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How do you open a VM console and use timeouts in vSphere Web Client?

By making small alterations and adjustments to the VM console, you can customize and optimize your vSphere 6 Web Client experience.

This is a common problem that can occur with the vSphere Web Client. You try to open a virtual machine console,...

but the console doesn't open, and you see an HTTP ERROR 404 suggesting a reason such as Not Found.

Why can't I open a virtual machine console from the vSphere 6 Web Client?

This kind of generic reason can be a bit misleading. If you check the log file for that error occurrence, you'll probably find a more specific cause such as Address already in use. Chances are that another program is conflicting with the VM console -- usually the conflicting program is using port 9443 which is the default port used by the Web Client VM console.

There are two ways to address this problem. First, you can isolate the conflicting program and change its HTML port number. Second, you can change the port number used by vSphere Web Client. As an example, open the webclient.properties file -- usually located in under Windows Server at C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\cfg\vsphere-client\ -- and add the line html.console.port=<port> where <port> is the new port number. If the line already exists, change the port number. As long as the new port number doesn't conflict with other software, the Web Client should be able to use the new port and open consoles normally. Administrators may need to restart the vSphere Web Client service once that change is made.

How can I configure a timeout value for vSphere 6 Web Client?

Timeouts are a simple and well-established security tactic that closes an established session after some idle period -- requiring the user to log in again to continue using the software. The vSphere 6 Web Client also uses a timeout value that will close the web session if the client is left idle too long. By default, the client's timeout is an extremely liberal 120 minutes, or two hours idle, but it is possible to adjust the client's timeout value. For example, some organizations may determine that 120 minutes is simply too long to leave a virtualization management tool idle, and reduce the timeout to a value better-suited to the organization's security requirements.

The timeout value is kept in the webclient.properties file -- usually located in Windows Server at C:\ProgramData\VMware\vCenterServer\cfg\vsphere-client. Open the file and edit the session.timeout=<value> entry where <value> is the new timeout in minutes. For example, to set a 30 minute timeout, edit the line so that it reads session.timeout=30. If you decide to disable the timeout -- where the Web Client session will never timeout -- use a zero or negative number.

Once the timeout value is edited, restart the vSphere Web Client service so that the new value will take effect.

Next Steps

Learning to work with the revamped vSphere Web Client

Say goodbye to the C# client with the vSphere HTML5 Web Client

VMware vSphere 6 brings major updates to Web Client

This was last published in June 2016

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