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VMWare ESX 3 - No Root ssh remote access by Default

09/24/07

Permalink 10:15:05 pm by guy, Categories: VMWare, Random Stuff

If you use VMWare ESX 3, you probably have run into the intentional security setting that it has that disallows login using the root account when using ssh to telnet to your VMWare hosts. This is legitimate in that you can easily login using a lower privilege account and then SU to get root once you are logged in.

Well, today I ran into a Dell/EMC utility that I had to use to collect maintenance info for our SAN at work. That utility would only work if you gave it a root access login. That isn’t completely trivial in that you really probably shouldn’t have it configured that way and you have to edit one of them Linux style config files. I know it isn’t that difficult, but I’m a Windows guy and I want a GUI or simple tool to do the job.

After a little research I found one. I used it and it worked incredibly well and was simple. It is from a company called Veeam. They have a *FREE* tool called Root Access that does it all for you and does it simply. All you need is the root password and a non-root username and password that can be used to remotely access the VMWare host machine. It uses your account to login and then elevates to root and makes the change required. Very easy, very cool, very free.

What I did for my situation was use the tool to allow root access by ssh, then I ran the utility that needed the root login, and then reversed the process so as not to leave the security compromised.

Veeam also has another free tool that is supposed to be great for transferring files to or between VMWare hosts. It is called WinSCP. It is supposed to be very fast, and again, it is free!

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I'm a generalist, at least if I'm honest. In my job I am primarily a developer, but also a sysadmin, and (as little as possible) technical support. I know a little about a lot of things, a lot about some things, and everything about nothing. Here I will post random learnings...

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