AI without GPUs: Using Intel AMX CPUs on VMware vSphere with Tanzu Kubernetes

I was invited to AI Field Day 4 in Santa Clara last week to present a couple of talks on running AI workloads on Intel AMX CPUs. This is a recording of the talk I did on setting up Tanzu Kubernetes for running workloads that use Intel AMX CPUs.

Hope you find this useful.


Upgrading vCenter 7 via the command line

Updated on 2021-10-26.

I have vCenter installed and I want to update to When I run Update Planner > Interoperability it reports that all of my ESXi hosts are running ESXi 7.0.1. If I run the pre-update checks I get “No issues found”. When I go to the appliance to do the upgrade, both “Stage Only” and “Stage and Install” are greyed-out and unselectable.

vCenter 7 Appliance Available Updates screen

I tried a dozen different tricks, including ssh-ing into the appliance as root and editing the /etc/applmgmt/appliance/software_update_state.conf file, but nothing could enable the “Stage Only” and “Stage and Install” buttons.

Use the command line

I finally decided to try upgrading via the command line. I have backups going back 30 days. I even double-checked and yes, my NFS server has files in the backup directory for each of the past 30 days and they have data in them. There’s probably even a way to restore one of those backups if something goes horribly wrong. Onwards!

I was already logged into the vCenter appliance shell as root. The next thing I needed to do was to figure out where the command line tools were hidden. I found them in /usr/lib/applmgmt/support/scripts.

Disclaimer: I work at VMware, but I have no idea if the following is an “acceptable practice” or not. If your production vCenter is broken and you have a support contract, call support. If you’re messing around on a home or test system and you don’t care how badly you screw it up, feel free to try the command line tools.

root@vcenter [ ~ ]# cd /usr/lib/applmgmt/support/scripts
root@vcenter [ /usr/lib/applmgmt/support/scripts ]# ls -al
total 108
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root  4096 Aug 30 18:18 .
drwxr-xr-x 4 root root  4096 Aug 30 18:18 ..
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root   205 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root   633 Aug 15 07:16 manifest-verification
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root   286 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  2056 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  3396 Aug 15 07:16
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 Aug 30 18:18 postinstallscripts
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  5207 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  4171 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root   251 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  4001 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  3910 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root 35773 Aug 15 07:16
-r-xr-xr-x 1 root root  8085 Aug 15 07:16
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 Aug 30 18:18 tests

These are the Python scripts that are linked to the Command shell. I’m actually in the root shell. I can run these directly from the root shell, or exit back to the Command shell and use them in the “official” way. In case I need to pull in support let’s do this the official way.

The script is what does the upgrade. Let’s exit back to the Command shell and see what it says it supports.

root@vcenter [ /usr/lib/applmgmt/support/scripts ]# exit
Command> software-packages
usage: software-packages [-h] {stage,unstage,validate,install,list} ...

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit

    stage               Stage software update packages
    unstage             Purge staged software update packages
    validate            Validate software update packages
    install             Install software update packages
    list                List details of software update packages

Stage the packages for the update

Since the appliance wasn’t letting me upgrade, I thought I’d first check to see if I already have upgrades staged.

Command> software-packages list --staged
 [2021-01-22T21:45:41.022] : Packages not staged

OK. Nothing staged. How do I stage packages?

Command> software-packages stage --help
usage: software-packages stage [-h] [--url [URL]] [--iso] [--acceptEulas] [--thirdParty]

optional arguments:
  -h, --help     show this help message and exit
  --url [URL]    Download software update package from URL. If no url is specified,
                 catalog/valm/vmw/8dc0de9a-feedl-1337-be0a-6ddeadbeefa3/ is used.
  --iso          Load software update packages from CD/DVD drive attached to the appliance
  --acceptEulas  accept all Eulas
  --thirdParty   Stage third party packages.--thirdParty should only be usedwith --url.

Sounds clear enough. I’ll try that:

Command> software-packages stage --url --acceptEulas
 [2021-01-22T21:46:28.022] : Latest updates already installed on VCSA, Nothing to stage

Well that’s not correct. There’s definitely an update available. Re-reading help again I notice that the default URL looks something like:

I’ve obfuscated the actual URL, but that’s a vCenter 6.7.0 URL, I’m using 7.0.0, and I want 7.0.1.

I go back to the appliance web UI and click the Update > Settings button.

vCenter 7 Appliance Update screen

Settings shows a different URL for 7.0.1, so I copy and paste that into the command line:

Command> software-packages stage --acceptEulas --url
 [2021-01-22T21:48:28.022] : Target VCSA version =
 [2021-01-22 21:48:28,781] : Running requirements script.....

