Unsupported Console and SSH on ESXi 4

This will likely not generate as much fanfare as it did for the 3.5 release of ESXi, however I can confirm that it does indeed still work in vSphere ESXi 4. This is the procedure I used to get it up and running on my “Lab” box.

  1. alt-f1 (Note: As pointed out below, you will not see your typing on this screen, just trust us, it is there).
  2. unsupported
  3. root pw
  4. vi /etc/inetd.conf
  5. delete the “#” from ssh
  6. services.sh restart

I’ve also poked around a bit, and found that while scp works, sftp does not. Also note that some commenters had to do the following to get this to work: ps aux |grep inetd (getting the PID) and then kill -HUP PID

68 thoughts on “Unsupported Console and SSH on ESXi 4

  • This does work, thanks.

    But I have found that SCP transfers are excruciatingly slow under ESXi 4, even though I have all gigabit NICs and switches. It appears they are doing some sort of throttling on transfers. At best I am getting about 10MB/s transfers on downloads (to the VM host machine, that is) and horribly slow /unusable speeds of around 1MB/s on uploads (from the VM host machine to other boxes).

    I didn't have these same issues under 3.5 U4. Are you seeing the same problems or hearing any other reports of this? Thanks!

  • I believe that if you use blowfish encryption instead of AES (which is the default) that it will transfer much faster. Try it.


  • Did you find any solution? I am running a Dell server out of the box, installed ESXi 4.0 and it so damned slow 🙁 It has a GBit NIC but transfers are all less than 10MB/s. 🙁

  • This doesn't work for me. Pressing Alt+F1 only shows me the VMWare version (4.0) and the copyright info.
    I cant type diddly at this screen 🙁
    VMWare 4.0/Build 171294

  • James, when you press alt-F1 you will indeed not see that you are typing inything, but in fact you are !
    so hit alt-F1, type “unsupported”, press enter and type in your root password.


  • I am using SunBlade6000 with x6250, and console is a kind of java virtual session. Tried Alt+F1 and blindly typed 'unsupported' and pressed 'ENTER'..nothing happens 🙁

  • I did the steps to uncomment ssh but I still can't connect to ESXi via scp. I get a “connection refused”.

    Help please.

  • I got this to work by issuing a ps aux |grep inetd (getting the PID) and then kill -HUP PID. Restarting the services does not work. In fact it fails to kill the PID, you can see it on the screen. I am able to scp now.

  • Pingback: Unsupported Console and SSH on ESXi 4 – บริษัท อิมพลีเมนเตอร์ จำกัด
  • Thanks for posting – Confirmed, it does work great on esxi 4. I also avoided rebooting or restarting. Just found and killed the inetd process, the restarted it.

    This is just a busybox implementation of linux, so once you have console access there's no reason you couldn't install a package manager and any other kinds of packages you wanted. Seems to me that would largely be a waste, but some scripting tools wouldn't be a bad thing to put in for managing vm's.

  • Thanks..
    i dont know, how to copy my linux application into the unsupported console. Can you please tell. i am unable to mount the floppy drive. Appreciate any help…

  • i able to copy using SCP.. thanks..

    i need to trigger System Management Interrupt(SMI), Is it possible?

  • Hi Guys,

    I have a solution for your SCP woes.

    Just setup an NFS on any linux machine on your network, then mount the NFS share on Esxi,

    Once you have it mounted.

    Ssh to your ESXi host and simply copy to / from the NFS share and your datastore. Both the box's datastore and nfs mount will be sitting under /vmfs/volumes/xxxxxx.

    I have a post on my blog somewhere if you have issues.


  • Gents, I have created the following script to backup vm's to an ftp (or ssh) server. I got close to 300Mbps
    Change it to your requirements, tested on vmware ESX 4.0:
    if [ -z “$1” ]; then
    echo “Usage: $0 vmname”
    exit 1
    # Backup host information
    # Get vm info
    VMID=`vim-cmd /vmsvc/getallvms | grep -v “^Vmid” | grep “$SERVNAME” | awk '{ print $1 }'`
    # $j is now VMID
    VMNAME=`vim-cmd /vmsvc/getallvms | grep -i “^$j ” | awk '{ print $2 }'`
    VMSTAT=`vim-cmd /vmsvc/power.getstate $j | grep Powered | awk '{ print $2 }'`
    VMDATASTORE=`vim-cmd /vmsvc/get.datastores $j | grep url | awk '{ print $2 }'`
    echo “Location: $VMLOCATE”
    echo “Name : $VMNAME”
    VMSTAT=`vim-cmd /vmsvc/power.getstate $j | grep Powered | awk '{ print $2 }'`
    if [ “$VMSTAT” = “off” ]; then
    echo “Server $VMNAME with VMID $j is already powered off”
    echo “Powering off server $VMNAME with ID $j”
    vim-cmd /vmsvc/power.shutdown $j

    echo “Checking status (now $VMSTAT)”
    while [ “$VMSTAT” = “on” ]; do
    echo wait for $VMNAME to shutdown..
    sleep 10
    VMSTAT=`vim-cmd /vmsvc/power.getstate $j | grep Powered | awk '{ print $2 }'`
    # ensure to start vm again when it was running:

    for i in $ALLFILES; do
    echo backup $VMLOCATE/$i to $BACKUPDIR/$VMNAME/$i on $BACKUPHOST

    if [ “$VMSTAT” = “on” ]; then
    # vm was on when we started the backup, now start it again
    vim-cmd /vmsvc/power.on $j



    Spent 2hrs resolving that little beauty….

