ESXi Shell Access with the Direct Console
An ESXi system includes a direct console (also called DCUI) that allows you to start and stop the system and to perform a limited set of maintenance and troubleshooting tasks. The direct console includes the ESXi Shell, which is disabled by default. You can enable the ESXi Shell in the direct console or by using the vSphere Client. You can enable local shell access or remote shell access:
The ESXi Shell includes all ESXCLI commands, a set of deprecated esxcfg- commands, and a set of commands for troubleshooting and remediation.
Enabling Local ESXi Shell Access
You can enable the ESXi Shell from the direct console or from the vSphere Client.
If you have access to the direct console, you can enable the ESXi Shell from there.
To enable the ESXi Shell in the direct console
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Scroll to Troubleshooting Options and press Enter.
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Choose Enable ESXi Shell and press Enter.
On the left, Enable ESXi Shell changes to Disable ESXi Shell. On the right, ESXi Shell is Disabled changes to ESXi Shell is Enabled.
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If you do not have access to the direct console, you can enable the ESXi Shell from the vSphere Client.
To enable the local or remote ESXi Shell from the vSphere Client
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Select the host, click the Configuration tab, and click Security Profile in the Software panel.
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Select ESXi Shell and click Options.
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To change the Startup policy across reboots, click Start and stop with host and reboot the host.
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Click OK.
After you have enabled the ESXi Shell, you can use it from that monitor or through a serial port.
The ESXi Shell timeout setting specifies how long you can leave an unused session open. By default, the timeout for the ESXi Shell is 0, which means the session remains open even if it is unused. If you change the timeout, for example, to 30 minutes, you have to log in again after the timeout period has elapsed.
You can modify the timeout from the Direct Console (in seconds) or from the vSphere Client (in minutes).
To modify the ESXi Shell Timeout
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Select Modify ESXi Shell timeout and press Enter.
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Locate UserVars.ESXiShellTimeOut and enter the timeout value in minutes.
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Using the Local ESXi Shell
After you enable the ESXi Shell in the direct console, you can use it from main direct console screen or remotely through a serial port.
To use the local ESXi Shell
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When you type the password, characters are not displayed on the console.
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To log out, type exit in the shell.
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See vSphere Installation and Setup documentation for information on serial port setup.