I'm having the strangest problems with an ESXi 5.5 server. Due to problems getting it added into vSphere, I need to log into the console to do some troubleshooting. I can log into the menu system directly on the server, and also the Windows vSphere client works fine.

From the "direct" console (Alt+F1), I can't log in as root:

enter image description here

Enabling SSH from the vSphere client and then using SSH is even weirder:

$ ssh root@
CentOS release 6.5 (Final)
Kernel \r on an \m


CentOS?!? My root password, which works OK to authenticate both to the direct menu and the Windows vSphere client, doesn't work.

There are three CentOS VM's running on this server, but they're not on that IP. I've checked ARP to make sure I'm hitting the correct physical address: I've verified that the IP is really VMWare by:

$ telnet 902
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
220 VMware Authentication Daemon Version 1.10: SSL Required, ServerDaemonProtocol:SOAP, MKSDisplayProtocol:VNC , VMXARGS supported, NFCSSL supported

If I disable SSH using the vSphere client:

$ ssh root@
ssh: connect to host port 22: Connection refused

So I'm baffled as to what's going on here. Why does ESXi think it's CentOS, and why can't I log into the console directly?

  • Can you describe the problems you're trying to troubleshoot is vSphere? Also, what are the hardware and networking details? – ewwhite Sep 22 '15 at 12:17
  • Problem is pretty much as described here: kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/… - I can't (re)add the VMHost into vCentre. This is running on an HP ProLiant 360 (Gen8), with one physical NIC connected and one virtual NIC per VM. – KenD Sep 22 '15 at 12:41

The VMWare Esxi server is a utility running on Centos 6.5. That's why it allows you to ssh on the server itself. Hence the reason you get the prompt when you login.

The messages that you get "/bin/bash: No such file or directory" is critical and indicates a problem with the filesystem on the host. However, since it is a minimalistic OS, not all operations are available and you have limited troubleshooting options.

If you are running the Esxi server on a VM, make sure all the mapped drives or partitions are fine and perform a filesystem check if you can, but in order to do that you need to enable SSH access on the Esxi host, remote login and perform troubleshooting on the OS. Another solution would be to replicate your data from the Esxi server and migrate it to another disk or physical server.

This might help to perform file system check on the Esxi host: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2004299

  • Strange, I don't see the CentOS prompt when SSH'ing into other ESXi servers - is this something new or specific to a certain version (the box in question is running ESXi 5.5)? – KenD Sep 22 '15 at 12:43

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