Using a Raspberry Pi to Access ESXi VMs

If you’re setting up a VM lab for multiple users and need a cheap solution for access, the Raspberry Pi could be a good solution. The following is a guide for accessing ESXi guides from a Pi.

Requirements:

  • Fully Functioning Raspberry Pi Running Raspbian
  • Server Running ESXi (Free Version Works)
  • Windows Machine with vSphere

Sources:

  • https://platform9.com/support/enable-vnc-on-vmware-deployments/
  • https://www.netiq.com/documentation/cloudmanager22/ncm22_reference/data/bxzaz5n.html

Instructions:

– Create ESXi Firewall Rules

1. Open vSphere, select your target server, then the Configuration tab.

2. Scroll down to firewall, and click Properties.

3. In Firewall Properties, scroll down until you find gdbserver, check the box, and click OK.

4. ESXi Firewall rules complete!

 

– Configure VM for VNC access:

1. Use Putty to SSH to your ESXi server (or use keyboard and monitor connected to server with the local shell), and cd to the Datastore (I created a symlink to the datastore volume in the volumes directory previously, but you may have to find the correct volume by trial and error).

2. Find the VM for which you want to enable VNC, cd to its directory, and open the .vmx file with vi (if you aren’t very familiar with vi, there’s a basic guide here).

3. Scroll to the bottom of the file and add the following lines (replace the “XX” with any two numbers you haven’t used for another VM; you have 5900-5999):

RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled = “True”

RemoteDisplay.vnc.port = “59XX”

4. Record the port number you used then save and exit the file.

5. Repeat with all VMs to which you want to allow VNC access.

 

– Access the VM from Your Pi

1. From you Pi’s desktop, open the menu and navigate to Internet -> VNC Viewer (this should be installed by default).

2. Click file then “New Connection.” In the “VNC Server” box, type in the IP address for your ESXi server followed by the port you selected earlier and whatever name you want to give the connection in the “Name” box. Leave the other options as-is and click OK.

3. You should now see this icon for your connection. Double click it, press continue if you get an unsecured connection warning, and…

4. You should now have a console!

 

– Notes:

1. Do not do this for any VMs you need to keep secure from other users of your network! Anyone on your network will be able to use VNC to connect to the VMs.

2. You need to have VM Tools installed on the VM for the console to work properly (see here for the VMWare guide).

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