Who built ESXI version 5 5

ESXi 7.0 Free: New features, restrictions, upgrade

At the same time as vSphere 7.0, VMware released the hypervisor contained therein in a free version, as usual. The most important changes concern hardware support and the layout of the ESXi drive. The limitations of the free variant remain unchanged compared to the previous version.

The innovations of the large platforms for x86 virtualization affect less and less the hypervisor, but rather management functions or, most recently with vSphere 7, support for containers. The technical advances in the free ESXi are correspondingly meager.

Same configuration maximums as ESXi 6.7

One area where vSphere Hypervisor has benefited from improvements to the paid product in the past has been its increasing scalability. However, a comparison of the configuration maximums of ESXi 6.7 and ESXi 7.0 shows that there were no changes here.

With vSphere 7, support for NVMe over Fiber Channel and NVMe over RDMA was added. This technology should also be available in the free version, even if VMware does not officially document this anywhere.

No more support for older CPUs

ESXi 7.0 not only brings new hardware into play, but also removes older products from the compatibility list. In the case of CPUs, this applies to the Intel Family 6, Model = 2C (Westmere-EP) and Intel Family 6, Model = 2F (Westmere-EX), which came onto the market 10 years ago.

With the following processors of the Sandy Bridge family, the ESXi setup already issues a warning that they will no longer be supported in the future.

If you still use such hardware in your lab, you can still install ESXi 7 on it. Via the boot option

the corresponding message can be bypassed in the setup or during the subsequent start-up.

Community driver for Intel E1000

The still widespread Intel E1000 NIC causes problems during installation. For example, ESXi 7 apparently cannot find this network adapter on Intel NUC computers. In the meantime there is an updated driver that is available as a VIB and that you have to integrate yourself into the installation medium.

This problem is also encountered if you want to update an older version of the hypervisor with ESXi 7 in a virtual machine of the VMware workstation. There ESXi 6.x typically uses a vNIC of the type E1000, which is why the upgrade to version 7 fails.

With virtual hardware, however, you can get around quite easily by exchanging it for another. In this case the one changes in the VMX file of the VM


Nested hypervisor appliance

Speaking of nested virtualization: If you want to install ESXi 7 in a virtual machine, the VMware blogger William Lam also provides a nested ESXi virtual appliance for the latest version. This accelerates the setting up of a virtual vSphere environment on an ESXi host.

One innovation that can only be discovered by looking under the hood is the changed layout of the ESXi 7 boot drive. VMware is satisfied with just 4 partitions.

The boot medium for USB or SD devices must be at least 8GB, for HDDs or flash drives the minimum size is 32GB. If it is larger than 128GB, the setup automatically creates a VMFS datastore.

Management via host client

The web console has been part of the scope of delivery of the hypervisor since ESXi 6.0 Update 1 and is therefore immediately after installation under the URL according to the pattern

https: // hostname-or-ip-of-ESXi / ui


Most of the tasks for the configuration and operation of the host and the virtual machines can be carried out from there. However, some activities have to be carried out via the ESXi console (DCUI) or the shell, such as adjusting the basic network settings such as DNS server or host name.

This web GUI is also used to enter the license key that you received when you downloaded the ISO file. The relevant option can be found atHost => Manage => Licensing => Assign license.

Limitations of ESXi 7.0 Free

As with free editions of software in general, the free ESXi is also a functionally stripped-down product. One of the biggest restrictions from the start has been that it cannot be managed via vCenter and therefore each host has to be administered individually. Accordingly, there is also a lack of the possibility of forming a cluster and the associated features such as HA or DRS.

In addition, the vStorage API is not available, so that virtual machines cannot be backed up with the backup programs available on the market.

In terms of hardware support, there are no restrictions on the number of CPUs or the amount of RAM. Up to version 6.7 there was also no limit to the number of cores per processor.

After VMware recently introduced a limit of 32 cores per CPUs for the paid version, this should also apply to ESXi Free. In VMs, the upper limit of 8 vCPUs remains.

These restrictions only take effect after entering the license key for the free version. However, there is no need to rush in lab environments because the vSphere Hypervisor runs in evaluation mode for 60 days after installation.

In this phase all functions of the Enterprise Plus Edition are available. The free license, on the other hand, is permanent and has no expiration date.