How to enable the Root user SSH access in vSphere ESX 4

As a security measure , SSH access to the service console using the Root account is disabled by default on vSPhere ESX 4. Although not best practice, there are times you may wish to enable access to the Root user.

Method – CLI commands show in bold

  1. Login as Root to the ESX console
  2. Go to the SSH directory – cd /etc/ssh
  3. Open the ssh_config file – nano sshd_config
  4. Change PermitRootLogin no to PermitRootLogin yes
  5. Save and exit the config file – CTRL+ X , click Y to confirm
  6. Restart the SSHD service – service sshd restart
  7. Amend the service console firewall rules – esxcfg-firewall -e sshClient and esxcfg-firewall -e sshServer

The Root account should now be able to connect remotely using SSH

Please note, this applies to ESX only, ESXi does not have a Service Console. Access is provided using the remote command line interface or pearl toolkit. SSH access can be configured to the support mode, however it is enabled in a different manner.