Access the ESXi Service Console

Here is a brief write-up on how to access the Service Console of VMware ESXi. As a disclaimer, this should only be done under the direct supervision of a VMware Support Engineer.

  1. From the ESXi console summary screen hit ALT-F1.
  2. Enter the word “unsupported” (without quotes).
  3. Enter in the root password for your system.
  4. Be careful

Now edit the inetd.conf file to enable remote SSH into this console;

  1. Edit /etc/inetd.conf (vi /etc/inetd.conf).
  2. Remove the # sign in front of the SSH line.
  3. Kill and restart the inetd process.
    1.) ps -ef |grep inetd
    2.) kill -HUP <pid>
    # pid is the Process ID, the first number displayed from ps -ef
  4. SSH into the IP of your ESXi server, using your root login/password.

Created on October 20, 2008 by Rick Scherer

Posted under ESXi 3.5 Tips, VMware.

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5 Comments so far

  1. Dwight Wilbanks
    2:37 pm on April 7th, 2009


    The system boots up with an invalid IP address or and won’t grab a DHCP address, so, I have to “magically know” how to enter into unsupported mode?


    It is my belief that setting the IP address either by entering it in or the system grabbing a DHCP address is somewhat standard and should not include some unsupported anything.


  2. Rick Scherer
    2:49 pm on April 7th, 2009

    Dwight, you can changed your management network IP address from the ESXi TUI – entering unsupported CLI mode is not necessary.

  3. Dwight Wilbanks
    5:37 pm on April 7th, 2009

    My guess is that there might have been problems identifying the ethernet, but, instead of telling me there was no valid ethernet is acts like there is ethernet , but, it can’t control them through the UI.

  4. Aaron Mason
    4:20 pm on May 26th, 2009


    I had the same problem. Not being able to change it (all attempts just kept asking me to reset the network to the default settings) I assumed it couldn’t detect the onboard NIC.

    Doing this would hopefully allow me to work out why my card isn’t supported.

  5. Doug
    4:58 pm on February 22nd, 2010

    I think what R S was saying was that you can administer the network config of the ESXi host using the EXTREMELY limited UI that appears on the console. Press F2 to change settings. I’m pretty sure this includes the management network config.


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