Tag Archives: 5508

[Tutorial] Upgrading the firmware on a Cisco 5508 Wireless LAN Controller

This guide will show you what steps are needed to get your Cisco 5508 Wireless LAN Controller to the latest and greatest state.

  1. Download and install a TFTP Server program
    1. TFTPD is the recommend program to be used by Cisco.  It is a free and can be obtained from here: http://tftpd32.jounin.net/tftpd32_download.html
  2. Ensure your TFTP server instance is running and pointed to a directory of your choice.
    In this tutorial, I will be using C:\TFTP-Root as my directory for hosting firmware.
    Tftpd32
  3. Ensure you have an inbound firewall created to allow incoming connections to your machine on UDP port 69 if you will be using the TFTP option.
    UDP 69 - TFTP - Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
  4. Copy the firmware you want to transfer to the WLC to the TFTP server’s directory
    TFTP-Server Firmware Directory
  5. Login to your Cisco WLC and select the Commands tab
    Cisco WLC 5508 - Commands Tab
  6. Ensure the following settings are entered and then click the Download button
    1. File Type: Code
      Transfer Mode: TFTP
      IP Address: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (IP Address to your machine)
      File Path: / (Use a relative file path; for example, if your firmware was located at c:\tftp-server\cisco5508\AIR-CT5500-K9-7-6-110-0.aes, use /cisco5508/)
      File Name: AIR-CT5500-K9-7-6-110-0.aes (or whatever your firmware is called)
      TFTP File transfer is successful
  7. Click OK when prompted to transfer the firmware
    Please confirm that you want to initiated the Code download process
  8. Once the firmware has finished updating, click on the Click Here link to reboot the WLC.
    TFTP File transfer is successful
  9. On the System Reboot page, hit the Save and Reboot button.
    Cisco WLC 5508 - Commands - Save and Reboot
  10. Click OK on the Configuration will be saved and the controller will be rebooted prompt.
    Configuration will be saved and the controller will be rebooted - Click ok to confirm
  11. Once the wireless LAN controller reboots, you should now be on the firmware version you provided.  You can verify on the Monitor page.
    Latest WLC firmware with outdated FUS
  12. At this point, you can can be done with your upgrade, however, it is highly recommended you also upgrade to the latest (or compatibile), version of the Field Upgrade Software (FUS) in additional to the WLC firmware (provided Cisco has a new version). The same steps to upgrade the FUS are of steps 6-10.
    1. Additional note, the FUS takes a considerable amount of time to upgrade the WLC.  It is normal for the FUS to take 30-50 minutes to upgrade after applying the firmware.  If you are not busy or intersted, you can watch the FUS upgrade various components if you console into the WLC during boot to keep an eye on things.
  13. Once the WLC and FUS firmware versions have been upgraded to their compatbile versions, you should be good to go! 🙂

Pushing firmware through CLI

If you wish to push the firmware manually via TFTP or FTP, you can use the following commands below (order doesn’t matter as long as transfer download start is entered last).  The process is the same for uploading the firmware to the WLC, you only need to swap out the filename for either the FUS firmware or WLC firmware.

(Cisco Controller) > transfer download datatype code
(Cisco Controller) > transfer download mode tftp (can use ftp as well)
(Cisco Controller) > transfer download username user (only needed if using ftp)
(Cisco Controller) > transfer download password password (only needed if using ftp)
(Cisco Controller) > transfer download filename AIR-CT5500-K9-1-9-0-0-FUS.aes
(Cisco Controller) > transfer download path /
(Cisco Controller) > 
transfer download start


As of 4/14/2014, here are the latest firmware versions:

Release 1.9.0.0 for the Field Upgrade Software

Release 7.6.110.0ED for the Wireless LAN Controller


Notes: While upgrading our WLC from stock firmware, I received a strange error stating % Error: Code file transfer failed – Error while writing output file.  Please see my other blog post in regards to upgrading really old firmware on this device to the latest version: http://jackstromberg.com/2014/04/cisco-wlc-firmware-upgrade-error-code-file-transfer-failed-error-while-writing-output-file/

Cisco WLC Firmware Upgrade – % Error: Code file transfer failed – Error while writing output file

Symptom: When trying to upgrade your 5508 Wireless LAN Controller from an older firmware version (6.0.199.4 in my case), you receive the following error:

% Error: Code file transfer failed – Error while writing output fileError Code file transfer failed - Error while writing output file

Solution: When upgrading the firmware on the 5508, greater versions need to be applied incrementally.  Stock 5508 WLCs appear to be shipping with Software Version 6.0.199.4, the following firmware versions should be applied to reach the latest and greatest versions.

I applied the following upgrades to reach higher versions:

6.0.x  to 7.2.x ED

7.2.x ED to 7.x