Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I want to enable SSH on VMware ESXi 4.0 (free version). We don't have a console server connected to that host.

Is there any way I can enable SSH without visiting the data center? Their knowledge base seems to indicate this is not possible.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Did you try to revert to evaluation mode, enable remote SSH tech support and then back to your free license?

Using the evaluation mode is great, it allows you to use some of the enterprise features for up to 60 (completely individual) days! :)

share|improve this answer
I had no idea that was possible. Will give it a try! – Mike Bailey Mar 17 '11 at 13:04
It's telling me evaluation mode has expired. Sounds like it's worth entering your free license key as soon as you install ESXi to preserve the evaluation mode days for when you may need them. – Mike Bailey Mar 17 '11 at 15:30

Sure, if you can reach the server via vSphere client, you can go into settings, security profile, and start the SSH service. That's all there is to it.

share|improve this answer
The only options displayed on our ESXi 4.0 are : * VMware vCenter Agent * NTP Daemon – Mike Bailey Mar 17 '11 at 5:13
Hrmmm... perhaps this option only lights up after the host is being managed by vCenter or something. We typically turn on SSH immediately so we can verify some of the vSwitches are getting the right MTUs. I'll check in the morning. – SpacemanSpiff Mar 17 '11 at 5:21

well... you should be able to enable SSH via vSphere in ESXI 4.0

  • Go to Configuration tab
  • Click on the left on Advanced Settings
  • Click on the left on VMkernel
  • Search for VMkernel.Boot.techSupportMode, enable it.
  • Restart the server

According to the theory, that should enable the SSH...

share|improve this answer

Can you not get "intelligent hands" at the DC to do it for you, directed by you?

share|improve this answer
Great idea but it's an unmanned DC. :-( – Mike Bailey Mar 17 '11 at 13:02

Yes, SSH access of ESXi is unsupported, but very useful on some circumstances. It needs to access the physical console of the server to enable it. But it doesn't mean you need to travel there. Some servers has a web based management interface what provides access to the physical console of the server (iLO on HP servers, DRAC on DELL servers). But cheaper server's doesn't have. In that case, the datacenter's has the feature to provide access with IP based console. You should ask a time window and access from the provider to their IP console, and you can access the console of your server with it. I used it many times, they used to give this free.

share|improve this answer
You don't need access to the console to enable it, it can be enabled in Configuration -> Security profile -> Services -> Properties – 3molo May 13 '11 at 7:30

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.