Accessing the ESXi Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) via SSH

This post just goes to show that I’m always learning new things, even when they are old things! I saw a tweet float by from Grant Orchard talking about getting into the ESXi Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) over SSH.

I had no idea you could do this. I searched around and found a decent number of blog posts on the topic, such as this one from Maish Saidel-Keesing, along with VMware KB 2039638 entitled Accessing Direct Console User Interface (DCUI) from an SSH session. My head must have been in the sand! However, I figure that it never hurts to further spread the word on something good to the community, right?

Fair warning, though. As pointed out by Frank Büchsel, the KB specifically states:

Changing network settings using this command may make the host unusable and can necessitate a reboot to recover.

Using DCUI via SSH

Make sure that SSH is enabled and started on your ESXi host. In the lab, I always have SSH Running. In production, I tend to have it Stopped.

SSH Running
SSH is Running

Next, SSH into the ESXi host. I’ve run a version check just to show that it’s a real system. The DCUI command should work on any version of ESXi 5.X.

SSH Into an ESXi Host
SSH Into an ESXi Host

If you’re running SSH in a window, size the window appropriately for your eyeballs. Then, type DCUI at the command prompt and use it like your normally would. I found that if I resize the SSH window while working in the DCUI, it breaks the DCUI interface. To fix this, try Ctrl + C or reconnect to the host.


When done, press Ctrl + C to escape back to the command prompt.

A big round of thanks to the peanut gallery on Twitter, too. 🙂