How to upgrade a Wireless LAN Controller from Cisco’s Prime Infrastructure

Cisco’s Prime Infrastructure (PI) is the management tool to manage wireless controllers. One of the functions of PI is to push out software to wireless controllers for software upgrades.

There are a few steps that you need to do in order to make this work.

1. The controller needs to be manage by PI
2. Copy the new image to an FTP or TFTP Server (You can use PI for this)
– I like to use WinSCP, Login to PI with Root and copy your image to the /localdisk/ftp folder
3. Enable TFTP or FTP on the PI server
– In the Classic Theme go to Administration –> System Settings –> Server Settings
– Click the radio button next to FTP or TFTP (What ever you are going to use). The default TCP Ports are already set for you.
4. Set the username and password for the FTP Server
– From the command line, logging in as root issue the following command to set the username and password.
ncs passwod ftpuser username password password



After you have PI setup as an FTP/TFTP server you are now ready to transfer the image out to the controller.

1. Find the controller you want to upgrade and place a check in the box next to it
– Configure –> Controllers
2. From the “Select a command” select “Download Software(FTP)…”. Click GO.
(I like to use FTP for my WAN connected controllers and TFTP for my LAN connected controllers)
3. The next screen shows you the controller you selected and the file transfer options
– Download Type “Now” or “Schedule download to controller”
– Select NOW to transfer now
– Select Schedule download to controller to transfer it later
– FTP Credentials, enter the username and password of your FTP server.

– FTP Server information
– Select FTP
– Enter the IP address, even if it is your PI Server
– Enter the Server File Name (Your image name)
– Click Download

Prime will then display the status of the controller image transfer. Under Details, mine displays the following message % Error: Config file transfer failed – No reply from the TFTP server. At first I thought this was telling me that it failed. It’s not, you simply need to wait for the file to complete the transfer. You may notice that your web browser will automatically refresh while the file is being transferred. Depending on the circuit speed to the WLC, it may be a short or long time. Once the file is complete, you will receive the following message under Details

FTP File transfer is successful. Reboot the controller for update to complete. Optionally, pre-download the image to APs before rebooting to reduce network downtime.

To activate the new software you need to reboot the controller. Find the controller you want to reboot (Configure –> Controller) and place a check in the box next to it, then select “Reboot Controllers” from the drop down in the upper right, then click GO

The error message must be a minor bug while the file is being transferred. You can log into your controller and perform a debug to validate this is working.

You can use the following command

debug transfer all enable

***Notice the 2 minutes and 25 seconds between 2nd and 3rd Log entry***

*Aug 12 14:02:18.696: RESULT_STRING: FTP Code transfer starting.

*Aug 12 14:02:18.696: RESULT_CODE:1

*Aug 12 14:04:43.847: ftp operation returns 0

*Aug 12 14:04:43.853: tftp = 6, file_name=AIR-WLC2100-K9-7-0-235-3.aes, ip_address=10.10.10.11, msg=Unknown error – refer to log

*Aug 12 14:04:43.853: upd_get_code = 6 (target=268435457 msg=Unknown error – refer to log)

*Aug 12 14:04:43.853: RESULT_STRING: FTP receive complete… extracting components.

*Aug 12 14:04:43.853: RESULT_CODE:6

*Aug 12 14:04:55.656: RESULT_STRING: Executing Product Check TLV.

*Aug 12 14:04:55.657: RESULT_STRING: Executing Version Built TLV.

*Aug 12 14:04:55.657: RESULT_STRING: Warning: Unknown TLV ignored.

*Aug 12 14:04:55.658: RESULT_STRING: Executing init script.

*Aug 12 14:04:55.774: RESULT_STRING: Executing backup script.

*Aug 12 14:04:56.667: RESULT_STRING: Writing new bootloader to flash disk.

*Aug 12 14:04:56.778: RESULT_STRING: Executing install_bootloader script.

*Aug 12 14:04:56.831: RESULT_STRING: Writing new RTOS to flash disk.

*Aug 12 14:04:57.754: RESULT_STRING: Executing install_rtos script.

Disable debugging with the following command.

debug disable-all

Have any of you run into this same error and found another way to upgrade your controllers?

If you found this helpful, please share it!!

3 thoughts on “How to upgrade a Wireless LAN Controller from Cisco’s Prime Infrastructure

  1. I get the same thing from the Lifecycle Theme. It tells me “% Error: Config file transfer failed – No reply from the TFTP server.

    I selected FTP and I simply waited a while and it did complete the install.

  2. Cisco Support confirmed this error while performing an FTP to the WLC is a bug, CSCue07192.

    Cisco Support identified that the (SWIM) Image Management and Supported Devices process is not supported in the LifeCycle view. Bug CSCue08438

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