Update as of 2021-09-21: I just found out about the update.get and update.set commands, used to find and set the default URL used for downloading updates on the command line.

If you type:


… you’ll get the Currenturl (set when you first installed vCenter) and the Defaulturl (what you should be using to update vCenter). If you then type:

update.set --currentURL default

The Currenturl gets set to the Defaulturl. After that you can type:

software-packages stage --url --acceptEulas

… and the software gets staged from the Currenturl, which is the same URL used by the vCenter GUI.

Installing a specific version of vCenter

Update as of 2021-10-26: The steps shown above are fine if you want to stage the latest update, but what if you want a specific version of vCenter, not the latest?

Right now I’ve got a vCenter and there are two updates available, and If I run update.get:

Command> update.get
Checkupdates: disabled
Time: 00:00:00
Day: Everyday
Latestupdateinstalltime: 2021-09-23T00:03:48.493Z
Latestupdatequerytime: ''
Username: ''
Password: ''

(License number obfuscated in the above URLs, use your own.)

Note the “.latest” at the end of the URLs. If I use that URL for staging, but change the version to the specific version that I want (without the .latest extension):

software-packages stage --url

I’ve just staged for install, and that’s the version that will be installed, even though there’s a later version available.

Trust but verify

A little while later everything was staged. I decided to validate everything.

Command> software-packages validate
 [2021-01-22T21:50:11.022] : For the first instance of the identity domain, this is the password given to the Administrator account.  Otherwise, this is the password of the Administrator account of the replication partner.
Enter Single Sign-On administrator password:

 [2021-01-22T21:50:22.022] : Validating software update payload
 [2021-01-22 21:50:22,327] : Running validate script.....
 [2021-01-22T21:50:26.022] : Validation successful
 [2021-01-22T21:50:26.022] : Validation process completed successfully

Then I check to see what’s staged:

Command> software-packages list --staged
 [2021-01-22T21:50:45.022] :
        category: Bugfix
        leaf_services: ['vmware-pod', 'vsphere-ui', 'wcp']
        vendor: VMware, Inc.
        name: VC-7.0U1c
        size in MB: 5107
        tags: []
        version_supported: []
        productname: VMware vCenter Server
        releasedate: December 17, 2020
        updateversion: True
        allowedSourceVersions: [,]
        buildnumber: 17327517
        rebootrequired: False
        summary: {'id': 'patch.summary', 'translatable': 'In-place upgrade for vCenter appliances.', 'localized': 'In-place upgrade for vCenter appliances.'}
        type: Update
        severity: Critical
        TPP_ISO: False
        thirdPartyAvailable: False
        nonThirdPartyAvailable: True
        thirdPartyInstallation: False
        timeToInstall: 0
        requiredDiskSpace: {'/storage/core': 30.353511543273928, '/storage/seat': 32.21015625}
        eulaAcceptTime: 2021-01-22 21:48:37 UTC

Well, that shows:


Which is the version I’ve been trying to upgrade to, so that looks good.

Did I mention that I have backup copies of vCenter going back 30 days? Well I do. If this goes really sideways I’m going to have to restore one of them.

Let’s do the update!

Command> software-packages install --staged
 [2021-01-22T21:51:23.022] : For the first instance of the identity domain, this is the password given to the Administrator account.  Otherwise, this is the password of the Administrator account of the replication partner.
Enter Single Sign-On administrator password:

 [2021-01-22T21:51:43.022] : Validating software update payload
 [2021-01-22 21:51:43,716] : Running validate script.....
 [2021-01-22T21:51:47.022] : Validation successful
 [2021-01-22 21:51:47,730] : Copying software packages 251/251
 [2021-01-22 21:55:37,642] : Running system-prepare script.....
 [2021-01-22 21:55:42,661] : Running test transaction ....
 [2021-01-22 21:55:44,678] : Running prepatch script...
 [2021-01-22 21:58:27,896] : Upgrading software packages ....
 [2021-01-22T22:02:10.022] : Setting appliance version to build 17327517
 [2021-01-22 22:02:10,242] : Running patch script.....
 [2021-01-22 22:11:34,245] : Starting all services ....
 [2021-01-22T22:11:35.022] : Services started.
 [2021-01-22T22:11:35.022] : Installation process completed successfully

That was it. The actual update took about 20 minutes, and although the UI said no reboot was necessary vCenter did reboot during the update. When it was done vCenter was running version

The vCenter appliance Update “Stage Only” and “Stage and Install” buttons are still greyed-out and unselectable, but right now there are no updates available so that’s how they should be. I’ll have to wait for the next update to see if they’re working again. If the buttons are still broken, at least now I know how to use the command line to install an update.

