Guidance for in-place upgrade of SLES 11 to SLES 12
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Guidance for in-place upgrade of SLES 11 to SLES 12


Article ID: 345525


Updated On:




This article provides guidance on how to perform in-place upgrade of SLES 11 to SLES 12 in a VM.

In-place upgrade of the guest operating system (between major OS release versions, such as SLES 11 to SLES 12) is not recommended. The best practice is to install a new major OS releases in a new VM.

Support considerations:
  • Read OS vendor's documentation and release notes to ensure the specific upgrade scenario is supported. If the OS vendor does not support a particular upgrade scenario, then VMware will not be able to provide support for such scenarios due to lack of ability to collaborate with the OS vendor.
  • In-place upgrade is a feature of the operating system, if problems are encountered, it is best to first contact the OS vendor for assistance. If the OS vendor has narrowed down problem to be specific to VMware software, then VMware can provide assistance.
  • Support for VMware software distributed by OS vendors (such as open-vm-tools, agents, and drivers) is provided in coordination with the OS vendors. If any fixes or patches are required to VMware software distributed by OS vendors, then these fixes or patches are typically distributed through the OS vendor utilizing their patching mechanism.
  • Some VMware products do not support in-place upgrade of the guest operating system in a VM. For more details, see VMware support for guest operating system upgrade (2018695).
  • Check VMware Compatibility Guide to ensure new operating system version is supported as guest on the VMware product.
  • Check the configuration of VM to ensure that it meets requirements to run new OS release. New major OS releases sometime increase the minimum require amount of memory, video ram, disk space, etc. In addition, performing OS upgrade consumes disk space, so ensure VM has adequate storage to complete the upgrade. It may be necessary to power off the VM to make some of these adjustments before starting the upgrade.
  • For all applications running in the OS, contact the application vendor to determine their support policies and guidance for conducting operating system upgrades.
Special considerations for SLES 12 upgrade:
  • Read SLES 12 release notes, located here:
  • SUSE's supported upgrade scenarios change over time as new SP releases become available. Typically, SUSE requires update to latest SLES 11 SP version before upgrade to SLES 12. Check latest documentation that scenario is supported.
  • A VM running 32-bit version of SLES cannot be upgraded to SLES 12 because SLES 12 is only available as 64-bit.
  • VMware virtual machines can be provisioned to select different operating systems to optimize virtualization. There is a unique selection for SLES 11 and SLES 12. For best performance, this section should be changed to SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (64-bit) after operating system upgrade. This change can only be made when the VM is powered off.
  • SLES 12 includes open-vm-tools, which is recommended for use with SLES 12. For more details, see VMware support for Open VM Tools (2073803).
  • SUSE began providing open-vm-tools as an optional package for SLES 11 SP4, but not earlier releases. If VM with SLES 11 SP4 is using open-vm-tools provided by SUSE, do not uninstall open-vm-tools before upgrade. During upgrade to SLES 12, the open-vm-tools package will be upgraded (for example from 9.4.6 to 10.0.7 or a later version).
  • Legacy VMware Tools (distributed in TAR format on an iso) are not recommended for use with SLES 12. Legacy VMware Tools should be uninstalled prior to upgrading operating system.
  • VM Tools in OSP Format (distributed on-line from are not available for SLES 12. OSP Format tools should be uninstalled prior to upgrading operating system.
  • If starting point is SLES 11 SP4, install open-vm-tools provide for SLES 11 SP4, which will be updated during operating system upgrade. If starting point is older SP release, then open-vm-tools should be done during or after the operating system upgrade upgrade.
  • If optional open-vm-tools-deploypkg package downloaded from has been install on open-vm-tools distributed by SUSE, then the optional open-vm-tools-deploypkg package should be uninstalled prior to upgrade. The newer version of open-vm-tools provided by SUSE for SLES 12 will include open-vm-tools-deploypkg.
  • SLE 12 does not support gtkmm2, however, open-vm-tool versions prior to 10.0.7 have a dependency on gtkmm2 for some functionality. Therefore, use of open-vm-tool version 10.0.7 or later is recommended.
  • If no X installed on a server, then open-vm-tools-desktop does not need to be installed.
  • Video and mouse Xorg drivers installed by VM Tools for SLES 11 are incompatible with the xorg-server included in SLES 12. Leaving these drivers installed during upgrade to SLES 12 may interfere with operation of compatible xorg drivers included in SLES 12 and result in poor video and mouse performance. Uninstallation of VMware Tools prior to upgrade will prevent this issue. For more details, see VMware mouse and video drivers not working after upgrading to SLE12 (2120590).
  • SLES 12 introduces in-kernel paravirtual vmware graphics driver (vmwgfx).
  • SLES 12 introduces in-kernel vmci driver and vsock kernel module. For SLES 11, these were distributed and install by VMware Tools. The uninstallation of VMware Tools before upgrade will remove this driver and kernel module. After upgrade, the SLE 12 in-kernel vmci driver and vsock kernel module should be utilized.
  • SLES 11 includes several in-kernel paravirtual vmware drivers (pvscsi, vmxnet3 and vmw_balloon). After operating system upgrade, SLES 12 will include newer versions of these drivers with enhancements and bug fixes.
  • VMware recommends use of the vmxnet3 paravirtual NIC on both SLES 11 and SLES 12. The vmxnet3 NIC is the only NIC option that is supported on both SLES 11 and SLES 12, so this is best option to use during upgrade process.
  • The e1000e NIC is a new supported option for use in a VM running SLES 12. On vSphere, the e1000e NIC can only be selected after changing OS selection to "SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (64-bit)".
  • The e1000 and vmxnet2 NICs are not supported by VMware on SLES 12. If the SLES 11 VM is using a e1000 or vmxnet2 NIC, change these NICs to vmxnet3. After changing OS selection to "SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (64-bit)", the e1000 or vmxnet2 NIC are not longer available in vSphere for selection. Using e1000 or vmxnet2 NICs in a VM configured for "SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (64-bit)" will generate errors on vSphere.


