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We would like to provide console only access to certain machines hosted on vSphere, as if they were sitting in front of a physical machine. How would one set the permissions to achieve this goal with the full vSphere client? Is there a lightweight console-only client available? I imagine the permissions would have to be addressed no matter which client was used.

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You can use vmware-player or workstation as client for vsphere - it provides only console access.

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Though possible, they seem like heavy solutions and I imagine the permissions would still need to be worked out. - I've edited my query to reflect these observations. – Nathan Hartley May 18 '12 at 15:41

Check out the VMWare Guest Console from VMWare Labs

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Not sure why I've only now found this answer. I will definitely have to check this out. If it works as they say, I would hope that it becomes more serious than a "fling". – Nathan Hartley Oct 20 '12 at 4:48

As for how to grant them console access, there's a role permission at "Virtual machine|Interaction|Console interaction" that you could grant (after creating a custom role for that permission) to your users on the specific virtual machines. After launching the VM client and connecting to the appropriate host or vcenter they could then have console access to the virtual machines you've assigned the custom role to.

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Thank you. Between this and the Guest Console we should be all set. I will share these answers with our VMWare Admin next week. – Nathan Hartley Oct 20 '12 at 5:38

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