I recently had a need to deploy half a dozen or so vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) in my home lab and even though it is one of the easiest appliances to setup, going through the web management interface can still be time consuming. I was looking to see if there was a way to automate some of the configurations and while digging in some of the vCenter logs I came across /var/log/vmware/vpx/vpxd_cfg.log which provided the answer I was looking for.

If you watch the log as you configure the VCSA through the web management interface, you will see a series of commands calling /usr/sbin/vpxd_servicecfg. This utility is actually just a shell script wrapper for the configuration of vpxd (vCenter Server Daemon) and it’s respective services.

As you can see there is a warning message about the use of the tool, so I will also re-iterate with my own disclaimer:

Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only, this is not officially supported by VMware. Please test this in a development environment before using it on actual systems.

For my lab, this was exactly what I was looking for to quickly spin up VCSA and configure all the necessary services to start the vCenter Service. In my lab, I was able to get the VCSA booted up via DHCP and execute a simple shell script remotely via SSH to VCSA and then connect to vCenter Server after the process was completed.

Here is script with the minimal commands needed for running an embedded configuration:

To run the script remotely (you do not need to copy it to VCSA), use the following command:

# ssh root@[vcsa-ip] < configureVCSA.sh

The script accepts the EULA, configures the database as embedded configuration and then starts up the vCenter service. A return code is provided upon each command execution which has VC_CFG_RESULT=N where N can be 0 which is a successful execution and any other value means there is an error. To figure out what the code means, there is a section in the shell script that lists all the codes and their meaning. In general, you should be getting 0 for all commands

Here are some other useful commands that I tested with:

Configure Active Directory:

/usr/sbin/vpxd_servicecfg ad write [AD_USERNAME] [AD_PASSWORD] [AD_DOMAIN]


ensure vpxd has stopped

vpxd_servicecfg stop

re-init DB

vpxd_servicecfg db initialize

You can also configure an external database for vCenter, NIS directory service and even replace SSL certificates but I will leave that to the reader for some exploration.

2 thoughts on “Automating vCenter Server Appliance 5.0 (VCSA) Configurations

  1. William,

    How do I script a deployment of the VCSA 5 OVF and setup the Static IP, Gateway, DNS, password, etc all from a Windows batch file?

    I need to repetitively setup a series of VCSAs for classes.

    Currently, I manaully deploy from OVF, SSH in, change the password and then go through the text interface to do the Network settings. Thank you.

Thanks for the comment!