ESXi Embedded Host Client

*UPDATED* December 2017. The ESXi embedded host client is a web application served direct from an ESXi server that allows basic management of virtual infrastructure. It is somewhat similar in appearance to Vsphere. Vmware has released it as a “fling“, which can be easily added to an existing ESXi server as follows. NB it is recommended to try this in a lab environment rather than a production machine.

Download the vib file from the link above and install. The ESXi server in this example (ESXi 6.0.0 build 3029758) has Internet access, so wget was used to grab the software directly:

/tmp # wget http://download3.vmware.com/software/vmw-tools/esxui/esxui-signed-3843236.vib
Connecting to download3.vmware.com (104.82.149.241:80)
esxui-signed-3843236 100% |***********************************************************************************************************|  3155k  0:00:00 ETA

Now install the vib:

/tmp # esxcli software vib install -v /tmp/esxui-signed-3843236.vib 
Installation Result
   Message: Operation finished successfully.
   Reboot Required: false
   VIBs Installed: VMware_bootbank_esx-ui_1.3.0-3843236
   VIBs Removed: 
   VIBs Skipped: 

In a browser (Firefox recommended), surf to a URL composed of your ESXi server’s IP address with “/ui” added, eg http://123.123.123.123/ui.

Login and you get a surprisingly slick and fast interface. Basic operations are supported. Creation of virtual machines, storage management and network management. Network management is aided with the sort of diagrams familiar to Vsphere users. Overall it is a very impressive piece of software and a pleasure to use.

Note this is designed for management of a single ESXi instance. For managing Vcenter, is the HTML5 web client you’ll be wanting.

Updating the Client

Since this article was first written, the Host Client has become a standardized VMware product, and will replace the obsolescent Vsphere standalone application. Although the Host Client has been officially released, VMware Labs continue to release Fling versions with the latest bug fixes and features. Check the “fling page” for the latest version.

For example, the most recent release at the time of writing is version 1.24.0, released on November 13th 2017. To upgrade to the latest release, proceed as follows.

Download the VIB file to your ESXi server. Here, I am using wget on the server itself. For some reason it needs to be in /var/log/vmware to install properly:

$ cd /var/log/vmware
$ wget http://download3.vmware.com/software/vmw-tools/esxui/esxui-signed-7119706.vib

And perform the upgrade:

$ esxcli software vib update -v esxui-signed-7119706.vib
Installation Result
   Message: Operation finished successfully.
   Reboot Required: false
   VIBs Installed: VMware_bootbank_esx-ui_1.24.0-7119706
   VIBs Removed: VMware_bootbank_esx-ui_1.17.0-5214684
   VIBs Skipped: 

The upgrade takes just a few seconds to complete. Reload the UI page in your browser, then click on “Help->About” near the top right. A dialogue will pop up confirming the new version of 1.24.0.

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