Becoming An ESXi Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) Ninja

The ESXi Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) is your last line of attack in a situation where all hope is lost. If you’re using some sort of remote console, KVM, or crash cart to hook into an ESXi server to access the DCUI, chances are the network is hosed and you’re trying to un-hose it.

This post will cover some of the powerful features that I commonly use from within the VMware ESXi DCUI.

Additionally, knowing some clutch VMware and Linux commands for the ESXi Shell can really pull your rear out of the fire, while also making you look like a ninja to anyone who happens to be watching over your shoulder. This will be covered in part 2 – Becoming An ESXi Shell Ninja!

Cracking Open The (ESXi) Shell

I’ll start off by showcasing how to enable the ESXi Shell, which is handy if you need to dig into the guts of the hypervisor with your ESXi Shell Ninja skills.

Because you don’t just leave access enabled all the time, right? 🙂

To do this, press F2 from the DCUI and enter your root credentials.

Navigate down to “Troubleshooting Options”

And finally, enable the ESXi Shell. The text on the right will confirm that the shell is enabled.

Looking At Logs In The DCUI

If you are looking for one of these logs, you can browse them directly from the DCUI.

  • Syslog
  • Vmkernel
  • Config
  • hostd (Management Agent)
  • vpxa (vCenter Agent)
  • vobd (Observation Log)

All you have to do is navigate down to the “View System Logs” section and press the number that goes with the log you want.

The limitation here is that you’re stuck with these 6 log types. Although they are popular, if you want to dig deeper you’ll need to go into the ESXi Shell.

Restart Management Agents

Sometimes services just need a good kick in the pants – and by that, I mean a restart.

Navigate back to the “Troubleshooting Options” menu and then choose “Restart Management Agents”. A warning dialog will ask you to confirm the action.

Note: Doing this typically doesn’t affect the virtual machines, but will result in the host losing connection to vCenter temporarily.

Fix The Network!

If your vSphere Distributed Switch decided to take the night off, or someone moved all your management uplinks into the dvUplinkNull group, the “Restore Standard Switch” option is a great way to get back to square one. It builds a single vSphere Standard Switch and allows you to then set the management IP details on it and choose an uplink.

First, choose “Restore Standard Switch” and confirm the prompt.

You will then see your host has built a little vSwitch to get you back up and running. From within the DCUI, you can navitage to the “Configure Management Network” to set up the IP, mask, gateway, domain, and DNS entries.


The DCUI doesn’t get enough love for the really neat things that it can do. While it isn’t as powerful as the ESXi Shell in a lot of ways, it’s also a lot simpler to operate from a learning curve perspective, and continues to get more powerful as the hypervisor evolves.

Do you have any other Ninja tips or tricks to share when using the DCUI? Please leave a comment. 🙂