SSH remote console to ESXi server

Written by Sam McGeown
Published on 13/12/2008 - Read in about 2 min (343 words)


Having recently installed an ESXi server, I am getting to grips with the management and administration of it, one of the things that I wanted to be able to do was connect to the remote terminal through SSH.

I downloaded my SSH client of choice, PuTTY, and set about connecting, however the server refused the connection. It seems that SSH is not enabled out of the box for ESXi and you need to go through some steps to get there - I found some helpful hints here.These are the steps that I took, based on the advice and some other research.

Go to the ESXi server console screen and hit “Alt+F1”. This will switch you to a screen that looks like a log.

Type “unsupported” - you won’t see it enter on the screen, just type it blind, followed by the enter key.

You’ll see a nice warning, followed by a prompt for the root password. Type your root password and you’ll now be at the comand prompt.

Now to edit the inetd.conf. Type “vi /etc/inetd.conf” which will open the conf file in the VI editor. If you’re a Windows admin VI will seem a bit strange…just follow the instructions and you’ll be ok!

Type “/ssh” to find the line responsible for the SSH config.

Move the cursor using the arrow keys over the # symbol at the beginning of the line, and then press “x” to delete it.

Now type “:wq!” to save the file and quit VI.

Back at the command prompt you can type “/sbin/ restart” to restart the management services.

Next if your server is not running any VMs you can just restart it…if not you will need to identify the process ID for inetd.

Type “ps | grep inetd” which returns the process ID

Type “kill -HUP ” with the process ID you’ve just identified.

Type “exit” to log out of that console, and do another “Alt+F1” to switch back to the ESXi home screen.

Back on your SSH client you should be able to log in successfully.

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