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Getting to ESXi logs

I have mentioned in a number of posts on the "Everyday Virtualization" blog how I favor ESXi over ESX for hypervisor selection. This is due to VMware's clear strategy that ESXi is the preferred platform going forward. Within the vSphere Client, the experience is virtually indistinguishable from ESX. If you need to retrieve logs from the ESXi host, these can still be via the vSphere Client with the familiar generate diagnostic bundle task.

While VMware for most situations will point administrators to the vSphere Client for tasks like this, techies like you and I still want knobs to switch and dials to turn. The ESXi host has log files, though slightly different than what you may have worked with in ESX. There are three main log ones for ESXi:

  • vpxa.log: Located in /var/log/vmware/vpx/ for vCenter agent (vpxa)
  • hostd.log: Located in /var/log/vmware/ for base ESXi log
  • messages (no file extension): Located in /var/log/

Ironically, I observed that the hostd.log's first line reads "Log for VMware ESX, pid.." even though it is ESXi. Getting to the log files can be done a number of ways. One of the two ways that I will share to access the logs is to use my previous monthly how-to tip on how to use the command line interface for ESXi.

The second and likely the easiest way to get direct access to log files is to use the built-in host Web transfer engine. If you browse to https://esxi.rwvdev.intra/host (esxi.rwvdev.intra is my ESXi host, insert your host name here) you can access the critical files on the host using local authentication (root or other users set up; see Fig. 1).

A Web page for my lab system hosted at ESXi.
Figure 1. A Web page for my lab system hosted at ESXi. (Click image to view larger version.)

Note that I do not have the vpxa.log file listed, as the host is using the free ESXi and does not have the vCenter agent installed.

Deciphering the logs is an entirely different beast compared to Windows or application logs that you may be familiar with. The best resource to decipher these logs is the VMware Communities family of Web sites, as well as any active support contract with VMware that you may have for your installation base.

Do you use these two ways to access the logs most frequently? Or do you also use the centralized options, PowerShell tools, host screen or other mechanisms? Share your comments here.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 06/24/2010 at 12:47 PM


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