12 Replies Latest reply on Feb 11, 2012 1:14 PM by pi3141

    How to access ESX service console

    pi3141 Novice

      Hi all.

      I am a TV engineer trying to solve a network issue with our equipment. I am not a network engineer.


      I am trying to follow the VMWareKB: 'Troubleshooting network connection issues using Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)' I simply trying to verify the ARP table exists on our ESX server and has some entries.


      The KB says to run 'arp -a' to list the ARP table.


      To do this I need to open a service console. I have now read 3 or 4 articles on using the Service Console but I still am unable to open it to run the command! I cannot understand what I am doing wrong, either I am incredibly stupid or I am missing something completely.


      One article stated, press 'Alt F1' Exactly where do I do this? From a virtual machine connected to the ESX? One article said 'at the VIM summary screen' I've tried logging onto the virtual machine and pointing a web browser at the server, I get an ESX welcome screen with 'Login To Web Access' link, when I click this I get 'Internet Explorer Can't Open The Webpage'


      I've had a look at the VIM, I can see the network details for Vswitch on the configuration page including the service console IP address. Can't see how to open a service console. Pointing the VIM at the service console address fails to do anything.


      I just need to know how to open the Service console and check the ARP tables as per the KB.


      Please dumb down your answers for me!



      The root problem is regarding some mains distribution units we are using to power equipment in racks. They have a network connection which we are monitoring using Virtual Machines to report to a third party monitoring and control software. The Virtual Machines are running alarm driver software used to report to the third party. The VM's are on a Blade Server.


      We have an issue where one MDU unit was replaced but configured with incorrect Default Gateway address. Within hours of doing this, the monitoring and control software lost connection to the MDU's and one by one, all the MDU units started sending ARP requests - "Who has'


      Eventually, all MDU's are constantly sending ARP requests and all MDU's have lost connectivity to the VM. If we open the VM machine doing the monitoring and ping an MDU, the ping fails, if we put a laptop in place of an MDU and ping the VM machine, the ping works fine.


      If we power off/on the MDU's they come good, but we are a 24/7 operation and power cycling all MDU's is considered to risky.


      We had this problem before and the only solution was to rebuild the VM's and assign all MDU's to a new network addresses.


      All switches the MDU's are plugged into (Foundry Falstron GS) have been checked by our network support guys and we're told are all good. The Blade server is hosting about 20 VM's and they are working fine monitoring SNMP traffic from other systems.


      If anyone has any ideas I'm all ears.

        • 1. Re: How to access ESX service console
          Josh26 Master



          What version of ESX/ESXi are you running?


          The answer varies - ESXi doesn't actually have a service console, but we can get you the right steps if you can confirm.

          • 2. Re: How to access ESX service console
            pi3141 Novice



            thanks for responding.


            Checking the VIM, we have ESX Server 3.0.1,32039


            I basically just want to get on and check the ARP tables, it may be nothing to do with the problem, its frustrating not being able to follow the KB and check to rule it out.

            • 3. Re: How to access ESX service console
              Josh26 Master

              Wow that's an old version.


              The options I would recommend are to SSH to the server using putty (free download, google it) or to do it from the console.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: How to access ESX service console
                pi3141 Novice



                I've stumbled across someones guide that say's they use putty. Do I install putty on a vm machine?


                How would I do it from the console?

                • 5. Re: How to access ESX service console
                  Dave.Mishchenko Guru

                  Your post has been moved to the ESX 3.0 forum - http://communities.vmware.com/community/vmtn/server/vi/install.


                  When something refers to the ESX console, you can use SSH as mentioned or press ALT+f1 at the console of the host.

                  • 6. Re: How to access ESX service console
                    Dave.Mishchenko Guru

                    You would run putty from a workstation (VM or physical) and conect to the management IP for ESXi.


                    If you're using the root login and get an error using SSH, then SSH access has been disbaled for that login.  You can try another account with SSH access and then run su - in the SSH session to switch to the root account.

                    • 7. Re: How to access ESX service console
                      pi3141 Novice
                      Thanks for the reply, I don't want to sound thick, but I still don't get it.
                      Where is 'the console' ?
                      Is it the VIM?
                      Do I need to be in maintenance mode? Logged on as a special user on the VIM? We have esxuser and root, both have admin rights from what I see. Do I open a windows command prompt first? Do I need to be on a particular tab - summary or configuration where I see the vSwitch details?
                      Or is the console the VM machine listed in the VIM
                      Do I need to select the VM listed on the left of the VIM and select the console tab so I see the VM OS?
                      I've read an article 'Five Ways to Administer a VMware ESX Server ' It says to press Alt F1 at the console.
                      I've read other articles that say the same thing - but I can't get it to work!!
                      I'm using a PC with the VIM installed on it and the Virtual Machines are on a Blade Server in our apps room. Do I need to be physically physically connected to the Blade Server?
                      Can the command prompt be disabled so Alt F1 won't work?
                      This is just so frustrating, either I am missing something or something isn't working.
                      • 8. Re: How to access ESX service console
                        Dave.Mishchenko Guru

                        When the KB article refers to the service console, it is referring to the ESX host and not the VM.  When you're at the host, you press ALT+F1 to get a login screen and you then essentially have a command prompt to run your commands.


                        If you can't get to the host physically or via remote KVM, that is when you can also use SSH and you would connect to the ESX host IP (and not to a VM IP).

                        1 person found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: How to access ESX service console
                          NickMarshall9 Enthusiast
                          vExpertVMware Employees



                          As stated, the console is the administrative interface that you can use directly on the hardware. It's not a VM (as such) that you log into with the standard management GUI. You can SSH into it over the network or you can be "physically connected" as you say (I would use HP SIM or ILO to connect directly to that blade). Once you have that screen up, press "Alt+F1" and login. You should then be able to follow the KB to check the ARP table.



                          • 10. Re: How to access ESX service console
                            pi3141 Novice
                            Thanks guys.
                            I'm with you now. :-)
                            The Virtual Infrastructure Manager has got nothing to do with this. We're running the VIM on a general PC that we use to reboot and check Virtual Machines. 
                            But I can run Putty or SSH on that general PC to get on the ESX Host interface.
                            Alt F1 is when your physically on the ESX hardware. We've got HP Insight for the Blade server on the KVM, so thats where I can use Alt F1.
                            • 11. Re: How to access ESX service console
                              pi3141 Novice

                              Thank you to everyone.


                              Putty worked for me in the end.


                              arp-a listed about 6 entries, the default gateway, another router and several vacant IP's, it didn't list a single MDU IP address.


                              I pinged the broadcast address and only got about 15 to 20 replies from MDU's from a network of 300 MDU's!


                              After about 10 minutes it seems the router lost those as arp -a was only listing the first group of a few IP's again.


                              I'm a bit out of my depth as you can probably tell, so I explained what I had found to one of our specialists, might be helpful as another a avenue of investigation as the problem is still unresolved.


                              Thanks again everyone, I managed to achieve what I set out to do, although I don't understand what I've done.



                              Can anyone tell me if what I found was normal? Should I have seen all the MDU IP addresses? How long generally before the arp table ages out? Does this  behavior suggest a problem? 

                              • 12. Re: How to access ESX service console
                                pi3141 Novice

                                Can't see how to update the status on this - looked a couple of times.


                                Logging on problem is solved though.