Home > VMware > Deploy vSphere Web Client without Additional Windows Server License

Deploy vSphere Web Client without Additional Windows Server License

So you want to run the vSphere Web Client server but you don’t want to install the Windows version, which may require you to purchase an additional Microsoft Windows Server License? Well I have good news for you. You can download and deploy the vCenter Server Virtual Appliance, which is a SUSE Enterprise Linux based appliance and use the vSphere Web Client server instance on that to manage any other vCenter system. You don’t have to use the VCVA itslef as a vCenter server. This will give you all the features and functions of a vSphere Web Client without having to purchase an additional Windows license from Microsoft. Thanks to Barrie Seed aka @vStorage for the inspiration for this article and the original idea. Let’s walk through the procedure.

Prior to running through the steps below you should have downloaded and deployed the vCenter Server Virtual Appliance (VCVA) ovf version 5.0 from the VMware web site. This process assumes you already have the VCVA connected to the network and configured with the correct timezone already without any further configuration. Please be aware this process has only been validated on VCVA version 5.0, not 5.1. 

This process  assumes that you are not going to be using the VCVA as your vCenter Server. If you are planning to use the VCVA as your vCenter Server then you should not follow this process and should instead follow the VMware documentation for setting up and configuring VCVA. Use this to connect the vSphere Web Client that is included with the VCVA to an already existing vCenter system, without having to deploy another Windows Server and purchasing a Windows Server License.

To de-register the local embedded vCenter System and to register an existing vCenter Server with the vSphere Web Client do the following:

  1. Ensure you have logged into the VCVA and accepted the EULA. To do this you will need to access the VCVA Web Administration interface at https://<VCVA IP>:5480/. Log in using root, and click the Accept EULA button, you can then logout. Be sure not to configure or start the vCenter services on the VCVA.
  2. Through the console of the VCVA Virtual Machine log in as root using the default password
  3. cd /usr/lib/vmware-vsphere-client/scripts
  4. The following command will unregister the local vCenter system from the vSphere Web Client:
    ./admin-cmd unregister https://<VCVA IP>:9443/vsphere-client localhost root <rootpw>
  5. Now we will register the existing vCenter server(s) that we want to manage with this vSphere Web Client:
    ./admin-cmd register https://<VCVA IP>:9443/vsphere-client <vCenter System FQDN> <admin username> <admin pw>
  6. Log out of the vCenter Virtual Appliance by pressing CTRL-D or typing logout and pressing enter, close the VM console.
  7. Now to use the vSphere Web Client point your browser at https://<VCVA IP>:9443/vsphere-client and log in using any authorized vCenter account

You have now successfully registered the vSphere Web Client server instance on the VCVA with your existing vCenter systems. You can now use this to manage your virtual machines. Be aware that if you register multiple vSphere Web Client servers with a vCenter system that the License Client Plug-in from the last vSphere Web Client registered is the one that will be used for vCenter License Reporting.

If you want to know why running the vSphere Web Client is a must when you upgrade to vSphere 5 see my previous article here. If you want to take this to the next level and scale the solution to support a full enterprise and increase high availability see my article titled Increase vSphere Web Client Availability and Scalability for Enterprise Environments.

This post first appeared on the Long White Virtual Clouds blog at longwhiteclouds.com. By Michael Webster +. Copyright © 2012 – IT Solutions 2000 Ltd and Michael Webster +. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.

Categories: VMware Tags: , , ,
  1. iggy
    November 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Thanks for the good article! But I could login to https://:9443/vsphere-client and see nothing there inside.Is it my problem that my host has the name “localhost”, so I have nothing yo register ?

    • November 25, 2011 at 9:35 pm

      Hi Iggy, There should be no reason why you can’t log into the vSphere Web client if you follow the steps in the article and attempt to login to https://VCVAIP:9443/vsphere-client. Use the IP address of the VCVA instead of “localhost”. Your system should not be called localhost. If you give it a proper FQDN you should be able to use that to also access it.

  2. iggy
    November 29, 2011 at 1:19 am

    OK, did it, could login into, but still see nothing special inside the web client:

    VMmware vCenter Management
    Summary Details:
    Virtual Machines 0
    Hosts 0

    In fact, I have 4 virtual machines running….

