When I am logged into the ESXi Shell, I often forget that history command is not implemented in ESXi which can be helpful when recalling the list of operations that had been executed in the past. I especially rely on the history command when I am tinkering around with things and once I am successful with the end result, I can easily go back and see the exact steps I took. Recently, I tried running history command only to be let down again as I forgot it was not implemented 🙁

I was thinking there had to be a way on ESXi and then it hit me! Starting with ESXi 5.1, all operations executed in ESXi Shell and Console were automatically logged to /var/log/shell.log. The information I was looking was there but instead of having to manually view the contents of the log, I could simply create an "alias" to  a history command which could display the last N-number of entries using the tail command.

Here is an example alias to "history" command to view the last 50 lines in /var/log/shell.log:

alias history="tail -50 /var/log/shell.log"

To make the alias permanent and persist across reboots, we just need to add the entry to /etc/profile.local

Now, I can run the history command on ESXi and get exactly what I want.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.29.41 PM
Note: Entries in /var/log/shell.log contain more operations executed by all users. You can further refine the aliased command to search only for the current user, such as the root account.

One thought on “Quick Tip - "poor mans" history command in ESXi

Thanks for the comment!