Place the host in maintenance mode, then run the following command to do an online update to ESXi 5.5:
~ # esxcli software profile update -d https://hostupdate.vmware.com/software/VUM/PRODUCTION/main/vmw-depot-index.xml -p ESXi-5.5.0-1331820-standard
While this runs, monitor the log file to check upgrade process:
~ # tail -f /var/log/esxupdate.log
Let it run for a while all the way until it´s finished, reboot the host and hey presto, fresh new ESXi 5.5 upgrade completed! Quick and dirty, just the way we like it.
To verify the version, still using the command line, issue the following command:
~ # vmware -l
VMware ESXi 5.5.0 GA
Of course, test this thoroughly before doing this in a production environment, after all your hosts might need VIBs not included in the standard download.
To find out which patches to apply, and what the correct profile name would be, check out the VMware ESXi Patch Tracker by Andreas Peetz. It’s a great resource to keep track of patches for your ESXi hosts.