VMware ESXI 5.5 lost root password

We do not know what it is, it appears or it got changed somehow.

1. We have critical vm running different applicatoins for our business. It is relatively new install, and it is the trial license; therefore, we havent  gone to the next step of paying for it, and installing a backup.
2. We can access each of the individual vms through ssh or windows (only one server).

I have read that the only vm supported method is to reinstall esxi, but is there a way without wiping out everything on the hd.

What procedure do you suggest to recover this password and minimize downt time?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Correct, the supported method is re-installing VMware ESXi, this does not erase the VMs, when re-installing, it will detect the existing VMs, on the VMFS datastore, and prompt to PRESERVE this - YES!


and then later, after installing, you can browse the datastore and Add VMs to the Inventory.

see Step 6 in my EE Article

HOW TO: Clone or Copy a virtual machine in VMware vSphere Hypervisor ESX/ESXi 4.x or ESXi 5.0

if you do want to reset the password, here is a procedure here

Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information TechnologyCommented:
My suggestion is to shutdown all VMs running on the host.  Reinstall ESXi as it will only overwrite the ESXi and remember that all your VMs are on the storage.  Installation does not overwrite your data store.  Once ESXi is installed, tell the server to scan your datastore.  After that is done the open up the datastore browser, navigate to folder for each VM, highlight the VMX file, right click and import.

The only thing that you would need to redo would be your networking.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
The installation does not overwrite your datastore - but you need to select the correct Answer to the Question - PRESERVE VMFS Datastore!
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KoolandrewAuthor Commented:
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your quick response.
Please pretend for a moment, that i know nothing, as i know a little more than that, and let me know specifically below.

Could you expand "Preserve VMFS Datastore" comment

1. If i say yes, would everything work as is, with the only difference being that i would be able to use vsphere again from a remote client. If not, could you describe, as best you can in layman's terms, what i would need to do.
2. If it is yes, how long would the server be inoperable. It is a live server, critical to our business. If this depends upon the procedures in 1, could you please expand.

Thanks for the update.
KoolandrewAuthor Commented:
HI i didnt see all the responses, only the last one, as i just signed up for EE.

When Mohammed says to power off all the VMs, how should i do that as i dont have access, other than manually going to each machine and shutting them down. This would take a lengthy amount of time in itself.

Is there any way doing this without being offline and/or losing existing settings. When he says that i would lose networking, does that mean i would have to go back and assign ips again to each vm in the datastore.

Again, i really dont know anything about this.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
1. If you do not select YES, to preserve, you will end up with a factory installed version of ESXi, and you will lose all your VMs. If you select YES to preserve, you will end up with a factory installed version of ESXi with NO VMs in the inventory, but you can add these in a few minutes.

You will need to re-create any configuration you had completed on ESXi.

You will need to re-connect with the vSphere Client, complete any post configurations you do originally, based on your recorded documentation (for some clients, this is NONE!).

2. It would take us minutes, but I'll give you worst case between 1-2 hours.

a. 30 minutes to re-install.
b. 30 minutes to re-configure.
c. 30 minutes to add VMs to inventory.
d. 30 minutes to test and power on.

(worst case figures!)

You can only shutdown the VMs, if you can access the VMs via SSH or RDP (Remote Desktop Connection - Windows)

VMs will not be affected....

Configuration Lost, is the configuration performed at the HOST level, it's the HOST which will be reset!
Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information TechnologyCommented:
When I say shut all the virtual machines, you shut them down.  You mentioned that you had access to your guest/virtual machines via SSH or RDP.
KoolandrewAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your responses.

The person in charge of this, is no longer with the company. I believe that i have the relevant info for all the VM's.

Is there any way to hire someone remotely in order to ensure it is done properly.

I can go to the physical location, but i have little confidence that i will do it correctly.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You can check peoples profiles on Experts Exchange,  there is a Hire Me button.

Click it to make contact.

If you have Remote Access into the location, and e.g. iLo or similar for the server, it could be done remotely.

e.g. re-installation.
KoolandrewAuthor Commented:
Hi sorry for the delay.

Here is a screenshot when i log into the server directly. I have not done anything else as i am super paranoid at this point and dont want to screw up the existing server.
I have one other question, attached is a screenshot from a terminal login on the physical server. Is there a way to change the password, as we are not getting a login prompt.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Okay, that is what we call the DCUI (Direct Console User Interface).

To proceed any further, you will need to have the root password.

or an account which has the equivalent root privileges.
KoolandrewAuthor Commented:
What key would they press to get the login. As you can see from the picture, it only shows F2 or F12
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Press F2, it will ask for a username and password, F12 it wll ask for a username and password.

If you press Alt-F1, Alt-F2, you will get a login prompt, again you will need to use a root username or equivalent.

without the root password, you will not be able to do alot or login.

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KoolandrewAuthor Commented:

We can log in directly in the DCUI terminal but cannot connect VMware Vsphere client; thankfully, our password remains the same..
Is there any way of enabling this to work again while logged into the DCUI terminal without having to reboot the server.

Can you recommend some troubleshooting from the DCUI to resolve this issue, and prevent it again.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Okay, so  you can login to the DCUI with the root and password ?

If you can, the same username and password, should be able to connect to the server.

You can ping the server, and connect via SSH ?

if you cannot, the following may help.

1. Restart Network Management Agents from the DCUI (this does not affect the running VMs.

if this does not work.

2. Restart the Host.
KoolandrewAuthor Commented:
Hi Andrew,

1. i have always been able to ping, but never ssh, at least from normal port. Is there a different port for Vmware.
2. Is the restarting network mgmt agents an option easily done from the console?

How would i prevent this from happening again??

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