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Upgrading NetScaler VPX

Posted by Anton Khitrenovich on August 28, 2011

Last week I had to upgrade the NetScaler VPX box in our lab from version 9.2.something (one it was initially installed with) to the latest available (9.3.something at this moment). Quick search revealed a topic from Citrix Forums (which was not really helpful at that moment) and a KB article aiming to solve specific upgrade problem – which convinced me that it is at least doable. The lack of the information about the process usually means one of two things – either nobody needs that (hard to believe in this case) or it is too obvious to post about it. Actually, the upgrade process is really simple. Yet, this post may save you several minutes…

Here is a quote from NetScaler VPX FAQ document:

62. How is the VPX upgrade process carried out?
Upgrades are performed the same way as for NetScaler appliances: download a kernel file and use installns or the upgrade utility in the GUI. Once NetScaler VPX is initially installed, and NetScaler 9.1 (or later) Classic maintenance release/patch can be used to upgrade it.

OK, now – how do you upgrade physical NetScaler appliances? Here “Upgrading a Standalone NetScaler” topic from the NetScaler documentation comes to help.

First of all, you’ll need to download the maintenance build package and the corresponding documentation from Citrix Downloads site. Choose “NetScaler” as product and “Virtual Appliance” as hardware, then select desired version to upgrade to.

In the version page scroll to the bottom, select latest (or desired) maintenance build and download it. In case you want to download the build documentation (and you probably want to), click on “Show Documentation” and download the documentation package also.

Now this is the time to upgrade! As stated in the documentation, you have a choice of doing the process manually or via the Upgrade Wizard, which is accessible from the toolbar in the bottom of “System Overview” tab. I recommend you to start from the wizard – this way you can save some time if the upgrade process works as expected. And anyway it will upload the upgrade package to the NetScaler for you 🙂

The last page of the wizard will show you a shell window with the actual upgrade process:

Last login: Wed Aug 24 13:52:12 2011 from ...

Copyright (c) 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994
	The Regents of the University of California.  All rights reserved.

 Done
> shell
Copyright (c) 1992-2008 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
	The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

root@...# cd /var/nsinstall/9.3.50.3.nc/
root@...# tar xvfz /var/nsinstall/9.3.50.3.nc/build-9.3-50.3_nc.tgz
....
root@...# ./installns -G   -y

installns version (9.3-50.3) kernel (ns-9.3-50.3.gz)

  The Netscaler version 9.3-50.3 checksum file is located on
  http://www.mycitrix.com under Support > Downloads > Citrix NetScaler.
  Select the Release 9.3-50.3 link and expand the "Show Documentation" link
  to view the MD5 checksum file for build 9.3-50.3.

The instructions tell you to wait for the reboot prompt, which is supposed to look like:

Installation has completed.

Reboot NOW? [Y/N]

However, my installation was stuck on the following prompt:

  A new FreeBSD bootloader installation is required.

  Many files in /flash/boot will be overwritten.
  /flash/boot/defaults/loader.conf will be moved
  to /flash/boot/defaults/loader.conf.old

  One can either complete the new bootloader installation
  or cancel installing the new NetScaler update

  Do you wish to continue bootloader installation? [Y/N]

Since the window is not interactive, I had no choice but to abort the installation process and log in to the NetScaler console. The uploaded files remained in the directory shown in the log, so I simply invoked the same process manually. After I approved the bootloader installation, the upgrade process completed successfully.

root@...# cd /var/nsinstall/9.3.50.3.nc/
root@...# ./installns -G   -y
installns version (9.3-50.3) kernel (ns-9.3-50.3.gz)
  The Netscaler version 9.3-50.3 checksum file is located on
  http://www.mycitrix.com under Support > Downloads > Citrix NetScaler.
  Select the Release 9.3-50.3 link and expand the "Show Documentation" link
  to view the MD5 checksum file for build 9.3-50.3.

  A new FreeBSD bootloader installation is required.

  Many files in /flash/boot will be overwritten.
  /flash/boot/defaults/loader.conf will be moved
  to /flash/boot/defaults/loader.conf.old

  One can either complete the new bootloader installation
  or cancel installing the new NetScaler update

  Do you wish to continue bootloader installation? [Y/N] Y

  There may be a pause of up to 3 minutes while data is written to the flash.
  Do not interrupt the installation process once it has begun.

Installation will proceed in 5 seconds, CTRL-C to abort
Installation is starting ...
Copying ns-9.3-50.3.gz to /flash/ns-9.3-50.3.gz ...
........................................
Installing documentation...
Installing XML API documentation...
Installing NSConfig.wsdl...
Installing NSStat.wsdl...
Installing online help...
Installing SCOM Management Pack...
Installing GUI...
Installing Mac binary and Mac version file...
Installing NITRO...
Installing nslw...

Installation has completed.

Reboot NOW? [Y/N]

Reboot – and fresh NetScaler VPX 9.3 build 50.3 is ready!

P.S. Here is another article about upgrade to NetScaler 9.3 (not only VPX).

[Update Feb 2014: In the newer NetScaler versions Citrix fixed the prompt issue, so you can properly answer “Yes” or “No” in the UI.]

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