VMware ESXi 6.7 is an entirely free to use bare-metal hypervisor which includes powerful virtualization, networking, and storage capabilities.
ESXi is completely free to use, forever, with some limitations.
These limitations are as follows:
– No official support
– Free ESXi cannot be added to a vCenter Server
– Limited to 2 physical CPUs
– Maximum of 8 vCPUs per Virtual Machine
What does this mean? Well obviously you have no official support from VMware at all. I mean you’re not paying them. This doesn’t mean you won’t get help from elsewhere on the internet. There are heaps of guides available if you use your favourite search engine.
You cannot add free ESXi to a vCenter Server.
This may mean a little more than you think. This means you cannot use the typical vCenter applications to manage ESXi – it’s entirely controlled using the web client. This means that there is no native way to create clusters with ESXi free. Backing up your machines will also need to be done with a third party solution.
Lastly there are some physical limits on both your host and your Virtual Machines.
You cannot use more than two physical CPUs in the host.
This more than likely won’t affect you as the majority of server equipment max out at 2 physical CPUs anyway. If for whatever reason you have a more, this will affect you.
Each Virtual Machine can only have a maximum of 8 vCPUs
Now this isn’t as much of a con as you may initially believe. How many virtual machines do you run that actually use more than 8 vCPUs? I know personally I don’t run any at all. The most of my VMs are services using 2-4 cores at maximum, with the beefiest being 8 vCPU remote desktop servers for the heaviest of tasks.
Other than those limitations you’re good – each VM can have unlimited memory and disk space.
Registering and Downloading Free ESXi 6.7
Now although ESXi 6.7 is free to use, you will still need to obtain a free licence key via their website. You can follow the following steps if you require assistance.
- Navigate to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.7
- Create an account (or login if you already have one)
- Complete registration
- Obtain your ESXi 6.7 Licence key
- Download the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.7 – Binaries
- Either mount the ISO to a USB / CD or install via ILO / Remote Management Interface
- Install ESXi 6.7 and launch the web client when completed
- Assign the licence via (Host > Manage > Licence > Assign Licence