Start and Manage a VM Without Using vSphere Client

You’re familiar with features in VMware vSphere that can help bring up critical virtual infrastructure after a widespread datacenter outage — planned or otherwise — but did you also know that it’s possible to power on a virtual machine and even determine the dynamic IP address of a guest OS using a simple command-line utility?  This could be handy after a disaster or if you normally rely on a Windows virtual machine to run the vSphere Client and don’t feel like firing up Fusion for one quick task.

Power on and SSH to a Linux VM from Mac OS X

Consider this real-world situation:  You are working remotely on your Mac and need to log into a powered-off Linux VM back in the datacenter.  Don’t fret — if you can ssh to the host using Tech Support Mode (VMware ESXi 4.1 shown here), you are most of the way there.  Thanks to vim-cmd you can find your VM, power it on, and learn the guest OS IP address in no time:

Let’s break it down step by step:

1. Use grep to find the ID of your VM (1008 in this example):

~ # vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms | grep -i CENTOS1
1008   CENTOS1      [CX4-01-LUN9] CENTOS1/CENTOS1.vmx         centos64Guest

2. Quick sanity check to verify the VM is actually powered off:

~ # vim-cmd vmsvc/get.summary 1008 | egrep '(power|ip)'
      powerState = "poweredOff",
      ipAddress = ,

3. Power on, wait a few moments, and check status again:

~ # vim-cmd vmsvc/power.on 1008
Powering on VM:
~ # vim-cmd vmsvc/get.summary 1008 | egrep '(power|ip)'
      powerState = "poweredOn",
      ipAddress = "",
~ #

4.  Connect with ssh (or RDP, if targeting a Windows VM) and get on with things


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5 Responses to Start and Manage a VM Without Using vSphere Client

  1. dave says:

    Thanks for the steps.

    It looks like you have to have VMWare guest tools installed in order to get the ip address this way. Is this true?

    ~ # vim-cmd vmsvc/get.summary 16 | egrep ‘(power|ip)’
    powerState = “poweredOn”,
    ipAddress = ,

    We don’t install the guest tools:

    guest = (vim.vm.Summary.GuestSummary) {
    dynamicType = ,
    guestId = ,
    guestFullName = ,
    toolsStatus = “toolsNotInstalled”,
    toolsVersionStatus = “guestToolsNotInstalled”,
    toolsRunningStatus = “guestToolsNotRunning”,
    hostName = ,
    ipAddress = ,

  2. Yura says:

    Very thanks for it! You are safe my life! 🙂
    sorry for my english (:

  3. Yura says:

    Im lost vCenter on blade array, and i’l need up it. Very thanks for help!

  4. Jack says:


    I don’t find IP address in VM summay tab, when i grep the VM summary for IP details using vim-cmd vmsvc, i get the output of ipAddress=

    Sample output:

    ~ # vim-cmd vmsvc/get.summary 9408 | egrep ‘(power|ip)’
    powerState = “poweredOn”,
    ipAddress = ,
    ~ #
    please advise on this, how to edit the VM details by using vim-cmd to set the ipAddress.

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