Enable SSH Access to VMware ESX Hosts

Completely unsupported and an easy way to pooch your server and its VMs without even trying, possibly getting yourself fired in the process, it is nevertheless desirable to be able to SSH to your VMware ESX/ESXi hosts. This dangerous feature is disabled by default, but her’s how you can enable it:

  1. Go to the ESXi console and press Alt+F1
  2. Type: “unsupported” (Note: there is no prompt for this, just type and hit ENTER)
  3. Enter the root password and hit ENTER
  4. At the prompt type “vi /etc/inetd.conf”
  5. Find the line that starts with “#ssh” and delete the leading “#” (use “x”)
  6. Save by typing “ZZ”
  7. Do a “ps | grep inetd” and make note of the inetd process id (first number)
  8. Issue “kill -HUP <pid>” where “<pid>” is the inetd process id from above to restart the management services (or reboot if that’s an option)
  9. Enjoy your new SSH capabilities

These instructions were shamelessly stolen from this famous article, but updated because their restart command didn’t work for me.