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VMware Software Manager Tool

There is a little free tool from VMware call VMware Software Manager (VSM) which you can use to help download and manage your VMware products installation media files into one central location. It has a simple interface where you can just browse for the product and version of the software that you would like to download which I think is far simpler than at the website.

There are some pre-requisites before starting this:
  • Plenty of disk space if you have a lot of VMware products and need various version of them 
  • Using one of the following operating system for where you will be installing this product; 
    • Windows 8.1 (Pro or Enterprise edition) 64-bit 
    • Windows 7 SP1 (Professional or Enterprise edition) 64-bit 
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 (Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter edition) 64-bit
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter edition) 64-bit  
  • The following browsers are supported and one of them needs to be installed where software manager is installed;  
    • Internet Explorer 10 or 11 
    • Firefox 40 or 41 
    • Google Chrome 45 or 46 
    • I am pretty sure newer versions of the browsers will still work but may not be tested
  • The browser used must allow the use of cookies, JavaScript, and DOM storage. The supported browsers allow the use of these features by default 
  • Incoming port TCP 8000 bounded to the localhost only where you are running Software Manager 
  • Outbound TCP ports to allow Software Manager to communicate to VMware download site to the following addresses and port numbers; 
    • depot.vmware.com - port 443 
    • download2.vmware.com - port 443 
    • download3.vmware.com - port 443
  • An “My VMware” registered account which permits you to download products

1) Go to https://my.vmware.com/en/group/vmware/info?slug=datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_software_manager/1_5 and you will be prompted to login with your registered VMware account.
2) Select which version to download and at the time of writing this was version 1.5 and then click “Download.
3) You will be taken to the next screen to show the available files to be downloaded. Select your preferred way of downloading and you will be greeted with the End User License Agreement which you must tick and accept before download will proceed.

4) On the PC that you are going to install Software Manager create a new directory where you will be downloading VMware products to. My one is “C:\download”.
5) Once downloaded execute the installer on the PC you wish to run Software Manager from. The version I have used in this example is 1.5.0.4322026.
6) Click “Next” at the first installer screen.
7) Tick box “I accept the terms in the License Agreement” and click “Next.
8) If you need to change the install location of Software Manager do so here. For the “Depot Location” change it to the one you want otherwise the default would be “C:\depot”. Click “Next”.
9) Click “Install” to install the product.
10) Once installed by default “Open Download Service web application” is ticked which will run the application once you click “Finish”.
11) Your default web browser will fire open to the url of http://localhost:8000. You have three choices on how you would like to connect to “My VMware”. I used my email address and password that I have registered with “My VMware”. Click connect once you have filled in your details.
12)  It will attempt to connect to VMware site with your credentials to start bringing down the catalogue of software that you can download. You would possibly see this message as below.
If after 5 minutes the screen doesn’t change then try to refresh the page (F5). If you get this screen then we would need to apply the fixes below before moving to step 13.

There seems to be a bug with the software at the moment where some files looks to be removed from the repository but they have not been removed them from the configuration files which causes Software Manager from working. With the help of the community thread https://communities.vmware.com/thread/568541 I have written the steps below in case there are more files that needs to be amended.

a) Shutdown the services for Software Manager. Go to the task bar of Windows and right-select Software Manager Icon which would bring up a menu. Select “Quit”. Make sure you do this step before proceeding on. 
b) Once you have quit the application you will now need to browse to the following location "c:\users\%CurrentLoggedInUser%\appdata\roaming\vmware\software manager\download service\logs". %CurrentLoggedInUser% is the username you are currently loggedin as to rn this application. 

c) You will see a list of log files and the one we are after is “stdout-vapi_server”. If you did not do “step a” then this file will be empty until you stop quit the application. Open the file to find which depot slot you are currently using. Then look for the text “failed to load:” which should highlight which file has failed and make a note of it.
d) The community thread has highlighted which file we should be modifying “dlg_ESXI60U3A.xhtml” so go to “C:\Users\%CurrentLoggedInUser%\AppData\Roaming\VMware\Software Manager\Download Service\Data\”%DepotSlot%\channel\” (%DepotSlot% is the slot directory information from previous step). Use your favourite text editor which I have used Notepad++ to open up “dlg_ESXI60U3A.xhtml".

