Resolving the "host is not communicating for more than 15 seconds" error when connecting to a vSphere 6.0 appliance with WinSCP

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If you’ve set up a vCenter 6.0 appliance or a Platform Services Controller and tried to connect via WinSCP, you will have noticed the following error: test3

Host is not communicating for more than 15 seconds. Still waiting…

error message

This error arises because vSphere 6.0 appliances now come with two shells: the appliance shell (which is the default shell for the root user), and the BASH shell.  WinSCP throws the above error when the root user is configured to use the appliance shell.  The error is easily resolved by configuring the root user to use the BASH shell.

To do so, connect to the appliance via SSH or the console and enter the following commands:

1shell.set --enabled true
3chsh -s /bin/bash root

Problem solved!

After you’ve done what you need to do with WinSCP you can change the default shell back easily enough using the command below, however I’m not aware of any downside for leaving it set to the BASH shell (and the upside is you won’t need to manually change the shell every time you want to connect with WinSCP).

1chsh -s /bin/appliancesh root

VMware published a KB article KB 2100508 in March 2015 on the subject, but if you’re seeing this error for the first time chances are you have no idea what the root cause is, so good luck finding the solution through google.  Hopefully this helps!

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