Getting started with the vCSA 6.x – Part 1

The vCenter Server Appliance is the new vCenter Server. In the old days, we had a brand new Windows Server on which the vCenter Server was installed. The necessary database server was quite often an external MS SQL database and sometimes an internal database. In the those days, tweaking the Windows Server and the installed components was more or less a common practice, due to the familiarity with Windows.

But now the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) is the new and preferred standard. The vCSA comes as a virtual appliance and is ready to run within minutes compared to the old vCenter Server. Although a (virtual) appliance still means; (virtual) hardware, an operating system, middleware and applications, VMware likes to treat the vCSA as a “black box”. Like most appliances, the operating system is a Linux flavor and you can log in. After a successful log in, you will encounter the first discouragement; you are not welcomed by a Bash shell but with the default “Appliance Shell”. For more information read my post on the vCSA shells.
In this post, a brief introduction on the following topics; Appliance shell, File system and the Services.

Appliance shell

From the “Appliance Shell” you can access the vCenter Server Appliance API commands and Plug-ins.

Tip: use the [Tab] key for auto completion.

For an overview of available API commands, run this:

Command> help api list

All output starts with “com.vmware.appliance.version1.”, like “com.vmware.appliance.version1.ntp.get”. However the following command will show the NTP status and NTP servers:

Command> ntp.get

For help on a particular command, run:

Command> help api <api_name>
Command> help api ntp.get

For an overview of available Plug-ins, run this command:

Command> help pi list

Here all output starts with “com.vmware.”, like “”. Enter just the following command to get an overview of running processes:

Command> ps

The following command will show additional help:

Command> ps –help

Have a look at the other available commands. See also VMware Docs and more.

You can switch to the bash shell by enabling and launching the shell.


Did you ever watched the properties of the vCSA VM Properties and wondered about the large number (at least 11) virtual disks? While in the Bash shell, the following command shows some insight what happened to those disks:

# df –h

There are a few differences between the output of this command on a vCSA 6.0 or 6.5 appliance. The most complete overview is on vCSA 6.5. It will look something like this:

Filesystem                                Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
devtmpfs                                  4.9G     0  4.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs                                     4.9G  8.0K  4.9G   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs                                     4.9G  704K  4.9G   1% /run
tmpfs                                     4.9G     0  4.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/sda3                                  11G  3.8G  6.3G  38% /
tmpfs                                     4.9G  1.0M  4.9G   1% /tmp
/dev/mapper/netdump_vg-netdump            985M  1.3M  932M   1% /storage/netdump
/dev/mapper/dblog_vg-dblog                 15G  102M   14G   1% /storage/dblog
/dev/mapper/log_vg-log                    9.8G  197M  9.1G   3% /storage/log
/dev/mapper/core_vg-core                   25G   45M   24G   1% /storage/core
/dev/mapper/db_vg-db                      9.8G  101M  9.2G   2% /storage/db
/dev/mapper/autodeploy_vg-autodeploy      9.8G   23M  9.2G   1% /storage/autodeploy
/dev/mapper/seat_vg-seat                  9.8G   59M  9.2G   1% /storage/seat
/dev/mapper/imagebuilder_vg-imagebuilder  9.8G   23M  9.2G   1%
/dev/sda1                                 120M   28M   87M  24% /boot
/dev/mapper/updatemgr_vg-updatemgr         99G   64M   94G   1% /storage/updatemgr
root@vc01 [ ~ ]#

Sizes may vary, depending on the specification chosen during the deployment of the vCSA.
For a detailed overview how these disks are used, the purpose and instructions how to increase the disk size, see VMware KB “Increasing the disk space for the VMware vCenter Server Appliance in vSphere 6.0 (2126276)” and for the vCSA 6.5, see VMware KB “Increasing the disk space for the VMware vCenter Server Appliance in vSphere 6.5 (2145603)

More reading related to disk space:


As you probably do remember; the Windows vCenter Server showed under the Computer management “Services” section at least 10 vCenter Server related Services. How does the vCSA handle this?

To get an overview of all vCSA Services, run this command:

# service-control –list

On a vCSA this will return an overview of 29 Services and the description.

You can also get the status of those services with this command

# service-control –status

In the final part of the output the services are grouped by their status of Running or Stopped.

Figure 1

Using the “service-control” command, you can also start and stop all or individual services. For more information see VMware KB  “Stopping, starting, or restarting VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.x services (2109887)”.

BTW, the vSphere Web Client also has options for managing services under “Administration” \ “System Configuration”

In the next part, we will focus on the following topics; vCSA health, logging, database and extra tools.


One Response to Getting started with the vCSA 6.x – Part 1

  1. orion sune says:

    Great explanations for the potential “upgraders” from windows vcenter to the appliance vcenter. Looking forward to the remaining parts.

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