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IOS upgrade for Catalyst 6509 - need to find a supported, current image

We're upgrading a customer's existing Cisco 6509 chassis to a new 6509-E chassis (since the existing is End of Life) - all the other hardware (supervisors and line cards) is still supported and will work fine in the new chassis. They are also running an EoL IOS version, and although they haven't really had any problems, we want to upgrade that as well to a supported image.  

Here is a snippet of their current system:
6509A#show ver
Cisco Internetwork Operating System Software
IOS (tm) s72033_rp Software (s72033_rp-PK9SV-M), Version 12.2(17d)SXB11a, RELEASE SOFTWAR (fc1)
ROM: System Bootstrap, Version 12.2(17r)S4, RELEASE SOFTWARE (fc1)
BOOTLDR: s72033_rp Software (s72033_rp-PK9SV-M), Version 12.2(17d)SXB11a, RELEASE SOFTWARE fc1)
System image file is "sup-bootflash:s72033-pk9sv-mz.122-17d.SXB11a.bin"
cisco WS-C6509 (R7000) processor (revision 2.0) with 458752K/65536K bytes of memory.
1917K bytes of non-volatile configuration memory.
8192K bytes of packet buffer memory.
65536K bytes of Flash internal SIMM (Sector size 512K).
Standby has 458752K/65536K bytes of memory.

6509A#show mod
Mod Ports Card Type                              Model              Serial No.
--- ----- -------------------------------------- ------------------ -----------
  1   48  CEF720 48 port 1000mb SFP              WS-X6748-SFP      
  2   48  CEF720 48 port 1000mb SFP              WS-X6748-SFP      
  4   16  16 port 1000mb GBIC ethernet           WS-X6416-GBIC      
  5    2  Supervisor Engine 720 (Hot)            WS-SUP720-3B      
  6    2  Supervisor Engine 720 (Active)         WS-SUP720-3B      
Mod MAC addresses                       Hw    Fw           Sw           Status
--- ---------------------------------- ------ ------------ ------------ -------
  1  0018.7369.c878 to 0018.7369.c8a7   1.7   12.2(14r)S5  12.2(17d)SXB Ok
  2  001f.6cb3.04dc to 001f.6cb3.050b   1.10  12.2(14r)S5  12.2(17d)SXB Ok
  4  000c.850f.95a0 to 000c.850f.95af   2.4   5.4(2)       8.3(0.110)TE Ok
  5  0016.9df6.8e08 to 0016.9df6.8e0b   5.2   8.4(2)       12.2(17d)SXB Ok
  6  0014.a982.3918 to 0014.a982.391b   5.2   8.4(2)       12.2(17d)SXB Ok
  7  0000.0000.0000 to 0000.0000.0000   0.0   12.2(14r)S5  12.2(17d)SXB PwrDown
Mod Sub-Module                  Model              Serial        Hw     Status
--- --------------------------- ------------------ ------------ ------- -------
  1 Centralized Forwarding Card WS-F6700-CFC          2.0    Ok
  2 Centralized Forwarding Card WS-F6700-CFC          4.0    Ok
  5 Policy Feature Card 3       WS-F6K-PFC3B          2.3    Ok
  5 MSFC3 Daughterboard         WS-SUP720             2.5    Ok
  6 Policy Feature Card 3       WS-F6K-PFC3B          2.3    Ok
  6 MSFC3 Daughterboard         WS-SUP720             2.5    Ok

I have two questions:

1) What is the process for me to find the most current "stable" version of IOS code that we could upgrade this system to?   (Obviously, it will have to be loadable given the current Flash and RAM capacity as well.)  I don't just want an image - I need to  know the steps by which this can be determined.

2) This is a dual-core system, each 6509 w/ dual supervisors (as indicated above). Am I correct in that the IOS upgrades can be performed w/o any real downtime on either switch?

Thank you, and reference links/docs are always appreciated.
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1 Solution
Is their old or new equipment on Smartnet, or do you have other means of getting a legal copy of software? you can research software here:

If those switches are redundant, you should be able to take one down while upgrading the other. It's easiest to load the new IOS into both supervisors and then reload the switch. But if that's not an option, you can
1. Load the new software into the active supervisor
2. Switch to the standby supervisor
3. Reload the [previously] active one
4. Load the software into the [currently] active supervisor
5. Switch back to the normally active supervisor
6. Reload the normally standby supervisor

Where it gets tricky is at step 5. The upgrqaded supervisor may not be available as a standby to the other one because they are on different versions of IOS. that's why it's better to just plan for a few minutes of downtime for one switch. when it comes up, do the other one.
you can also use the tools below to decide which software to install, but you need a CCO account to access it:

In general, You will want to go with the latest version of either 12.2(33)SXH or SXI. What feature set you need, you will have to decide. LAN-only doesn't mean it doesn't support routing or other important features; it means that it only support LAN cards. That's what we use in our core switches and in our data center, and it's what you've got in your switches now.

Regarding my comment about steps 5 and 6 above: What is likely to happen is that instead of being a "hot" standby" the upgraded card will be a "cold" standby. this means that it will take over, but it will take more time. Better to just update both sups at once and reload the switch.
cfan73Author Commented:
Thanks for your responses, Mike - yes, I have an CCO partner login, so access to everything. I've used the feature navigator before, but that seems like overkill. Isn't there an easier way to, given the exact image they're currently running, to find a current (and "stable"( version of that code?

I guess that's really my question - I could look at release notes to see what the most current IOS is, but I've run into situations where the latest isn't necessary the recommended...  :)

Thanks again!
Agreed, and I'm running into the same question here. The "k9-mz" code is similar in feature set to what you have right now.

The latest SXH code is s72033-ipservicesk9-mz.12.2-33.SXH8a and the latest SXI is s72033-ipservicesk9-mz.12.2-33.SXI6. I'm still trying to figure out the practical differences between SXH and SXI, but both seem to be OK to use- we've been using SXH for over a year with no problems and recently installed SXI on a few 6500s with no issue so far.

I would stay away from SXJ for now, and I'm staying far away from Modular code of any train.

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