Reset ESXi 6.5 evaluation

 In Software, VMware, vSphere basics

Sometimes you need to run your ESXi server in evaluation mode for longer time then standard 60 days. It might be because of extensive testing or your project gets into the delays.

Fortunately, there is a way how to reset the license back to day 0 without losing the configuration and existing virtual machines.

Whole procedure is absolutely safe, even your running virtual machines will be kept up and running. Only behavior that you will observer is that you will lose management connectivity to your ESXi server for several seconds because of restarting management agents on the host.

First, we need to remove existing license

rm -r /etc/vmware/license.cfg

In the next step, we will upload fresh evaluation license that is already included in the host itself

cp /etc/vmware/.#license.cfg /etc/vmware/license.cfg

And lastly, we need to restart management agents

/etc/init.d/vpxa restart

And that’s it. Your host is back with fresh evaluation license and you have another 60 days of testing.

You can also automate this procedure and create single shell script that will be executed by CRON every 59 days so you will never run out of the trial period.

Please be aware that this approach is only for evaluation purposes. You should always properly license your hosts when running production environment!

If you are thinking about tuning long-term LAB environment you might be also interested in VMUG Advantage program which gives you access to several licenses including VMware vSphere, vSAN or NSX for yearly fee of 200$ which is really cost-effective solution without additional hacks like this one.

Showing 9 comments
  • Austin Hauer

    Thank you so much!

  • Anonymous

    Will this work for the vcenter server too?

    • Martin Gavanda

      Unfortunately not. I am not aware of any method how to reset evaluation for vCenter server.

  • Gee

    Hi I”m new to Linux so bear with me. How do I get ESX 6.5 to boot to a shell or command prompt so I can run these commands? I have ESX installed on the actual box so when I boot the box it boots up ESX 6.5. I don’t see a way to get to a shell.

    • Martin Gavanda

      Hi, there are two options

      1) Enable SSH from DCUI -> Troubleshooting Mode Options -> Enable SSH
      Then use standard ssh client to connect to ESXi ssh root@ESXIIP

      2) From DCUI press Alt+F1 to enter into local shell
      Then Alt+F2 to get back to DCUI

  • Garrett

    Thank you!
    I had seen a similar post elsewhere, but I did not know about VMUG.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent , This is working

  • RAE245

    I used the steps and eventually it worked. However, it didn’t work immediately for me. After completing the steps I rebooted the server at least 3x’s. And it said that the expiration was 60 days out but my VM’s still wouldn’t power on with the error that the license was expired. That was on a Friday of a 3 day weekend. I went back at it on Tuesday and the VM’s were not powering on with the same license error. I rebooted again a few times and viola! It started working. Did anyone else have similar experiences?

  • Anonymous

    how reset for vCnter 6.5?

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