e) We now need to find and remove the file that has failed to load from “Step c” so we either use the find function or find the name which will be between <li title=”associated-channels”></li> (about 6-8 lines down from the file).  
Once you find the text delete it from that line. If the text happens to be the last one like the one shown then make sure you remove the “,” from the last file name as well then save the file.
f) Below I have listed the files that I had to remove to get it working from “dlg_ESXI60U3A.xhtml” which should help you edit the file all at one go. I have also hosted the "dlg_ESXI60U3A.xhtml file at github which you can download to replace https://github.com/myvmx/myvmx/tree/master/VMware/vsm
  • dlg_DT_ESXI60_ADAPTEC_SAS_AACRAID_12152040 
  • dlg_DT_ESXI60_EMULEX_BE2ISCSI_112119717 
  • dlg_DT_ESX60_EMULEX_LPFC_1123200 
  • dlg_DT_ESXI60_HITACHI_HFCNDD_104220152 
  • dlg_DT_ESX60_INTEL_NIC_IXGBEN_153 
  • dlg_DT_ESXI60_MELLANOX_NMLX5_CORE_415103 
  • dlg_DT_ESXI60_PMCS_SMARTPQI_1001060 
  • dlg_DT_ESXI60_STRATUS_NIC_FTSYS_I40E_650100 
  • dlg_ESXI60U3A_OSS
Once you have removed all the entries and saved the file. Start Download Manager from the icon on your desktop and login with your “My VMware” credentials. If after a few minutes you refresh the page and get the same errors shown at step 12 then you will need to repeat the above from “step a”. Hopefully you will get the home screen as shown in step 13 and can proceed.

13) You should now be presented with a view of all the VMware software that is currently available and they will be grouped into sections. On the right hand side of the web page you have addition options such as including drivers, custom ISOs such as hardware vendor custom built from the likes of HPE, Dell.
If you click on the “cards” themselves then you get a brief description about the product.
If you see an “>” it means that you can drill further into the product itself to find what you want to download. We will just do a basic download so we would select “VMware vSphere” and click on “>”.
15) This will drill down to the versions that you can download so we will select VMware vSphere 6.5 and click on “>”.
16) Now you have to decide on which edition you would like to download. From this screen you can see that there is “>” as well as download icon. You will notice the disk space required if you was to click on the download icon at this point. You would be wondering why on earth it would need around 37GB? Click on the card itself and it will tell you what you would be downloading if you clicked on the download icon from this page.

As I don’t want to download everything I will be clicking on “>” to drill further down
17) You can select the sub products that you wish to download. For each of the product you can now see the number of files it will download and the total space required for the download. If you want to see what files will be downloaded then click on the card and it will tell you.  We will select “ESXI65U1” and click on the download button to start the download.
18) You will see that the card icon will change and also a progress bar at the bottom of thw web page. At this point you could close the browser or come back later while it is downloading. If you was to close the browser then you will need to just browse back to http://localhost:8000 to bring the page up.
19) Once the download is completed the card will change to show a folder icon. If you click on the folder icon it will take you to the source files that you have downloaded to the specified directory. Now that you have the files available locally you can use your chosen method to perform your VMware software installation.

Please note VMware Software Manager is not set to auto-start when Windows starts. Unless you want to check if there are any new software updates it is not necessary to start the software as you can browse to the download depot to retrieve the media files that you have downloaded previously.

At the time of writing my account has allowed me to download all the software available which is good for me to testing and a great way to easily build up my software repository of VMware software. It saves the headache of trying to locate the download pages on the website and finding if there are new updates.


References :
Release Notes 

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