Hope you find this useful.

“Package discrepency error, Cannot resume!”

Update as of 2021-06-30: I have successfully upgraded a couple of times since I wrote this article using the GUI and the “Stage Only” and “Stage and Install” buttons are no longer greyed out when an update is available.

I did run into an issue upgrading from to where I got the error “Package discrepency error, Cannot resume!” [sic] when I tried to stage the update. Also when upgrading from to Both times I resolved the error and got the upgrades to install by following the steps in William Lam’s article Stage Only & Stage and Install buttons disabled when updating to vSphere 7.0 Update 2a. According to William these steps will need to be repeated until 7.0.3 is released:

Command> shell
rm -rf /storage/core/software-update/updates
rm -rf /storage/updatemgr/software-*
rm /etc/applmgmt/appliance/software_update_state.conf
rm /storage/db/patching.db*
rm -r /storage/core/software-update/*

Update as of 2021-10-26: I tried the UI today to upgrade from vCenter to, and the UI still failed, so I used the command line to upgrade to

Once was installed I was able to upgrade to using the UI, so it looks like the UI problem has been resolved in 7.0.3 as William said it would be.

Test transaction failed to update packages”

Update as of 2021-09-21: I was upgrading a couple of vCenter instances today to the latest release and on one vCenter I got the error:

 [2021-09-21T17:35:56.264] : Validating software update payload
 [2021-09-21T17:35:56.264] : UpdateInfo: Using product version and build 17958471
 [2021-09-21 17:35:56,064] : Running validate script.....
 [2021-09-21T17:36:00.264] : Validation successful
 [2021-09-21 17:36:00,084] : Copying software packages 152/152
 [2021-09-21 17:55:01,033] : Running system-prepare script.....
 [2021-09-21 17:55:06,053] : Running test transaction ....
 [2021-09-21T17:55:07.264] : Installation process failed
 [2021-09-21T17:55:07.264] : Test transaction failed to update packages

Test transaction failed to update packages” means something failed with the package install, so I read through /var/log/vmware/applmgmt/software-packages.log and looked for lines with ERR in them. Found out that I ran out of log space in /storage/log. Once I freed up some space I re-ran the update and it installed fine.


Updating the vCenter appliance root password

If you’re like me, you rarely ssh into your vCenter appliance as “root”. However, the time comes when you need to update vCenter, you run the “Pre-Update Checks” — and because you never log into the appliance — you get the message that your root password needs to be updated before you can install the update.

So… log into the vCenter Service Management Console (https://your-vcenter:5480), click Access and then Edit. Make sure that SSH Login, DCLI, Console CLI, and BASH access are all enabled. Set the BASH timeout to 15 minutes so it gets disabled automatically when you’re done.

Once you’ve done that, ssh to the appliance.

$ ssh

VMware vCenter Server

Type: vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller

Received disconnect from port 22:2: Too many authentication failures
Disconnected from port 22

Did you get a “Received disconnect … Too many authentication failures” message? Don’t worry, no one is hacking into your vCenter, it’s just that you have more than one ssh key on your keyring and for some reason someone at VMware thought that it would be a great idea to set the vCenter ssh setting MaxAuthTries = 2. Your first ssh key counts as one try, your second ssh key counts as attempt number 2, and… you’re done. vCenter won’t let you log in.

To bypass public key authentication checks entirely use the -o PubkeyAuthentication=no parameter for ssh:

$ ssh -o PubkeyAuthentication=no

VMware vCenter Server

Type: vCenter Server with an embedded Platform Services Controller's password:
Connected to service

    * List APIs: "help api list"
    * List Plugins: "help pi list"
    * Launch BASH: "shell"


Now get to the bash shell by typing shell, then passwd to set the new password, and you can update the root password:

Command> shell
Shell access is granted to root
root@vcenter [ ~ ]# passwd
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully
root@vcenter [ ~ ]# exit
Command> exit
Connection to closed.

Before you log out, run the Pre-Update Check again to verify that vCenter sees that the password has been updated. This time you should get the message “No issues found. Pre-update checks have passed.”

Hope you find this useful.