I've inherited a VMware ESX Server 3i 3.5.0 but haven't found any documentation, especially not the root password, nor have I gotten hold of the former admin.

The suggestions I've found online presuppose that I first get a GRUB boot menu, which I don't.

So, lacking a GRUB menu, how do I recover or reset the root password, short of a reinstall?

If it is of any significance, the server is a Dell PowerEdge 2850.


ESXi (and I'm assuming that's what you're using, based on the mentioned "3i") doesn't include the GRUB menu.

According to VMWare's "Changing a forgotten root password on an ESX host" page:

Note: This article does not pertain to ESXi. Reinstalling is the only way to reset a root password on ESXi.

Perhaps the info found at "How to reset the root password of VMware ESXi 4.1" will help you get into your v3 ESXi machine without a reinstall, or at least give you an idea of what you need to be looking at. :)

According to VMware knowledge base article 1317898 it is not possible to reset the root password of an ESXi installation. Well, maybe it's not easy for non-Unix guys, but it certainly is possible.

Hope that helps...

  • 1
    +1 I wasn't aware that something calling itself "VMware ESX Server 3i" is in fact a "VMware ESXi Server". Apparently there was a change in naming convention some time after the release of the software. This helps a lot, and in fact your second link seem to be my solution. I'll try that when I get back to the office. – Zano Mar 30 '11 at 22:03
  • 1
    Worked like a charm. – Zano Apr 5 '11 at 6:40

ESXi does not have GRUB and uses it's own bootloader. Repair installation is the only official solution supported by VMware. But it seems that some rocket scientist may have found a way


Sounds like the GRUB menu is hidden. This can probably be changed by editing the menu.lst file, but I'm pretty sure you will need root access to do that.

One thing you can try, though, is to press the shift key while booting. That might bring the GRUB menu up.

  • Alas, no cigar on the press shift suggestion. Thanks thou. – Zano Mar 30 '11 at 17:53

Here you go..

how to reset vmware esxi root password


  • 1
    While the link might provide the answer it can quickly become unavailable. Please can you provide the key information from the link within your answer. Thanks. – Matthew Williams May 2 '14 at 9:36

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