Over the years it has always be quite a pain to manage an ESXi host standalone. You would either need to have installed the C# client or know your ESXCLI commands to do anything. As VMware is moving away from using the C# client you would most likely need to know your command lines to perform actions on the ESXi host.
Recently released on VMware’s Fling website is “ESXi Embedded Host Client” which I think will overcome the above problem.
So what is “ESXi Embedded Host Client” you may ask?
It’s a small client software which is installed on the ESXi host for you to get a GUI interface by using a web browser. It looks just like the web client for vCenter but is purely for just managing an ESXi host. You may wonder why would I need this as I could just use the web client and manage it.
Well I have been through times where I had my ESXi host disconnected from vCenter and I need to SSH to the host or use C# client to access the host to perform some tasks. With this new fling all I would need is a web browser and I can get to my ESXi host... how cool is that?
At the moment the product is still in development stages so there are limited feature for you to use but it is worth deploying to your lab to try it out. It is really just 6-7 easy steps and no reboot of the host is required....
The software will only work on ESXi 6.0 and 5.5u3 onwards and you would need a browser which has java script and cookies enabled.
Taken from fling website
There are two methods to install the VIB onto the ESXi host.
ESXi host which has Internet access
1) Use your favourite SSH client software to connect to the host, I will be using Putty
2) Run the following command to install the VIB: "esxcli software vib install -v http://download3.vmware.com/software/vmw-tools/esxui-signed.vib" (URL subject to change)
If the URL has changed for whatever reason go to to https://labs.vmware.com/flings/esxi-embedded-host-client. Right click "Download" button and select "Copy link address". The address would be copied to your windows clipboard so that you can paste it in notepad, putty etc.
3) If the VIB was installed successfully you should see the screen below
4) In your web browser navigator to URL https://<ESXi-Host-IP/ui and enter your credentials to log on
ESXi host without Internet access
1) Go to https://labs.vmware.com/flings/esxi-embedded-host-client and tick box "I have read and agree to the Technical Preview Agreement. I also understand that Flings are experimental and should not be run on production systems." Now you can click the "Download" button to download the VIB.
2) Once you have downloaded the file upload the VIB to either a shared datastore the host can see or the local datastore of the ESXi host. I have documented the steps below of me uploading to a ESXi host using WinSCP
- Using WinSCP launch the program and enter the details of your ESXi host IP, username, password then click "Login".
- Once connected navigate to the directory where you would like to upload the VIB. I have uploaded to "tmp" directory and remember to make a note of the VIB name and disconnect your WinSCP session from the host
3) Use your favourite SSH client to connect to the host. ( I will be using Putty)
5) If the VIB was installed successfully you should see the screen below
6) In your web browser navigate to URL https://<ESXi-Host-IP>/ui and enter your credentials to log on
As you can see from the screen shot below the amount of information that you have presented to you in a single panel of glass is really good and now you can also use your Mac to access these. There are limited features available to be used such as:
- VM operations such as Power off, on, reset, suspend
- Creating a new VM, from scratch or from OVF/OVA (Limited OVA support)
- Displaying summaries, events, tasks, performance monitoring, notifications/alerts
- Console to VMs
- Host services such as maintenance mode, reboot, advance settings, security & users
- Configure host networking and storage
Removing the VIB1) SSH to the ESXi host and run the following command "esxcli software vib remove -n esxui"
2) You should see the following message if it has been successful and using your browser going to URL https://<ESXi-Host-IP>/ui should give you a blank page
As you can see it is really quite simple to install and try out this really powerful tool. So give it a go and provide some feedback so that we can get a better host client software going forward from VMware.
Head here for all the information on ESXi Embedded Host Client https://labs.vmware.com/flings/esxi-embedded-host-client