VMware ESXi 4 Log Files

Like most VI Admins, I've been using VMware ESXi quite a lot more lately and I'm slowly coming across things that are different to how they are in ESX. Log files being one of these differences.

With the absence of the Service Console, ESXi presents a slightly different architecture. If you haven't yet read The Architecture of VMware ESXi, I would recommend having a good read through.

Differences between ESX and ESXi logs

Here is the common log file structure in ESX (Source)

  • /var/log/vmware/hostd.log – ESX Service Log
  • var/log/vmware/vpx/vpxa.log – vSphere Client Agent Logs
  • /var/log/vmware/aam – VMware HA Logs
  • /var/logvmkernel – VMKernel Messages
  • /var/log/vmkwarning – VMKernel Warnings
  • /var/log/messages – Service Console Log

Here is the common log file structure in ESXi

  • /var/log/vmware/hostd.log – ESXi Service Log
  • var/log/vmware/vpx/vpxa.log – vCenter Agent Logs
  • /var/log/messages – Syslog Log (Combines vmkernel & hostd)

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Using vMA As Your ESXi Syslog Server

This is something I did a while ago, but it came to my attention that people didn't; a) Know that it's recommended to use a syslog server with ESXi b) You could use an application built in to vMA called vilogger.

Although it is stated in The Architecture of VMware ESXi…..

Because the in-memory file system does not persist when the power is shut down, log files do not survive a reboot. ESXi has the ability to configure a remote syslog server, enabling you to save all log information on an external system. 

…..it is not a well known fact. So that is partly the reason for writing the post. The other reason is to introduce you to vilogger, which is part of the vMA. Of course you can use which ever syslog server you wish,  if you plan to use your own, be sure to checkout Managing VMware ESXi page #68 to view the configuration steps.

I'm not going to take you through the steps of installing vMA, nor am I going to tell you all about what the vMA (vSphere Manage Assistant) does. If you want to read more about that please find the relevant links in the Sources section at the bottom of the page. But I am going to take you through the steps I took to use vMA as my ESXi syslog server.

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