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Using ESXi Shell in ESXi 5.x

Purpose

This article provides guidance on the recommended use of ESXi Shell for VMware ESXi 5.x.

Resolution

The ESXi Shell (formerly known as Tech Support Mode) provides essential maintenance commands. It can be used in exceptional cases that cannot be handled through standard remote management or CLI tools. The ESXi Shell is primarily intended for use in break-fix scenarios.

Enabling ESXi Shell access with the vSphere Client

Use the vSphere Client to enable local and remote access to the ESXi Shell:

  1. Log in to a vCenter Server system using the vSphere Client.
  2. Select the host in the inventory panel.
  3. Click the Configuration tab and click Security Profile.
  4. In the Services section, click Properties.
  5. Select ESXi Shell from this list:

    ESXi Shell
    SSH
    Direct Console UI

  6. Click Options and select Start and stop manually.

    Note: When you select Start and stop manually, the service does not start when you reboot the host. If you want the service to start when you reboot the host, select Start and stop with host.

  7. Select Start to enable the service.
  8. Click OK.

Enabling ESXi Shell Access with the Direct Console User Interface

Use the direct console user interface to enable the ESXi Shell:

  1. From the direct console user interface, press F2 to access the System Customization menu.
  2. Select Troubleshooting Options and press Enter.
  3. From this Troubleshooting Mode Options menu, select Enable ESXi Shell.

    Enable ESXi Shell
    Enable SSH

  4. Press Enter to enable the service.

Configuring the timeout for the ESXi Shell

By default, the timeout setting for the ESXi Shell is 0 (disabled). The timeout setting is the number of minutes that can elapse before you must log in after the ESXi Shell is enabled. After the timeout period, if you have not logged in, the shell is disabled.

Note: If you are logged in when the timeout period elapses, your session persists. However, the ESXi Shell is disabled and it prevents other users from logging in.

  • To set the ESXi Shell timeout from the Direct Console User Interface: 

    1. From the direct console user interface, press F2 to access the System Customization menu.
    2. Click Troubleshooting Mode Options.
    3. Modify ESXi Shell and SSH timeouts and press Enter.
    4. Enter the timeout in minutes.
    5. Press Enter.
    6. Press Esc until you return to the main menu of the Direct Console User Interface

  • To set the ESXi Shell timeout from vSphere Client: 

    1. Log in to a vCenter Server system using the vSphere Client.
    2. Select the host in the inventory panel and click Configuration tab.
    3. Under Software, select Advanced Settings.
    4. In the left panel, select UserVars.
    5. In the UserVars.ESXiShellTimeOut field, enter the timeout setting.
    6. Click OK.

Note: If ESXi Shell and SSH are enabled, the option to modify the timeout value is grayed out. To change the timeout value, ensure both ESXi Shell and SSH are disabled. This is by design and is intended to indicate when the timeout values would take effect.

Accessing the local ESXi Shell

  1. If you have direct access to the host, press Alt+F1 to open the log in page on the machine's physical console.
  2. Provide credentials when prompted.

Accessing the remote TSM

  1. Open an SSH client.
  2. Specify the IP address or domain name of the ESX host.

    Notes:

    • Directions may vary depending on what SSH client you are using. For more information, consult vendor documentation and support.
    • By default, SSH works on TCP port 22. 

  3. Provide credentials when prompted.
Based on VMware KB 2004746

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