Recommended procedure:
  1. Create a test VM to practice the upgrade process and gain confidence that the procedure will be successful. The test VM could be a clone of a VM that is planned for upgrade, however, this is not recommended if the VM is interacting with external systems, such as a database. The best practice is to create the test VM by installing old OS release and applications in a newly created VM.
  2. Save a snapshot or backup of VM before making any changes. If upgrade fails, you can revert VM to saved snapshot and try again.
  3. Check configuration of VM to ensure that it meets requirements to run new OS release and adjust if necessary. Ensure that:
    • VM has adequate storage space to perform the upgrade.
    • VM is not using e1000 or vmxnet2 NICs.
  4. If VM includes open-vm-tools distributed by SUSE, then do not uninstall open-vm-tools. The update to SLES 12 will update open-vm-tool.
  5. If VM includes open-vm-tools distributed by SUSE and optional open-vm-tools-deploypkg package downloaded from, uninstall only the open-vm-tools-deploypkg package.
  6. If VM include legacy VMware Tools, uninstall VMware Tools:
    • To uninstall legacy VMware Tools, run the uninstall script: /usr/bin/
    • To uninstall OSP Format Tools, run the command: zypper remove 'vmware-tools-*'
  7. Perform upgrade.
  8. While VM is powered-off, change virtual machine's OS selection to SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 (64-bit) (sles12-64)
  9. Check the following items:
    1. Ensure vmci driver is loaded.
      # modinfo vmw_vmci
    2. Ensure vsock driver is loaded.
      # modinfo vsock
    3. Ensure open-vm-tools packages are installed. Install the packages if not installed.
      # zypper info libvmtools0 open-vm-tools open-vm-tools-desktop   ## should be Installed:Yes
    4. Ensure vmtoolsd system service is running
      # ps aux | grep vmtoolsd | grep -v vmusr
      # systemctl status vmtoolsd

    5. Ensure VGAuth service is running
      # systemctl status vgauthd