Like the question “How do I install the HP Insight Agents on ESX”, this is the second most asked question regarding ESX:

For those who never had the luxury of having an internet connection for their VMware hosts, applying patches to the 2.x, 3.0x versions was a lot of work. Patches had to be downloaded, the correct patching order had to be observed and you had to keep track of which patches were already applied.

Thankfully, VMware has changed the patching setup for ESX 3.5 and we can now use depots to patch our servers.

Setting up such a depot is quite easy. Set up a website on a server with connectivity to the service consoles and download the 3.5 patches from the VMware website.

http://www.vmware.com/download/vi/vi3_patches_35.html

Now unzip the patches into separate subdirectories and make sure to also download contents.zip

http://download3.vmware.com/software/esx/ESX-3.5.0-contents.zip

This file contains contents.xml and contents.xml.sig Unpack these file in the root of the url where the patches are. The directory structure should now look something like below

Now log on to the ESX service console and use the following command to run esxupdate:

esxcfg-firewall -o 80,tcp,out,httpClient
esxupdate -n -d http://192.168.1.120/3.5/ update
esxcfg-firewall -c 80,tcp,out,httpClient

The first command will open the firewall, the next will run the updates (-n will prevent an automatic reboot). The last command will close the firewall port again.

Of course you will need to change the url for the one you have set up.