Enable SSH Access to VMware vSphere ESX


KB ID 0000299 


Should you wish to get SSH (remote secure console) access to your ESX  hosts, you need to do the following;

ESX Version 6.5 and Newer

ESX version 5 and Newer

ESX version 4.1.0

ESX version 4.0.0 and earlier

ESX version 4.0.0 and earlier


Grant SSH Access to ESX 6.5

If you have a stand-alone ESX Server running version 6.5, it’s a lot easier to to enable ESX access. Select ‘Host’ > Actions > Service > Enable Secure Shell (SSH). Note: You can also enable the direct console access here.

Enable SSH on ESX 6.5

IF you want to enable SSH on an ESX host through the vCenter Web client then, from the ‘hosts and datacenters’ view > Select the Host  > Configure > Security Profile > Scroll down to ‘Services’ > Edit.

vCenter 6 enable SSH on host

Locate ‘SSH > Start > OK.

Enable SSH ESX 6.5

Once enabled you will see the following warning on the hosts summary page, however, in version 6.5 you can suppress this error.

SSH for this host has ben enabled

Grant SSH Access to ESX 5

ESX 5 has a built in firewall, which can have SSH opened in the VI clients, or just as with version 4.1.0 you can enable SSH Locally from the console from troubleshooting options.

Enable Remotely

1. Log into the host with the VI client > Select the host > Configuration > Security Profile > Properties.

enable ssh remotely

2. Locate SSH Server > Tick it > Options > You can either manually start it or set it to start automatically.

enable ssh remotely

3. You will see the following warning to “retrieve” the firewall settings (because you have just changed them) > Select Yes.

enable ssh remotely

Note: Having it running will still cause the “Configuration Issues – SSH for the host has been enabled” nag screen on the summary tab of the host.

enable ssh remotely

Grant SSH Access to ESXi 4.0.1

Starting with version 4.0.1 you can enable SSH access from the server console.

1. Go to the normal ESX console > Press F2 > Log in >Troubleshooting Options.

enable in esx

2. Select “Enable Remote Tech support” toggle on and off with {enter} if you want to SSH in the server remotely using PuTTy for example > If you want to log on directly at the console choose “Enable Local Tech Support”.

enable in esx

3. Note: Having it running will still cause the “Configuration Issues – Remote Tech support Mode (SSH) for the host {hostname} has been enabled” nag screen on the summary tab of the host.

enable in esx

Grant SSH Access to ESX 4.0.0 and earlier

1. Go to the normal ESXi console.

ESX Enble SSH Access

2. Press ALT+F1 > the screen will change > Type unsupported {enter} > Note: Nothing will appear on the screen till you hit {enter} > Type in the root password and press {enter}.

ESX Enble SSH Access

3. You now need to edit a config file, the only editor we have is vi (sorry) issue the following command,

vi /etc/inetd.conf

ESX Enble SSH Access

4. The vi editor will open the file, use the arrow keys to move down to the line that says,

#ssh stream tcp nowait root…

Press I on the keyboard (that puts the vi editor into insert mode) and delete the hash “#” mark from the beginning of the line.

ESX Enble SSH Access

5 Then, to save the changes press {Esc} > type in :wq {Enter} (that’s write the changes and quit if your interested).

ESX Enble SSH Access

6. Enter the following command;

cat /var/run/inetd.pid

It will provide you with a number, (in the example below its 4983, yours will be different).

ESX Enble SSH Access

7. Issue the following command;

kill -HUP {the number you got from above}

ESX Enble SSH Access

8. To get back to the usual ESXi screen and exit command line press ALT+F2.

ESX Enble SSH Access

9. You can now connect with an SSH client like Putty.


Related Articles, References, Credits, or External Links

Original Article written: 07/12/11

ESX4 – Grant Root User SSH Access

Thanks to Dave Corrasa for the feedback.

Author: Migrated

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