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How to configure ssh and shell access on Esxi host


In this article we will discuss how to configure ssh and shell access on an esxi host. Before performing steps we will talk about what is ssh. SSH, which stands for Secure Shell, is a network protocol that facilitates secure communication and remote access to a computer or server over an unsecured network. It provides a secure channel over an insecure network, allowing users to access and manage remote systems securely.

SSH employs strong encryption algorithms to secure the communication between the client and the server, protecting the confidentiality and integrity of the data being transmitted.

SSH supports various authentication methods, including password-based authentication, public key authentication, and other multifactor authentication mechanisms, ensuring secure user authentication during the connection setup.

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SSH allows users to access and manage remote systems, including servers, network devices, and other computing resources, through a secure and encrypted channel.

What is ssh and shell in esxi?

In ESXi, SSH allows administrators to securely access the command-line interface of the hypervisor from a remote system, providing a means to execute commands and perform administrative tasks.

Shell access refers to the direct access to the command-line interface (CLI) of the ESXi hypervisor.

It allows administrators to interact with the underlying operating system of the ESXi host, execute commands, perform system configurations, and manage the hypervisor directly through a text-based interface.

Use cases for shell access on ESXi

Shell access on ESXi, facilitated through the ESXi Shell or SSH, offers various use cases for administrators and IT professionals, providing direct access to the underlying hypervisor for advanced management, troubleshooting, and customization. Here are some common use cases for shell access on ESXi:

Configuration and Maintenance:

Administrators can use shell access to perform advanced configuration tasks, such as modifying network settings, managing storage, configuring virtual switches, and fine-tuning system parameters.

Scripting and Automation:

Shell access enables the execution of scripts and automation tools, allowing administrators to automate routine tasks, create custom management scripts, and deploy configuration changes across multiple ESXi hosts.

Monitoring and Diagnostics:

Administrators can use the shell to monitor system performance, check hardware status, review system logs, and diagnose issues that may not be readily accessible through the vSphere Client or other management interfaces.

Security and Compliance:

Shell access can be used to audit and enforce security measures, apply compliance configurations, and perform security-related tasks to maintain the integrity and security of the ESXi environment.

Performance Optimization:

By accessing the shell, administrators can analyze system resource usage, identify performance bottlenecks, and optimize resource allocation to enhance the overall performance of virtualized workloads.

Emergency Recovery and Repair:

In the event of critical system issues, shell access allows administrators to perform emergency recovery procedures, repair corrupted configurations, and restore system functionality when other management interfaces are unavailable.

Troubleshooting and Debugging:

The shell provides a direct interface for troubleshooting and debugging issues, allowing administrators to access system information, run diagnostic commands, and investigate complex problems affecting the hypervisor or virtual machines.

Enabling SSH and Shell Access through the vSphere Web Client

Log in to the vSphere Web Client

Access the vSphere Web Client by entering the IP address or hostname of the ESXi host in a web browser and logging in with appropriate credentials.

Navigate to the Host:

Select the ESXi host from the inventory view in the vSphere Web Client.

Access the Configuration Tab:

Click on the “Configure” tab to access the configuration settings for the selected ESXi host.

Security Profile Settings:

Under the “System” section, select “Security Profile” to view the security profile settings for the ESXi host.

Edit Services:

Click “Edit” in the Services section to modify the services running on the ESXi host.

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Enable SSH:

Check the “SSH” service to enable SSH access to the ESXi host. Optionally, you can also enable the ESXi Shell service for direct access to the command line interface.

Save Settings:

Click “OK” to save the changes and enable SSH and/or ESXi Shell access.

Method 2.

Enabling SSH and Shell Access through the ESXi Host Directly

Access the ESXi Host Console:

Log in to the ESXi host using the vSphere Client or by directly accessing the host’s console.

Navigate to Configuration Settings:

Press F2 to access the System Customization menu. Enter the root credentials when prompted.

Enable SSH:

Select Troubleshooting Options and then Enable SSH to enable SSH access to the ESXi host.

Enable ESXi Shell:

Optionally, you can also select Enable ESXi Shell to allow direct access to the command line interface.

Confirm Changes:

Press Enter to confirm the changes and enable SSH and/or ESXi Shell access.

Accessing the ESXi Host via SSH

SSH Client:

Use an SSH client (such as PuTTY for Windows or Terminal for macOS and Linux) to connect to the ESXi host using its IP address or hostname.

Enter Credentials:

Log in with the root credentials of the ESXi host when prompted.

Manage ESXi Host:

Once connected, you can manage the ESXi host and perform administrative tasks through the SSH session.

Change Hostname through DCUI command

We can also change the Esxi hostname through DCUI command. Login to Esxi through putty, After login type DCUI command in terminal.

Once this screen is open, press F2 from keyboard to customize the Esxi settings. It will ask for the password before going to settings. After successful login the below screen will appear. Click on the configure Management Network settings.

Click on the DNS configuration settings and select hostname. type your desire hostname, press enter to save the setting. after setting the hostname name, press Esc button to exit from the menu. Restart the Esxi to implement the setting.

By following these steps, you can configure SSH and shell access on an ESXi host, allowing for remote management and direct access to the command line interface for administrative tasks. Remember to exercise caution when enabling SSH and ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to protect access to the ESXi host.

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