Disclaimer: This method assumes you can install the default ESXi Image Profile with no additional drivers or packages, else you may have connectivity issue after the upgrade. If you still need to customize the ESXi Image Profile before installation, you will still need to use something like Image Builder and then upload that to your online depot.
Note: There are many ways that you can patch/upgrade your ESXi hosts, here is another article that provides more details for command-line only methods.
Before you get started, you will need to make sure that your ESXi host has the httpClient firewall rule enabled, else you will not be able to connect to VMware's online depot. To enable this, run the following ESXCLI command:
esxcli network firewall ruleset set -e true -r httpClientAlso make sure that your ESXi host can reach the following URL (you can specify a proxy if needed):
To view the available ESXi Image Profiles, run the following ESXCLI command (use the --proxy if you need to specify a proxy to reach VMware's online depot):
esxcli software sources profile list -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml
Note: Before you begin, make sure you do not have any running VMs and put your host into maintenance mode.
Let's go ahead and upgrade our ESXi 5.0 Update 1 host to latest ESXi 5.1. To install the new Image Profile, run the following command:
esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-5.1.0-799733-standard