Free ESXi! Now With 8 GB Limit!

Update 9/8/11: Check out my guide for building/buying an inexpensive ESXi host

Update 8/4/11: Woohoo!  They’ve up’d it to 32 GB of vRAM allocation (and max 32 GB of physical RAM too).

Update 7/18/11: Yes, it’s true. Here is it in writing (last FAQ entry).

Wow, this keeps getting worse and worse.

Many techies such as myself have been running ESXi 4.1 in our home labs. The free license runs full blown ESXi with some limits, such as no vmotion, no HA, no vCenter integration, etc. It’s fine for a lab environment, and perfect for a home lab where I need to test a lot of systems.

I was about to publish an article called “So You Want To Build an ESXi System?” on how to build a cheap home system. (Hint: you could build a cheap home system for about $1,000 that had 24 GB of RAM and 4 cores.)

But now, there are reports that VMware has made the free version of vSphere 5 Hypervisor (essentially it’s ESXi 5.0 renamed) absolutely useless by limiting the total amount of RAM to 8 GB per host. I’ll say that again: You can only use total of 8 GB of RAM for all your VMs on a host, no matter how much RAM it has.

8 GB? Seriously?

The licensing change for the paid version was bad enough. We used to be able to increase RAM on our licensed ESX/ESXi hosts free to increase utilization.  The same went with the free version of EXSi. Below is a screenshot of my current ESXi license. I get up to 6 cores on one CPU (I have a quad-core Intel Core i7) and up to 256 GB of RAM (my host has 18 GB).

My current ESXi 4.1 free license: 256 GB limit and no more than 6 cores per CPU

Sure, 256 GB of RAM is a bit much. I’d accept a lot lower than that for a limit, I think even 32 GB would be reasonable (although it wouldn’t be reasonable for more than a few years).  I’d even accept the current core limit (or maybe bump it up to no more than 8?)  But 8 GB? That’s a useless home lab.

Look, VMware, I know you’re in it to make a buck. I don’t fault you for that. I like money too. I too have fantasies of swimming through a vault of gold like Scrouge McDuck.

Our mutual shared goal

If this  is true it’s a huge blow the VMware community, and given that the vRAM allocation for the lowest paid license is 24 GB, the 8 GB limit for free seems about right.

I’ve been a passionate advocate of VMware, I’m VCP4 certified, and I teach courses that involve virtualization. The only VM vendor out of my mouth for the most part has been VMware. You’ve treated the community well in the past, and we the nerd class and IT managers have rewarded you handsomely with server virtualization market dominance. A fantastic ecosystem has cropped up, and you could make a good living within the VMware world. The licensing moves challenge this. All that built-up good will? It’s quickly fading fast.

11 Responses to Free ESXi! Now With 8 GB Limit!

  1. Yeah, that’s a bit messed up and unfair. Getting a little greedy, VMware, are we? The free versions was a fabulous idea, to help foster uptake of their product. Unfortunately, this is almost a 180 on their community policies.

  2. Pingback: Yes, VMware’s License Change Is That Bad: It’s A Trap! | The Data Center Overlords

  3. Pingback: ESXi jetzt mit Speicherlimit | IT-Helden

  4. xtropx says:

    This is ridiculous. I am a student. ESXi free gives me the freedom to create an elaborate and valuable testing platform, without requiring me to shell out money that I do NOT have already. Now you are going to limit me to only a few VM’s a box? Who has 16 core servers as students? In the current world, if we do not like a product or service, even if it is free, we move to a better alternative. Why would Vmware care, they lose use of a free product? Well after a couple years of working with ESXi at home and ESX in the lab, I would recommend it, and my expertise would serve well in selling licenses. Now a I am not so sure. Your loss, Vmware.

  5. Pingback: Free ESXi 5 (vSphere 5 Hypervisor) Now With 32 GB | The Data Center Overlords

  6. Pingback: VMware Licensing: You Changed, VMware. You Used To Be Cool. | The Data Center Overlords

  7. harry says:

    Limit is 32 GB right now

  8. darkfader says:

    also very pissed off here, we’ll be forced to downgrade back to esx4 – how stupid is that?

    • tonybourke says:

      Keep in mind they’ve since updated their licensing since this article (see the update listed at the top), they’ve up’d the limit to 32 GB.

  9. Vinkel says:

    vmware are greedy marauders…
    smart people use Citrix or redHat

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