect the ESXi via SSH (SSH must be enabled) and set the firewall rules for httpClient running the command:
~ # esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClient
The correct update version is required to execute the command. List the available ESXi 6.0 updates (you need the latest that ends in "standard") running the command:
~ # esxcli software sources profile list -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml | grep ESXi-6
Identified the correct version (in the example ESXi-6.0.0-20150704001-standard), run the command:
esxcli software profile update -d <path>/<volume_name>/<image_name> -p <profile_name>
Pay attention to run the software profile update command because software profile install overwrites drivers that the ESXi host needs.
~ # esxcli software profile update -d /vmfs/volumes/ts421_lun06_raid5/ESXi600-201507001-OfflineBundle.zip -p ESXi-6.0.0-20150704001-standard
Reboot the host to complete the upgrade.
When the ESXi has rebooted, right click the host and select Exit Maintenance Mode.
Fix NICs not detected
The ESXi has been upgraded to version 6.0.0-2809209 but in the example the datastores are not connected to the host.
Checking the Network configuration, the iSCSI VMKernel port doesn't have any NIC attached. The adapter hasn't been detected during the upgrade because the NIC installed in the host is a Realtek 8168 no longer supported.
Install missing drivers
To fix the problem, Andreas Peetz made a procedure to inject the drivers directly into the host.
Run the following command to set the acceptance of the host to “community supported”
~ # esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported
Install the missing driver by running the command:
~ # esxcli software vib install -d https://vibsdepot.v-front.de -n net55-r8168
Reboot the host.
After reboot, the host is able to detect the missing NIC.
With the working NIC, the datastores connections are restored successfully.
The ESXi upgrade is now complete. Previous configuration is retained and the hypervisor is fully functional.