    In the section “Plug-In Management” I could see the following info:
    Name: License CIient
    Version 5.0.0
    State: Enabled

    What could be wrong ?

    • November 29, 2011 at 7:55 am

      Hi Iggy, Sounds very much like the vCenter server is not registered correctly. Is the vCenter itself showing up inside the vSphere Web Client? When you registered the vCenter Server with the vSphere Web Client did it say it was successful? I would suggest that you follow the process again, unregister the vCenter server and then re-register it again. You should also check the permissions in the vCenter server for the user that you’re logging into the vSphere Web Client with. If the vCenter Server is registered correctly the other thing that might stop the VM’s from being visible is a permissions issue. Let me know how you get on.

  3. iggy
    November 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Reinstalled everything from scratch – doesn’t help, the same view inside web client,
    You write: “…Be sure not to configure or start the vCenter services on the VCVA…”
    Are you sure of this Michael ?
    My problem is that I could unregister the “localhost” instance succesfully, but I could not then register with vCenter FQDN without starting VCenter services on VCVA (error something like “could not connect to… while trying to register).
    If I start VCenter (and configure the database before it), I could register the new instance succesfully, but, as I wrote, see nothing inside the web client, again).

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Iggy, I think I misunderstood what you were trying to do. The article is written with the assumption you are connecting vSphere Web Client to an existing vCenter system, and not the VCVA itself. I will update the article to specifically state this. If you are wanting to use the VCVA as your vCenter Server then you don’t need to unregister vSphere Web Client at all. You just set up the VCVA as per the normal instructions provided in the VMware documentation. You then turn on the vSphere Web Client service when the VCVA configuration is completed. I apologies for any inconvenience caused.

  4. Ram
    December 3, 2011 at 4:03 am


    I installed VCVA and want to use the web client to manage the vcenter with multiple web client connections. What I observed is I can connect to web-client from 1 machine only.
    I cannot open second instance from my machine or any other machine. I get page cannot be displayed when I try to connection https://vcenterhost:9443/vsphere-client

    Is there any restriction on VCVA for number of connections?


  5. Ram
    December 3, 2011 at 6:15 am


    I got it to work. Firewall issue on the client side was the problem.

    thanks for reading my comment.


    • December 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

      Hi Ram, Glad you got it working. There is definitely no restriction like that.

  6. Grant
    December 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Seems like a great idea. Is it possible to dump the VCVA vCenter services to increase performance/decrease required resources? I can easily uninstall the Web client from my Windows vCenter Server system to remove that redundancy.

    • December 22, 2011 at 5:32 am

      Hi Grant,

      If you don’t configure or start the vCenter services on the VCVA they will remain disabled and you will get the best performance possible. The services will still take up disk space on the virtual appliance, but not much. I’ve suggested to some of the product people at VMware that it might be a good idea to break out the components more so you can just run the vSphere Web Client (for example) and as a result they may choose to do that in future releases. But that is by no means certain.

  7. G
    May 2, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Hi all,

    Is there a possibility to change the default Web Client URL (https://vcenterhost:9443/vsphere-client) to something like https://vcenterhost:9443 ?


    • May 2, 2012 at 8:11 am

      There is no supported way to do that in the current version that I’m aware of. But it may be a possibility in future versions of the web client as things are going to be enhanced in future releases.

  8. Tom
    May 18, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Would really appreciate your help. Got the VCVA set up but cannot register the vCenter Server, I keep getting after choosing I or A for SSL ‘cannot complete login due to an incorrect user name or password’. I am using the same ID/password combo I use with the regular vCenter client and I used the FQDN of the vCenter client like you said…
    Upon doing C for cancel I got a message saying the vCenter server can’t be registered, server’s SSL certificate cannot be validated, underlying connection closed, trust relationship cannot be established for ssl/tls secure channel.

    How do I fix this?? It should not have to be this complicated. 🙂

    Thank you, Tom

    • May 18, 2012 at 10:10 am

      How are you specifying your username and password? Are you using the full DOMAIN\Username format? Does the account have admin rights on the vCenter? You’re right that it shouldn’t be that complicated.