  • Pingback: How to ssh on ESXi 4 « System Howtos and Tutorials
  • services.sh only affects the services listed in config.db, and inet and ssh aren't listed there on my system.

  • services.sh only affects the services listed in config.db, and inet and ssh aren't listed there on my system.

  • Doin Alt+F1 bings me to a black screen. However everything I write in this just goes in clear text. Am I missing something?

  • For ESXi 4.0 Update 1

    1. alt-f1 (Note: As pointed out below, you will not see your typing on this screen, just trust us, it is there).
    2. unsupported
    3. root pw
    4. vi /etc/inetd.conf
    5. delete the “#” from ssh
    6. press ESC and type in :wq to save the file
    6. services.sh restart

  • I found on my Dell T610 Alt-F1 didnt work, but via the DRAC it worked fine. Maybe its something about the USB keyboard?

  • Hi All,
    Just tried on esxi 4.0 update 1 , log in all OK, but services restart does not seem to work.
    all the services load, but Dropbear / ssh fails to run.
    Attempted the kill -HUP *pid*
    Other than reboot any ideas??

  • Well, just shoot me:
    I have followed all these steps and after using kill -HUP, I can connect via SSH just fine.
    When I re-open the inetd.conf file, the SSH line is still uncommented.

    However, as soon as I reboot the server, in whatever way, the SSH line is commented again and SSH is disabled. I have really tried all options and all order of things, but I can't seem to figure out when the SSH line is commented out again…

    I have killed the inetd and restarted all services after uncommenting the SSH line.
    After that, the SSH line is still uncommented. But after a reboot, it's commented again…

    I would be really grateful for any help.

  • The one thing I'm not finding is any information on enabling password-less SSH for ESXi. I'm currently testing a deployment of openQRM as a management option, but it needs SSH to be configured in a certain way. I've got SSH turned on. That was easy. Just figuring out the password-less part is turning out to be a challenge 🙂

    Any ideas? Thought?

  • Thanx for these simple steps. But on my console i can type unsupported an root-pw as often as i like – there is neither a shell nor vi shows anything?
    When we tried ESXi3.5 we manaeged ssh to work properly.

    any suggestions?

  • A bit belated, but in ESXi 4.1 you can enable SSH through the console without going into support mode – just hit F2 to enter the configuration section, go into the 'technical support' section and enable 'remote technical support'

  • Pingback: SysAdmins Log » ESX Admin From the top — part 2
  • How do you get out of the unsupported console once you have completed this? I am running ESXi 4.0.0. Thanks.

  • on the clientcomputer run ssh-keygen -t rsa

    ssh-keygen is used to generate that key pair for you. Here is a session where your own personal private/public key pair is created:

    cantin@sodium:~> ssh-keygen -t rsa
    Generating public/private rsa key pair.
    Enter file in which to save the key (/home/cantin/.ssh/id_rsa):
    Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
    Enter same passphrase again:
    Your identification has been saved in /home/cantin/.ssh/id_rsa.
    Your public key has been saved in /home/cantin/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
    The key fingerprint is:
    f6:61:a8:27:35:cf:4c:6d:13:22:70:cf:4c:c8:a0:23 cantin@sodium

    scp /home/cantin/.ssh/id_rsa.pub user@esxiserver:/vmfs/volumes/datastore1/authorized_keys

    login to the esxiserver TSM propmt and add to /etc/rc.local

    mkdir /.ssh
    cp /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/authorized_keys /.ssh/
    chmod -R 600 /.ssh

  • I’m using Esxi 4.0.0 Alt+F1 without problems. I can connect ssh to the esxi with no pass (key rsa) and poweroff it. The problem is that esxi erase .ssh directory where the authorized key was. Do you know a way to solve this issue?

  • I can’t seem to get out of unsupported mode no matter what I try; I can ssh so I know my changes to the inetd file are good but how do I get back to the VMware GUI? using ESXi 4.0

  • Wow!  VMWare really did not do anyone any favors with ESXi 4.0.0……………….I was fortunate to find this posting, as I may need to SCP some VM’s in the near future.  We have a single ESXi box and getting ready to add a 2nd (Will be 4.1 U1); pretty much standalone (free) though I yearn for a V-Center style of management.  This post “MADE MY DAY!”  I can now WinSCP – I did have to do the ps aux |grep inetd to get the PID, then kill it manually, but SCP now working so no complaints.  Cheers to ya!

  • Any idea why SSH would be so slow under ESXi? It takes me about 1 minute to login via SSH, which most SSH clients interpret as an unresponsive server.

  • 4. I found I could shave off a few seconds by appending -m to the dropbear command in  /etc/inetd.conf, disabling that huge login banner, but it still takes between 20-30 seconds to log me in.

  • Pingback: Enabling SNMP in ESXi 4.1 using the Remote CLI : rSartorio

Comments are closed.