How to Enable ESXi Shell Remotely

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It's a good security best practice to control when access is granted to for the command line on the direct console user interface (DCUI). I have tested the instructions below on vSphere 5.5, as a way to enable/disable access to the ESXi shell from within vSphere.


How to Enable ESXi Shell


From within vSphere Web Client:

  • Click Hosts and Clusters.

  • Select the Host from the list that you wish to grant ESXi access.

  • Click Manage tab.

  • Click Settings tab from within the Manage tab.

  • Go under System in the drop-down menu and select Security Profile.

  • Click Edit in the lower right where the Services panel is.

  • There are three options here:

    • ESXi shell

    • Direct Console UI

    • SSH

  • Start/Stop the ESXi Shell as needed.


From within vSphere Windows Client:

  • Click Hosts and Clusters.

  • Select the Host from the list that you wish to grant ESXi access.

  • Go to the Configuration tab.

  • On the Software menu to the left, select Security Profile.

  • On the Services panel at the top, select Properties in the upper right.

  • Scroll down to ESXi Shell and click the Options button found in the lower right.

  • Click Start. ESXi shell access will be available immediately and there will be a triangle with an exclamation point next to the host. Later going here and clicking Stop will set it back and remove the triangle notification next to the host.


On the DCUI:

  • Press F2 and enter the root password.

  • Go to Troubleshooting Options and press enter.

  • Select Enable ESXi Shell and press enter.

  • Look to the right to see the status: If it shows Enabled on the right then it’s enabled.

  • Press Esc until you return to the main direct console screen.

  • Press Alt-F1 to open a virtual console window to the host.

  • Type exit followed by the enter key once or twice as needed to exit the shell.

  • Press Alt-F2 to return to the direct console.

  • Afterward, return to the vSphere Web Client and Stop the ESXi Shell.

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