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How To Enable SSH on VMware ESXi 5 / 5.5 / 6 & All Other Versions

Many necessary administrative functions on ESXi requires SSH access. For example, offline bundles, third party management utilities, backup utilities, and many other tasks require you to log in to the ESXi console, via SSH or physically. This post will guide you through the process of enabling the SSH service, and opening up the firewall to allow access. This process works on all versions of ESXi, including the newer versions such as 5, 5.5, and 6. Lets get started.

Enabling SSH on an ESXi host

There are two steps involved in getting SSH access set up on an ESXi host.

  • Enabling the SSH service
  • Opening port 22 (SSH port) on the firewall

First, log into the VMware vSphere Client. You can login directory to the host, or to a vSphere server, it doesn’t matter. Select the host in the left panel, then navigate to Configuration > Security Profile, once you are there, click on the Properties option to the right of Services.

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Now, select SSH, then Options.

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Select “Start and stop with host,” then click Start. Click OK, and OK again.

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Next, select firewall properties by clicking on Properties, to the right of Firewall (also located in Configuration > Security Profile).

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Select SSH Server, then Firewall.

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Here, you can either select “Allow connections from any IP address,” or, you can select “Only allow connections from the following networks” and enter an IP address or subnet. You can enter multiple IP addresses and subnets, separated with a comma. After making your selection, click OK, and OK again.

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SSH is now enabled on your ESXi host. You can open up Putty, Terminal, or your favorite SSH client and connect using the same credentials you use to connect to the vSphere Client.

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If you run into any problems, feel free to ask for help in the comments below. If you want to enable SNMP for remote monitoring, check out my post on enabling SNMP on ESXi 5 / 5.5 / 6. Thanks!