An ESXi system includes a Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) that you can use to start and stop the system and to perform a limited set of maintenance and troubleshooting tasks.

You can use the direct console to access the ESXi Shell, which is disabled by default. You can enable the ESXi Shell in the direct console or by using the vSphere Web Client. You can enable local shell access or remote shell access.

With local shell access, you can log in to the shell directly from the Direct Console. See Enabling Local ESXi Shell Access.

With remote shell (SSH) access you can connect to the host by using a shell such as PuTTY, specify a user name and password, and run commands in the shell. See Remote ESXi Shell Access with SSH.

The ESXi Shell includes all ESXCLI commands, a set of deprecated esxcfg- commands, and a set of commands for troubleshooting and remediation.


All ESXCLI commands that are available in the ESXi Shell are also included in the vCLI package.

You can install the vCLI package on a supported Windows or Linux system or deploy the vMA virtual appliance, and run commands against your ESXi hosts. Run commands in the ESXi Shell directly or through SSH only in troubleshooting situations.