We are running a Cisco WLC 5508 with version 7.6.120. We have over 100 autonomous APs around the globe. The latest CAPWAP firmware from Cisco's website for these APs contains CAPWAP code for 7.6.100, not 7.6.120. So each AP I load this with and reboot will then download the latest firmware from the WLC so it has 7.6.120.

This causes a lot more downtime on the APs, especially ones over poor WAN connections. Some sites are 24/7 operations and downtime on the APs can cause production problems if there is not adequate overlapping WIFI coverage.

So I am trying to find a way to pull the update from WLC manually to my laptop to preload on the AP so when I reboot it I only need to configure it in WLC, not wait for it to download another full firmware package. That or send the latest code direct from the WLC to the autonomous AP.

Is this possible? Or am I stuck loading firmware twice on these APs to convert them?

EDIT: The AP models are 1252, 1262, 2602E, and 3602E all running various 15.X autonomous firmware.

EDIT3: I've tried Smithers' suggestion of grabbing the firmware from a fully updated CAPWAP AP connected to the WLC. It appears to work when I generate the tar file:

ap-01#archive upload-sw flash:2602.tar
Image info:
    Version Suffix: k9w8-.152-4.JB5
    Image Name: ap3g2-k9w8-mx.152-4.JB5
    Version Directory: ap3g2-k9w8-mx.152-4.JB5
    Ios Image Size: 215552
    Total Image Size: 13701632
    Image Feature: WIRELESS LAN|LWAPP
    Image Family: AP3G2
    Wireless Switch Management Version:

However, when I try to load this file on an AP, I get a different set of info for the image. Direct from the info file in the tar file:

version_suffix: diagk9w7-.152
version_directory: ap3g2-diagk9w7-mx.152
image_name: ap3g2-diagk9w7-mx.152
ios_image_file_size: 215552
total_image_file_size: 10097152
image_feature: WIRELESS LAN|LWAPP
image_family: AP3G2
system_type: 0x9b

I am unsure why this is a "diag" image and why it is instead of

  • You should be able to use the predownload command on the WLC CLI "config AP image predownload" you can then specify if you want it as the primary or backup image. Is this more or less what you are looking for, or do you prefer to go the laptop route?
    – David
    Aug 7, 2014 at 15:27
  • Doesn't that require the AP to already be a CAPWAP AP controlled by the WLC? These are autonomous APs that I need to preload with the CAPWAP firmware for the flip. Aug 7, 2014 at 15:29
  • Sorry I misunderstood the question.
    – David
    Aug 7, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    Just out of curiosity, how many critical 24/7 sites are you running with poor WAN connectivity and why? I presume the why is money, but I always like to know. It could be that the WAN connectivity is not critical to operations at that site, etc. But usually in my experience 24/7 Mission Critical sites get the good stuff when it comes to connectivity. Or did I read that incorrectly and you were speaking about two separate groups of sites. Aug 7, 2014 at 17:41
  • The ones with poor latency are all international sites. They have the option of jumping on the MPLS for 2-5k/mo or they can use a local ISP with a VPN tunnel. Most go the VPN route due to cost. All US sites are on the MPLS and it isn't an issue, though loading the firmware is still slow. Last night I loaded the 7.6.100 manually in 250seconds. The 7.6.120 it downloaded from the controller took 20 minutes. So the speed issue isn't completely from the WAN. If I could load 7.6.120 direct while it is autonomous, it'll solve everything though. Aug 7, 2014 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


Turns out this is a bug and is on file already with Cisco.

From Cisco TAC:

A bug has already been filed on this type of scenario. Here is the bug ID- CSCuo44475

This should be addressed starting with the 8.0 FCS / 7.6 MR3( releases - i.e. at that point you should be able to download the applicable k9w8 image, install it on the AP, and then join that AP directly to a WLC, without having to re-download the software. is expected to be released by end of this month and 8.0 in September.


Take one copy of each of your AP models. You DO have one of each in a lab, right? (If not, you need to push to get this budgeted.)

Connect them to your WLC so they get the updated code.

Console in, download the image for each model.

TFTP the appropriate image to each AP worldwide*. Be aware this is going to suck if you don't know how to automate SSHing into the worldwide APs and having them download the image. I don't, and it sucked... and mine were just national!

Set the boot image, reboot, and pray. (If atheist, drink or smoke... or work on your resume/cv...)

Enjoy when they come up working.

The * means I lied. Do NOT push this to everything at once! What are you, crazy?? Test 1 in the field. Then 2. Then maybe 10... then 50... 100... 1/4th of our environment, then MAYBE all the rest!

http://supportforums.cisco.com/ helped me through this a LOT. Might be time to get SmartNet on your WLCs and try to have TAC do this for you. They could actually supply the images for each of your AP models as well.

  • Your idea sounds feasible. I tried it tonight on my home lab and it says it is uploading but when I take the tar file it makes and download it to an AP, it reports and says it is a diag image. I'll try more tomorrow at work. I did try TAC and they would only supply the staple image from cisco.com's site. They stated that 7.6.100 was the first image for the 7.6 train, so all 7.6 compatible firmware they release will have 7.6.100 in it, nothing higher. Then the AP has to get the latest off the WLC. Aug 8, 2014 at 2:15
  • I updated the question with the results. I think this is definitely the right direction, just need to figure out why the image isn't quite correct. Aug 8, 2014 at 2:40
  • I can't recall the details. I'd followup with TAC on this with results. Are you preloading the image? You may need to swap/interchange the image... not 100% positive. Glad it helped some!
    – Smithers
    Aug 11, 2014 at 23:30
  • The TAC bug ID lists this in the workarounds but mentions that it does not work as expected and doesn't result in a usable image. Seems they have a few issues to fix on this one. Aug 15, 2014 at 18:39

You have to pre-download to your WLC, then pre-download to your APs Then, when you're ready, you tell the APs & WLC to reboot using the newest OS.

I've used the following link to help me understand Cisco's documentation last time I upgraded the WLC & APs on our network.


As per the WLC configuration guide:

  1. Download new image to the WLC.
  2. Change the new image to backup image. > config boot backup)
  3. Predownload new image to access points > config ap image predownload {primary | backup} {ap_name | all}
  4. Swap primary and secondary image on AP > config ap image swap {ap_name | all}
  5. Make sure all APs have done with the predownload
  6. reset system in HH:MM:SS image {swap | no-swap} reset-aps [save-config]

Note that once Downloaded (to the WLC or the AP) the current image becomes the BACKUP, so it could be a good idea to swap the image until you're ready in case of accidental reboots.

  • These APs are autonomous. Not connected to a WLC. We are not updating our WLC, we are converting autonomous APs to CAPWAP APs. The WLC is already at the latest version but Cisco's website does not offer this version for APs directly. So we have to covert the AP to any CAPWAP firmware, then let it register on the WLC and download the new firmware the WLC is on. We cannot use an older firmware on the WLC or our 2700 APs won't work. Aug 7, 2014 at 18:16
  • Oops, sorry, didn't see that until you pointed it out again. Unfortunately, the way Cisco engineered their wifi setup limits you as to what you can do. With a WCS (and maybe Prime) you can "manage" an autonomous AP and "upgrade" it to LWAP one at the time (or in batch, your choice). I know of no methods that enable you to do that from a PC (the one I knew required the AP to be directly connected to the PC - LAN + Console) Aug 7, 2014 at 18:44

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