      • Tom
        May 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

        I’ll try it again with domain\username…I’m thinking instead of putting the Web Client (Server) onto our vCenter Server which would do the same thing and have one less VM to manage.
        Thank you, Tom

      • May 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

        Hi Tom, That’s definitely an option. Just make sure the vCenter server has enough resources (CPU/MEM) allocated and it should be fine. Having the vSphere Web Client on another system just allows you to scale out the number of users more effectively.

    • June 9, 2012 at 3:22 am

      That depends on the fact if you have one or muiltple vCenter Servers. If you only have 1 it is easiest to create a LUN which is presented to both clusters and simply vMotion it to the other cluster and then Storage vMotion it.

  9. Tom
    May 30, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I’ve decided to go with putting the Web Client (Server) onto the vCenter Server, one less VM to manage etc., I’ve given the vCenter 3 GB, it’s been running fine with 2 GB and I’ll wait to see if I need to add a vCPU or not. Thank you for your help, Tom

  10. Rahul Venu
    December 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I have recently deployed the vcenter applicance Build 880472 on an esxi5.0 host for testing. The appliance says to connect to https://IP:5480/ to accept the EULA.

    when I connect to that address, I am receiving “page cannot be displayed” message from internet explorer.

    When I login to the appliance using the default credentials, and running netstat it shows my client ip with a time_wait state.

    Can you help me to identify the problem?

    • December 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      Hi Rahul, have you tried a different browser? Have you tried rebooting the VCVA? Connecting to https://ip:5480/ should pop up a flash screen. Do you have flash on your machine? What troubleshooting have you tried? Have you considered logging a support request with VMware Support?

  11. Rahul Venu
    December 10, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I was trying to connect to the VCVA from a different network. I tried different browsers, flash was installed, reinstalled the VCVA, I was able to ping the appliance. And finally I connected to the appliance from the same network of VCVA and configured the database. Now it is working from all my networks!!.

    Is there any such recommendations that one should connect to the appliance from the same Network(vlan) for the initial configuration?

    Thank you so much…

    • December 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Rahul, I’m not aware of any documented behavior such as you describe. It is not what I would expect. Did you raise this with VMware Support?

  12. Rahul Venu
    December 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    No, but I will.

  13. Maldacai
    December 14, 2012 at 3:21 am

    Hi, I’m following your instructions above to unregister vcenter from the vcentre appliance and I’m getting the error “command not found”

    I’ve logged on to the server appliance from the console side and navigated to “cd /usr/lib/vmware-vsphere-client/scripts” in that folder I do see admin-cmd.sh

    I then enter “admin-cmd unregister https://:9443/vsphere-client localhost root ” press enter and I get “bash: admin-cmd: command not found”

    am I missing somthing?


    • Maldacai
      December 14, 2012 at 4:03 am

      I can see the contents of the admin-cmd.sh with the vi command but can’t run it.

    • Maldacai
      December 14, 2012 at 7:08 am

      Well I’m able to running the command, but when it asks me “Do you want to unregister this vCentre Server System IP_ADDRESS” Y/N

      I get the error Cannon Connect to vsphere Web Client administration tool.

      I tried Localhost instead of IP and I get the same.

      This is a freshly deployed appliance, only accepted the EULA as mentioned above, nothing else done.

      Any thoughts.

    • December 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Maldacai, it looks like you are missing the hostname or ip address in the URL there. You need to execute the command from the correct location. Also that process was for VCVA 5.0 and may have changed with 5.1. What version are you trying to use?

      • Maldacai
        December 15, 2012 at 9:10 am


        I’m trying the lastest verson 5.1, Sorry my cut and past removed the ip

        From the command line after logging in I entered:

        /usr/lib/vmware-vsphere-client/scripts/admin-cmd.sh unregister root vmware

        I’m then prompted with :

        “Do you want to unregister this vCentre Server System IP_ADDRESS” Y/N

        I select Y and press enter and I get the following error:

        Cannont Connect to vsphere Web Client administration tool.

      • December 15, 2012 at 9:12 am

        The process here is unlikely to work with 5.1 due to the changes in that release. You should follow the product documentation and also the SSL process.

  1. November 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm
  2. November 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm
  3. November 23, 2011 at 1:11 am
  4. February 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm

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