Upgrade ESXi host to ESXi 5.5 using VMware Update Manager 5.5

A while back I wrote about how to upgrade to ESXi 5.5 via command line which works great when you only have a few hosts as each host has to download the ISO from the web each time. This time I’ll show you step by step how to upgrade your ESXi 5.1 host to ESXi 5.5 using VMware Update Manager 5.5 (aka VUM).

For this post I’m going to assume you have already upgraded your vCenter and VUM to versions 5.5 as well as the VUM plugin installed. So lets begin!

Upgrade ESXi host to 5.5 using VMware Update Manager (VUM)

  1. Open the vSphere client and click on Update Manager
    VMware Update Manager icon

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VMware vCenter Server 5.5b released

vmware vcenter 5.5b released

VMware hasn’t let the holidays get in their way and has released vCenter Server 5.5b (Build 1476387) along with vCenter Server Appliance 5.5.0b (Build 1476389). The update includes a number of fixes.

Resolved Issues in 5.5.0b

Upgrade and Installation

  • Upgrading the vSphere Web Client to vSphere 5.5 fails with an error
    Attempts to upgrade the vSphere Web Client to vSphere 5.5 fails when they are installed in a custom, non-default location. An error message similar to the following is displayed:

    Error 29107. The service or solution user already registered...

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Restore a VM using the {vm}-flat.vmdk file

missing vmdk file error

A couple days ago I was asked the question “An admin deleted the vmdk file associated with a VM, there are no snapshots or backups of the VM . Can we restore this VM somehow?“. I believe in backups, I like to have my VM’s backed up so that I can depend on them for events just like this very issue. At first I was stumped, until the {vm-name}.flat.vmdk was mentioned. That’s when I remembered a method to recover a VM using the vm-flat.vmdk file that I had actually done 2-3 years ago.

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Set default printer for View floating desktop and Persona Management

Sometime ago I asked a question over at the VMware forum about how to set default network printers on a VMware View 5.0 floating pool that used Persona Management as Persona Management wasn’t keeping this user setting on it’s own. The printers would be added to the VM just not remember the default printer setting. I’ll admit I forgot to update the thread, but a work around was devised which I’ll share below.

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Increase incremental backup speed by enabling CBT

In a recent VMware environment I was working in, we noticed that our incremental backups was taking a long time (like up to 7-8 hours) to complete. After digging around it was found that VMware actually has a feature built-in since version 4 called Change Block Tracking (CBT). CBT will track any blocks that were changed since the last backup and tag them and stores the information in a -CTK file. The obvious benefit is that now the third party software only backs up the changed block and not the entire VM each time, reducing the amount of data being backed thus speeding up backups and even lowers the CPU utilization on the VM host.

CBT is disabled by default though there are some backup tools that will enable it automatically or you can enable it manually which can easily be done following these steps:

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How to install VisualEsxtop

If you haven’t already heard, VisualEsxtop is a Fling developed by a few VMware Engineers that provides a java based GUI to the every useful ESXTOP. As an added bonus provides a description of each counter, multiple windows, the ability to sort metrics, and even provide basic graphs. Oh and it’s FREE!

Setup and install on Windows 7 is pretty easy as well:

Visual ESXtop

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Shrink a thin provisioned VMDK disk

When maintaining a Horizon View environment I like to keep my parent images as small as possible and over time a thin provision disk can start to grow on you if you don’t watch it – be it from downloading installers, updates, or even running disk defrag. While there isn’t a simple, one click button in the View Administrator Console there is a fairly easy manual method using vmfkstools.

Before we can use “vmkfstools” to shrink the VMDK file we must zero out any unused space on the thin provisioned disk. A simple way of doing this is by using a free utility called SDelete from Sysinternals.

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VMware vCenter Server 5.5.0a update released

VMware has released an update to vCenter 5.5 Server. The new updated, numbered 5.5.0a doesn’t appear to add any new features but instead focus on squishing a number of bugs in the 5.5 version – mostly around vCenter Single-Sign-On and the vSphere web client.

Issues resolved with this release are as follows:

  1. Attempts to upgrade vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) 5.1 Update 1 to version 5.5 might fail with error code 1603
  2. Attempts to log in to the vCenter Server might be unsuccessful after you upgrade from vCenter Server 5.1 to 5.5
  3. Unable to change the vCenter SSO administrator password on Windows in the vSphere Web Client after you upgrade to vCenter Server 5.5 or VCSA 5.5
  4. VPXD service might fail due to MS SQL database deadlock for the issues with VPXD queries that run on VPX_EVENT and VPX_EVENT_ARG tables

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How to shadow a VMware Horizon View desktop

Ever work on a View 5.x Desktop issue and needed access to the desktop it self while in use? While not a feature that is easily enabled say via the vmTools or the View Administrator console – it can however be easily enabled via Group Policy, similar to some other settings that I mention in the Windows 7 Optimization Guide.

Enable PCoIP Shadowing

  • Import the pcoip.adm GPO Template.
  • Navigate to: Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Classic Administrative Templates (ADM) > PCoIP Session Variables.
  • Enable “Enable access to PCoIP session from a vSphere console”.
  • Link the GPO to the OU where your View Desktops reside.

shadow pcoip policy

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