When trying to apply patches to one of our ESXi 6.0 hosts I found I couldn’t connect to it using ssh. Stopping and starting SSH from vCenter didn’t work. Neither did disabling/enabling from the DCUI.

From my client I’d see:

ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host

So then I resorted to checking out the server from the console. First make sure I stopped SSH from either of the GUI’s.

Use ALT-F1 at the DCUI and logon to the host using your root account.

Then I tried to start sshd as a daemon using:

# /usr/lib/vmware/openssh/bin/sshd -D

Which reported errors Unsupported option running and Unsupported option PrintLastLog

So I editted my /etc/ssh/sshd_config file. Don’t know what caused it. But it was just a # missing from the first line. I guess I must have spannered it at some point when editing it to disable some ciphers. But the good news is using this method I can at least get some clear output from sshd -D to tell me why it wasn’t starting properly.

# running from inetd
# Port 2200
Protocol 2
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key

UsePrivilegeSeparation no

SyslogFacility auth
LogLevel info

PermitRootLogin yes

PrintMotd yes
PrintLastLog no

TCPKeepAlive yes

X11Forwarding no

...

So just to be safe I checked the other hosts and copied an sshd_config from one of the known good ones.

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