How to patch and update a Dell Server running VMware ESX 3.5

In this post, we’re going to run through patching/upgrading the firmware on a Dell PowerEdge 1950 III Server running VMware ESX 3.5.

The procedure should also apply to most recent Dell Servers running ESX 3.5, but your mileage may vary 🙂

Get your hands on the Software Update Utility DVD ISO and Burn it.

In terms of time, this is pretty much half the job, believe it or not. You’ll need to goto support.dell.com, find your Dell Server, and get the Dell Updates DVD ISO. For the PowerVault 1950 III, go here and then look under Systems Management for “Dell – DVD iso Images” “applies to: DVD ISO – Dell Server Updates”.

Patching the Dell Server

 

  1. Be sure to VMotion off any Guest OSs that you need to keep running. Shut down everything else, and then put the target server into Maintenance Mode.
  2. Insert the Updates DVD into the Server
  3. Bring up a command prompt, as root, on the Server and run the following to mount the CD-ROM: mount /mnt/cdrom
  4. Now navigate to the CD-ROM: cd /mnt/cdrom
  5. Check what’s upgradeable on your system: sh suu -c
  6. If you’re happy, then run the upgrade: sh suu -u
  7. That’s it, you’re done 🙂

VMware ESX: This product has expired

If you find you can’t Power On a virtual machine on ESX 3.5, and you’re seeing this in your error logs:

Message from esxserver.yourdomain.com: This product has expired. Be sure that your host machine’s date and time are set correctly. There is a more recent version available at the VMware Web site: “http://www.vmware.com/info?id=4”.

Then you can find the solution at this blog.

Thanks Todd, you just saved me from pulling an all-nighter. I thought I was going crazy!

Update: The first signs of this problem occuring are that, when you try to Power On a virtual machine, you get the error message: “A General System error occurred: Internal error”. After checking the Events log, you’ll see the more verbose error message earlier on in the post.

Enable Automatic Start Up for Guest OS on VMware ESX and ESXi

This one had me tearing my hair out. We needed to enable auto startup on some of our Virtual Machines on the VMware ESX server, but I couldn’t for the life of me work out how. After a stupid amount of Googling around, turning up nothing, I actually RTFM! Page 177-178 had the answers 😉

Here’s how to do it:

Launch the Virtual Infrastructure Client. If you don’t have it, just http:// to your VMware ESX host and grab it from the front page.

Go to the Configuration tab of your ESX Server, then click on Virtual Machine Startup/Shutdown.

By default (I’m pretty sure) automatic startup is disabled. To enable it, click on “Properties…” on the far upper right of the window.

You’ll now see this window:

Check/Tick “Allow virtual machines to start and stop automatically with the system”.

Now, this is the bit where I nearly cried…

You know you want to “enable” your Guest OSes to automatically boot, but how? I tried clicking and dragging, right clicking for a context menu to enable “Automatic start up” and gave up.

Turns out, you need to click on the Guest OS you’d like to enable, and then click “Move Up” until it sits underneath the “Automatic startup” title. Argh!

I really hope this helps someone out! 🙂

How to force VMware to generate a new MAC address for a virtual machine

How to force VMware to regenerate a MAC address for a virtual machine (or guest OS).

  1. Shut down the Guest OS.
  2. Open up the .vmx file.
  3. Delete the following lines (that begin with…):

     
  4. Boot up the Guest OS again, and it should generate new details in the vmx file (I’d check afterwards to be doubly sure).

 

The most common scenario for wanting to do this is if you’ve used a “template” Guest OS and copied it to multiple PCs, but accidentally clicked “I moved this Virtual Machine” rather than “I copied this Virtual Machine” when first booting the Guest OS in something like VMware Player.

If you tell VMware that the Guest OS was copied, it automatically generates new UUID info and MAC addresses. If you tell VMware that you moved the Guest OS, all unique identifiers are left alone (including the MAC address). By performing the steps above, you can get VMware to generate you some new, unique identifiers, and stop weirdness on your network 😉

Dell PowerEdge 1950 III supports VMware ESX 3.5 (Update 1)

For anyone wondering if VMware ESX 3.5 will install on a Dell PowerEdge 1950 III, the answer is Yes. I just ran through a full install and everything looks great.

Screenshot below, showing system through VMware Infrastructure Client.