VMware ESXi 4 vs ESXi 5 Log File Locations

This post is inspired by a tweet from Andrew Storrs, where he pinpoints that the host log file locations have changed between ESXi 4 and ESXi 5.

Note: This post has been updated with new log files for ESXi 5.1

ESXi 4 Log File Locations:

Log file locationLog file description
/var/log/messagesCore VMkernel logs, including device discovery, storage and networking device and driver events, virtual machine startup, and a merged copy of the hostd and vpxa management service logs.
/var/log/vmware/hostd.logHost management service logs, including virtual machine and host Tasks and Events, communication with the vSphere Client and vCenter Server vpxa agent, and SDK connections.
/var/log/sysboot.logEarly VMkernel startup, module loading, and host initialization.

ESXi 5 Log File Locations:

Log file locationLog file description
/var/log/auth.logESXi Shell authentication success and failure.
/var/log/dhclient.logDHCP client service, including discovery, address lease requests and renewals.
/var/log/esxupdate.logESXi patch and update installation logs.
/var/log/hostd.logHost management service logs, including virtual machine and host Task and Events, communication with the vSphere Client and vCenter Server vpxa agent, and SDK connections.
/var/log/shell.logESXi Shell usage logs, including enable/disable and every command entered.
/var/log/sysboot.logEarly VMkernel startup and module loading.
/var/log/syslog.logManagement service initialization, watchdogs, scheduled tasks and DCUI use.
/var/log/usb.logUSB device arbitration events, such as discovery and pass-through to virtual machines.
/var/log/vob.logVMkernel Observation events, similar to vob.component.event.
/var/log/vmkernel.logCore VMkernel logs, including device discovery, storage and networking device and driver events, and virtual machine startup.
/var/log/vmkwarning.logA summary of Warning and Alert log messages excerpted from the VMkernel logs.
/var/log/vmksummary.logA summary of ESXi host startup and shutdown, and an hourly heartbeat with uptime, number of virtual machines running, and service resource consumption.

Between version 5.0 and 5.1 the log file locations have not changed, but a couple of new logs have been added.

ESXi 5.1 New Log File Locations:

Log file locationLog file description
/var/log/lacp.logLink Aggregation Control Protocol logs
/var/log/hostd-probe.logHost management service responsiveness checker
/var/log/rhttpproxy.logHTTP connections proxied on behalf of other ESXi host webservices.

Clearly the number of host log file has increased in newer versions, and that should make it much easier to find the log entries you are looking for. A more granular logging into different specialized log files can only be a good thing.

Logs from vCenter Server Components on ESXi 5.1:

Log file locationLog file description
/var/log/vpxa.logvCenter Server vpxa agent logs, including communication with vCenter Server and the Host Management hostd agent
/var/log/fdm.logvSphere High Availability logs, produced by the fdm service

Just remember that ESXi only logs to memory, and that you need to set logging to a syslog server to preserve logs between reboots. If ESXi 5 is installed on local disk, the log files will be persistent through reboots, since it creates a zipped archive in /var/run/log. If ESXi is deployed via Auto Deploy, no local disk is used and the log files are not persistent, and needs to be collected by an external syslog service.

For more details about various VMware products and their log file locations, check VMware Knowledgebase article 1021806 and VMware Knowledgebase article 2032076

Auto Installation and Configuring of vSphere ESXi 5

One of the last projects I’ve been involved with at Seatrans, is to automate the installation and configuration of vSphere ESXi 5 hosts for deployment on vessels. I’ve talked a bit about this before, both on vSoup and in Setting Up Automated ESXi Deployments where I outlined my PXE and PowerCLI based installation and configuration scheme. Not much has changed since then, except updating the PXE server to offer ESXi 5, instead of ESXi 4 and a lot of work has been put into the scripting, including a front-end GUI for the PowerCLI script itself. The end “product” is now in place for mass deployments for internal use.

The following video shows how the PXE based installation works, as well as a run through the now GUI based configuration tool aptly called Seatrans Hypervisor Installation Tool.

The video jumps a bit between two VMs, one running Windows Server 2008 R2, that runs the DHCP/PXE services and the PowerCLI script, and one that gets ESXi installed and configured:

This goes to show that you can create your own, specialized and portable deployment solution without requiring elaborate network configurations or reconfiguring of existing infrastructure.

Note: I will not be providing downloadable versions of the final script at this time. The reason for this is quite simple, it’s very specific and tailored for a non-generic environment. If I can manage to find the time, I’ll post a generic version later but in order for anyone else to utilize the PowerCLI scripts I’ve created, a lot of work is required.

Network Simulation in VMware Workstation 8

In the new VMware Workstation 8 release, VMware has added a rudimentary network simulation setting where you can tweak bandwidth and packet loss for a given network card. Very useful when testing applications and servers and want to know how they react to network issues, or if you want to simulate a WAN link. I know this was available in Workstation 7 as well, but it used to be a team feature. Now it’s per vNIC feature, which makes it much more useable.

Configuring it is very easy, but you need to know where to look to be able to find the feature.

Configuring Network Adapter Advanced Settings in VMware Workstation 8

  • Find your VM, right click it and select settings
  • Select the Network Adapter and click on the “Advanced…” button
  • This brings up the Network Adapter Advanced Settings window, where you can tweak the network settings including inbound/outbound bandwidth and packet loss percentage

    There are a number of predefined settings for bandwidth, making it easy to simulate various scenarios like ISDN, cable, leased T3 and so on. You can even modify the virtual network card MAC address in the same window, if you need to do that.
  • Tweak the settings, and the new bandwidth and packet loss settings will immediately be applied to the VM

Configuring Network Adapter Advanced Settings in VMware Workstation 8: Video Demo

Conclusion

I love this. In my day job I’m often faced with simulating how different applications work over some rather wonky WAN lines, and building this kind of feature set into VMware Workstation 8 makes a lot of sense. I do hope they improve it in the future though, as I really would like to see it add tweakable settings for latency as well, which often is the main killer in WAN environments. For now, I’ll have to stick to WANem for the latency simulation, at least until VMware adds latency tweaking to VMware Workstation.