Different ways to enable Tech Support Mode TSM on ESXi 4.1

Posted by on July 14, 2010 in VMware, vSphere | 3 comments

For anyone that has been running or played with ESXi in the previous versions you should have a good idea of what Tech Support Mode is. The Tech Support Mode or TSM is a sort of simple version of the system console that was available on the classic versions of ESX. Except that the TSM mode is not Linux based and does not have all the capabilities that the old COS had. But you can now access Tech Support Mode locally or via SSH if you follow the instructions below to enable them. I have become very comfortable with the old console access and that’s probably my biggest complaint about having to use ESXi. I’ve been playing around with the vMA or virtual management appliance that can be used to remotely manage ESXi hosts in the lab but its just not the same. I guess it will become second nature the more that I use it since classic ESX will no longer be offered in ESX 5.0 when it is released in the future.

To enable local or remote TSM from the Direct Console User Interface (DCUI):
  1. At the DCUI of the ESXi host, press F2 and provide credentials when prompted.
  2. Scroll to Troubleshooting Options, and press Enter.
  3. If you want to enable local TSM, select Local Tech Support and press Enter once. This allows users to login on the virtual console of the ESXi host.

    If you want to enable remote TSM, select Remote Tech Support (SSH) and press Enter once. This allows users to login via SSH on the virtual console of the ESXi host.

  4. Optionally, if you want to configure the timeout for TSM:
    1. Select Modify Tech Support timeout and press Enter.
    2. Enter the desired timeout value in minutes and press Enter.
  5. Press Esc three times to return to the main DCUI screen.
To enable local or remote TSM from the vSphere Client:
  1. Select the host and click the Configuration tab.
  2. Click Security profile > Properties.
  3. Click Local Tech Support or Remote Tech Support (SSH) and click Options.
  4. Choose the desired startup policy and click Start, then click OK.
  5. Verify that the daemon selected in step 3 shows as running in the Services Properties window.
To configure the TSM timeout value using the vSphere Client:
  1. Select the host and click the Configuration tab.
  2. Click Advanced Settings.
  3. Change the UserVars.TSMTimeOut field to the desired value in minutes.
  4. Click OK.
To access the local TSM:
  1. At the main DCUI screen, press ALT+F1 simultaneously. This opens a virtual console window to the host.
  2. Provide credentials when prompted.

    Note: When typing the password, characters are not displayed on the console.

To access the remote TSM:
  1. Open an SSH client.
  2. Specify the IP address or domain name of the ESX host.


    • Directions may vary depending on what SSH client you are using. For more information, consult vendor documentation and support.
    • By default, SSH works on TCP port 22.
  3. Provide credentials when prompted.

About Brian Suhr

Brian is a VCDX5-DCV and a Sr. Tech Marketing Engineer at Nutanix and owner of this website. He is active in the VMware community and helps lead the Chicago VMUG group. Specializing in VDI and Cloud project designs. Awarded VMware vExpert status 6 years for 2016 - 2011. VCP3, VCP5, VCP5-Iaas, VCP-Cloud, VCAP-DTD, VCAP5-DCD, VCAP5-DCA, VCA-DT, VCP5-DT, Cisco UCS Design


  1. Anyone know how one might go about enabling TSM through the kickstart script during a pxe boot ESXi 4.1 install? ie one can specify all network settings etc in the kickstart script yet i'm unaware of an option to enable tsm mode. this would be rather handy when deploying many systems.


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