Upgrading ESX without Update Manager
Once in a while, you have to do a BIG update to ESX and Update Manager (as cool as it is) just won’t help. You have to go to the command line to upgrade. 3.5 Update 1 made us do that and so would an upgrade from say 3.0 to 3.5. Here is a quick and easy way to do it.
To upgrade during production hours, you can preform a rolling upgrade on the ESX servers utilizing vMotion to move all the workloads from 1 server to the remaining servers and then upgrading the ESX hosts 1 at a time. Be sure to put them into Maintenance Mode before beginning each one.
After downloading the package to your workstation, you will need to upload it to the ESX servers.
Copy Upgrade package to your ESX servers.
I use Filezilla but any SFTP program will work fine. Copy package to /tmp/.
Putty into your ESX server. If you haven’t enabled root access, check out this post.
Run unzip VMware-* to unzip the package and then Run esxupdate –r file:/tmp/3.5.0-64607/ update or if you are in the /tmp directory already you can just run esxupdate update.
Once the upgrade is complete, the server will restart and you can take it out of maintenance mode.