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Running ESXTOP Locally on ESXi

At some point, most VMware administrators have had to enter ESXTOP to perform some level of troubleshooting. ESXi allows the use of ESXTOP, though it looks slightly different than the ESX counterpart.

For ESXi 4 installations, the hardest part of running ESXTOP is simply getting to it. Check out my May column for accessing the ESXi prompt to get started.

Once you've enabled prompt access, many of the fundamentals to ESX will flow naturally to ESXi. ESXTOP is no exception. Running ESXTOP in ESXi looks slightly different, with more columns displayed (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1. ESXTOP has a different, slightly less polished look in ESXi 4 than in ESX. (Click image to view larger version.)

The difference between the ESX and the ESXi versions are clear. Individual VMs are listed in line with the processes of ESXi. We can run the ESXTOP parameters to jump to details about a particular area of interest with the host. Ideally, you can get to the main page of ESXTOP 4 from an ESX host. The ESXTOP help in ESXi is limited.

Some of the monitors that can be run ESXTOP with the interactive display include:

  • CPU Data: Accessed by pressing "c" and is the main start page of ESXTOP
  • Memory Data: Accessed by pressing "m"
  • Network Data: Pressing "n" switches context to display VMs and ESXi networking usage
  • Disk controller: Pressing "d" allows the vmhba devices to be enumerated and show their current I/O
  • VM disk status: Pressing "v" will show individual VMs and their disk operation status
VM status in ESXTOP
Figure 2. ESXi host running ESXTOP shows status of a virtual machine disk device and their I/O; in this case, there are three VMs running. (Click image to view larger version.)

Troubleshooting is one of the fundamental elements of finesse for a virtualization administrator, and ESXTOP is one of the tools of choice for VMware administrators. Do you use ESXTOP on ESXi? Share your usage strategies below.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 08/06/2009 at 12:47 PM


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