Getting started with the vCSA 6.x – Part 3

In part 1 and part 2 of this series about the vCSA, we have covered topics like; the shells, filesystem, services, health, logging, database and some extra tools. Recently I realised there a few more topics worth mentioning.

Appliance MUI

In pre 6.0 releases of the vCSA, there was a vCenter Server Appliance Management Interface, better known as the VAMI. This management interface is written in HTML5 and is now called the e Appliance Management User Interface (Appliance MUI).

You will find the new management interface in vCSA 6.0 and 6.5, however there are some differences.

You can login to this interface, using: https://<vCSA fqdn or IP>:5480. Us a local account such as the “root” account.

Fig. 1 – Summary vCSA 6.0.

The Summary shows information like; type, build number, overall health status. The Access sections controls the SSH login and the Bash shell. The Networking and Time sections allows viewing and changing Networking and Time settings. The Update section will be covered in more detail in the next session of this post.

Finally the Administration section allows changing the local root account password.

The vCSA 6.5 has three additional sections; Syslog Configuration, CPU and Memory and Database.

Fig 2. Summary vCSA 6.5

The CPU and Memory and Database sections present nice graphical overviews.

As most of these configuration settings can also be changed using the CLI, the Appliance MUI offers a nice and easy alternative.

For more information read this VMware blog.

 

Updating the vCSA – GUI way

Keeping the vCSA up to date is of great importance. Recently, updating the vCSA was one of the measures to combat “Spectre”.

The Appliance MUI offers several ways to install updates.

Fig. 3 – vCSA Update

For both vCSA 6.0 and 6.5 the procedures are identical.

In general, there are two ways to obtain the updates for the vCSA:

– from a Website (URL)

– from CDROM

When using a website, you have two options, if the vCSA can reach the Internet, you can down download the patches from the VMware Repository. Alternatively you can configure the vCSA to an internal Repository (must be a web server). The Repository settings can be found under the Settings button.

Details how to prepare the internal repository can be found in VMware KB “Patching the VMware vCenter Server Appliance from a Zipped Update Bundle (Version 6.0 Update1b and above) (2142009)”. The .zip file for the repository can be found on the products page, like: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?productId=491&downloadGroup=VC60U3D

Fig. 4 – Settings button

Here, you can also select to Check for updates automatically.

Fig. 5 – Available updates via URL

If found, available updates will be shown. Before you install updates, have a look at the More details section. You can choose to install All updates (VMware plus third-party updates) or only the Third-party updates.

VMware updates are vCenter Server application updates, third-party updates are OS, Java, etc.

If the vCSA has no Internet access or no internal repository is available, you can update using an ISO file.

Important: The .ISO files found on the regular product page, are not suitable for updating the vCSA.

Instead download vCSA patches from: https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch#search

The file has a name like: Vmware-vCenter-Server-Appliance-6.0.0.30400-7464101-patch-FP.iso, where FP stands for “Full Product”. “TP” patches are Security and Third-party patches only.

Fig. 6 – vCSA patches

To install patches from CDROM;

– Download the correct patch file.

– Connect to the ESXi hosts where the vCSA VM runs.

– Select the vCSA VM and mount the .iso file to the CD/DVD drive 1.

– Login to the vCSA Appliance MUI, go to the Update section.

– Button Check Updates, select Check CDROM.

If the .ISO file is OK, the Update Status should show: Update source: ISO. Updates are available.

Fig. 7 – Available updates via ISO.

You can now proceed and install the updates. After the installation of the updates, the vCSA will reboot.

 

Updating the vCSA – the CLI way

If you prefer working from the CLI, there is one more option, while using the .iso file.

To install patches from CDROM, using the CLI;

– Download the correct patch file.

– Connect to the ESXi hosts where the vCSA VM runs.

– Select the vCSA VM and mount the .iso file to the CD/DVD drive 1.

– Login in to the console of the vCSA, either using the vSphere (Web) Client or setup a SSH session.

– make sure you are in the Appliance shell. For more info on the Appliance shell, read my post.

Run the following commands:

– Stage the patches, although first work your way through the EULA.

Command> software-packages stage --iso

– The next command is not necessary, but recommended, as it shows the updates ready for installation:

Command> software-packages list --staged

– To install the updates:

Command> software-packages install --staged

The installation should end with the following message: “Packages upgraded successfully. Reboot is required”.

Now reboot the appliance.

 

Fig. 8 – Update using the CLI.

As always, I thank you for reading.

More posts about the vCSA:

vCSA, How to disable IPv6?

vCSA, default shell is BASH

vCSA, best way to create support bundles

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