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putty Network Error-Connection Refused

VMware ESXi, 6.5.0, 11925212

PuTTY Release 0.70

When attempting to connect to various ESXi 6.5 hosts receiving message: Network error: Connection refused. This is recent behavior, previously successful connecting with putty client.

  • System > Security Profile > SSH service running on host
  • Able to establish SSH connection by using localhost login on host
  • Able to establish SSH connection by using Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 7.6, ONLY ONCE
    • then will receive Connection refused error
    • after rebooting ESXi host able to establish a ssh session through RHEL, but subsequent logins will fail
  • No firewalls between clients and servers
  • Followed KB (1039095) and modified  /var/run/inetd.conf per article
  • Per Community Discussion modified PuTTY, Connection > SSH > Kex”.  Selected “Diffie-Hellman group exchange” and moved to the bottom of the list, so it is not used
  • sshd.conf > MaxStartups 10:30:60
  • Nothing modified in /etc/ssh/ssh.config or sshd.config

I had installed Dell OpenManage at one point, but currently OpenManage server has been  un-associated from the vCenter server and the OpenMange server is powered off.

Attached are the outputs from successful and failed ssh -vvv sessions.

Any ideas? Thanks

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