Reset ESXi 6.5 evaluation
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
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.