VMware Flings : ESXi Compatibility Checker Hands-On Experience

VMware Flings : ESXi Compatibility Checker Hands-On Experience

Recently, one of my colleagues reached out to me and asked about this VMware ESXi Compatibility Checker Fling and honestly, I haven’t use this before so I thought a give it a go and share my experience with him. If I’m doing so, why I’m not sharing this in my blog. 

We had an outdated test ESXi host and I thought to use this free tool against this ESXi host and check the compatibility. Previously, we have done this and this host is not compatible with ESXi 6.5 and HBAs were not compatible with ESXi 6.0 even. For some testing purpose we have upgraded this to ESXi 6.0 and it was a great source for this test. I’d like to share my real hands-on experience with this post for my readers. Unfortunately, I had to blur and cut-off some places in my screen captures.  

This tool is freely available in VMware Flings site and you can download it here. I’d suggest you to give it a try if you are planing to upgrade your environment. Please note that since this is not available for the production use, it doesn’t have production support. Before use this tool, make sure to go through the VMware Flings Terms and get your self familiar with this Flings website.

Flings are experimental and should not be run on production systems.

You have to agree to the “Technical Preview License” and do not run this on the PROD environment before you download. 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Download

View the “Requirements” tab for the prior requirement of this Fling

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Requirements

Installing Python 3.6.5 (or above) for ESXi Compatibility Checker

Download Python 3.6.5 and install on your computer. 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Python 3.6.5 download

Download the Windows executable installer 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Executable

Run the installer and complete the installation (select the option to install “pip“)

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Run Installer

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Successful

Install “pyvmomi” running the “python -m pip install pyvmomi” command 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : install pyvmomi

Install “crypto” running the “python -m pip install crypto” command 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : install crypto

Install “openssl” in the same way with the “python -m pip install pyopenssl” command 

Extract the downloaded “ESXi Compatibility Checker” zip file you can see files similar to this

ESXi Compatibility Checker : extract

Open a command prompt and change the directory to the extracted fling folder and run “compchecker.py -s <VC_OR_ESXI_HOST> -u <USERNAME>” command to connect to a vCenter or a ESXi host. If you don’t have a trusted certificate you will get a prompt to access the Warning and type the password for the account then it will make the connection to the vCenter server. Prompt will change to the “VirtualCenter <VC_NAME>” 

ESXi Compatibility Checker: connect to the vCenter server

You can change the prompts with below commands : 

  • datacenters – list the available datacenters in the vCenter server
  • d <NUMBER_OF_THE_VC> – select and change the datacenter and prompt will change to “Datacenter <DC_NAME>” 
  • hosts – list the available ESXi Hosts 
  • h <NUMBER_OF_THE _HOST> – select and change the ESXi host and prompt will change to “HostAgent <HOSTNAME>”
  • hardware – to view the available hardware components
  • deselect – go to the previous prompt 
  • exit – exit from the tool

ESXi Compatibility Checker : prompts

To check the hardware compatibility for the hardware use “comp -s” command 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : comp -s

To validate the hardware compatibility use “comp -v” command, in my case my Dell R710 ESXi host running with outdated BIOS version and it has some incompatible HBA adapters. Compatibility verification generated these information clearly as below. 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : comp -v

This is my running BIOS version 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Running BIOS version

I verified the VMWare HCL with my server and it’s CPU and it was throwing the correct information, according to the HCL ESXi 6.0 needs at least BIOS version 6.4 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : HCL Check

I checked this against the DELL Compatibility Matrices, DELL has more latest version than 6.4. 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Dell Compatibility Matrices check

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Dell latest

Also, there was an incompatible IO Device (HBA) with ESXi 6.0 version and I checked the HCL and the generated link from the output 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : IO Device HBA

VMware HCL confirmed the same, there was no compatible device listed in the HCL 

The given link was exactly correct and the given out put confirmed that this IO device supports only to ESXi 5.5 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Generated Link

Check Possible Version for the Upgrade using ESXi Compatibility Checker 

Now let’s check how to check the possible versions for the upgrade using this tool, use “up” command to the next possible versions for this ESXi host

ESXi Compatibility Checker : up

To check the compatibility to a certain version, use “upto <VERSION_FROM_ABOVE> -s”, I check the possibility for 6.5 for this host. In my case, it gave the correct information this Dell R710 host was not compatible with the ESXi 6.5

ESXi Compatibility Checker : upto -s

Generate Compatibility Reports From ESXi Compatibility Checker

This tool has a great feature to generate the reports, it can be used to generate the reports with the current compatibility and a comparison with a version 

Use “compchecker.py -s <VC_OR_ESXI> -u <USERNAME>” -r

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Current Compatibility report

It will generate two reports in .CSV and HTML format in the same folder 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Compatibility reports in the folder

Report will be similar to this 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Sample report one

Here I have uploaded a sample compatibility check report generated following the above steps and command. Please note that the information in this report is not valid and I have altered the actual report. You can access the generated report from here

To generate a comparable report with a different version use, “compchecker.py -s <VC_OR_ESXI> -u <USERNAME> -r -v <COMPARISON_VERSION>” 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Comparison report command

Another .CSV and HTML format reports will be generated to the same folder 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Comparison Reports

Report will be similar to this 

ESXi Compatibility Checker : Sample Comparison report

Sample report can be found here

My Thoughts 

If you are planing to upgrade your current VMware environment to a newer version you have to go through a Compatibility check with all your hardware vendors. This can be a time consuming task and there is no easy other way to accomplish the compatibility check. Having worked with few upgrades I can confirm that this is the most important part of the planing phase. 

This Fling tool is one of the greatest way to check the compatibility across the ESXi hosts and its associated hardware components. In my hands-on use it provided almost the same results compare to checking the VMware HCL manually. Even though it produces a warning Saying “The compatible status may not be fully accurate, please validate it with the official VMware Compatibility Guide” I was not able to find any inaccurate information in the results which this tool provided. It is obvious that hardware vendors can have some latest release similar to my experience and checking with vendor compatibility matrices cannot be avoided in your planing phase. 

Unfortunately, this tool is not in production ready yet so it is not recommend to use in production environment. Let’s hope for the best. 

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