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VMware ESXi Available For Free Starting Today 241

Mierdaan writes "VMware's bare-metal hypervisor is available for free starting today. ESXi, which can either be installed or run from an embedded device available in certain servers, has a 32MB footprint and gives small businesses an easy way to get into the virtualization world, with easy upgrade paths to enterprise-level features such as (H)igh (A)vailability and (D)istributed (R)esource (S)cheduler. ESXi runs on most any hardware with a server-class disk controller, and previously retailed for $495. VMware is obviously shooting to prevent Microsoft's Hyper-V technology from gaining a foothold in the marketplace."
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VMware ESXi Available For Free Starting Today

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  • more info. (Score:5, Informative)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:52PM (#24372933) Homepage Journal

    This zdnet blogger [] already gave it a spin on some commodity-like hardware (which it seems to me there might be a few here who will be so inclined) and has a nice write-up of the results as well as some good tips on how to avoid some trouble spots for those not fortunate enough to be putting this on enterprise level hardware.
    Downloading the ISO does require creating an account with a ton of required fields - so there are a few minutes of typing involved. There is also the usual eula to agree too, which I need to go over before I do anything with the disc image I've downloaded.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:54PM (#24372959)

      Virtuall first post

    • by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:14PM (#24373265)
      Pfft, don't lie to us, you're not going to read the EULA.
      • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:24PM (#24373415) Journal

        Well, he could have insomnia.

      • Re:more info. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:11PM (#24374179)

        "3.9 Audit Rights. You will maintain accurate records as to your use of the Software as authorized by this Agreement, for at least two (2) years from the last day on which support and subscription services ("Services") expired for the applicable Software. VMware, or persons designated by VMware, will, at any time during the period when you are obliged to maintain such records, be entitled to inspect such records and your computing devices, in order to verify that the Software is used by you in accordance with the terms of this Agreement..."

        No wonder no one wants to read the EULA.

        They don't want the VMware SWAT team busting in on them to see if they're using free software in accordance with the license.

        • Re:more info. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CrazedWalrus ( 901897 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:19PM (#24374299) Journal

          I saw this too. The way I understand it (and I'm no lawyer, but...), I am not buying support or subscription, so I'm not obligated to keep records. This seems like a piece of boilerplate that doesn't really apply to a free eval version. Is there a different way to read that that I'm missing?

          • By installing software from this company you acknowledge you understand that we're a 90% owned subsidiary of EMC, a BSA [] member company [] and our auditors can come in to bankrupt you at any time if you can't prove on the spot [] that the license is valid."

            Is there anything else you need to know about this? Really?

        • Re:more info. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mrsteveman1 ( 1010381 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:54PM (#24374851)

          That's completely ridiculous, the EULA demands are getting unreasonable

          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 )

            Any and all disparaging comments about the EULA, as per the terms of this Software Agreement, shall be kept for a minimum of at least two (2) milennia from the last day on which our Lord and Saviour ("Yahweh") expired for the applicable sins of mankind. VMware, or deities designated by VMware, will, at any time during the period when you are obliged to maintain such records, be entitled to inspect such records and your immortal soul, in order to verify that the darkest pits of the eternal pit of damnation a

        • Exactly what support and subscription services do you think you get for a free download? The answer being NONE, this paragraph is irrelevant.

    • Commodity hardware (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joe_n_bloe ( 244407 )

      ESXi and for that matter ESX will run on a variety of non qualified hardware. (Unsupported of course.) It will be interesting to see what kind of compatibility list people are able to come up with. It can't be worse than, say, the early days of Linux and 802.11 ....

  • by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:54PM (#24372957) Journal
    Oh, this is going to be fun, I can hardly wait! BTW the download link in TFA appears to be broken, you can get it here [].
    • by BrentH ( 1154987 )
      What I want to know is: can I use this, as a home user, use this to run Windows and Linux at the same time, /and/ play games (at full throttle) in Windows? Because I'd love to be able to run Linux full time and only load up Windows for the occasional game (without leaving Linux).
      • DirectX is your foe, and I too am waiting for something like this to work.

        In the meantime, you really really really want to look at wine. That'll be your best bet for a quick way to do this. The only telling question is what sort of games are you wanting to switch over to WindowsXP to play in the first place? StarCraft, sure, Crysis, not.

  • awesome... (Score:4, Informative)

    by teknopurge ( 199509 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @02:56PM (#24373003) Homepage

    In our testing VMWare is by far the best performing VM platform out there, especially on the networking benchmarks. This is nothing but a good thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wandazulu ( 265281 )

      Agreed. VMware has Microsoft totally beat in terms of what you can do with virtualization. I was able to set up an environment of clustered machines for testing an Exchange Active-Active cluster and it worked flawlessly (though it did require some fiddling with the vmx files). I asked a Microsoft guy about doing something similar and they said that it wasn't possible. Frankly, VirtualPC is a joke (no unlimited snapshots? No private LAN segments? No thanks.) and without the flexibility of their server produc

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Uhm, HyperV is not VirtualPC - its completely different (although it can use VirtualPC and VirtualServer images if you really want it to).

        HyperV does have multiple LAN segments (with the ability to setup routing between as required) and unlimited snapshots are available as standard, to respond to both your issues.
        • Re:awesome... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mitgib ( 1156957 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:56PM (#24373951) Homepage Journal

          HyperV is also Xen aware. I played with it for a short period when RC1 was released, but was totally dissatisfied with it. I don't think VMWare has much to worry about as HyperV was not ready for production in my opinion at the time.

          I was able to install Xen kernels in Fedora and CentOS without a problem in HyperV, but could not for the life of me get w2k3 or w2k8 to install, while both install without issue in my Xen cluster. Virtual Server 2005 was a far better product from Microsoft, but still way lacking as it required windows as the base OS.

          Another lacking part I found with HyperV was poor ethernet support for *nix, limited to a realtech driver at 100Mbit. I really don't think enterprise clients will adopt HyperV for the one main reason of support though, it only officially supports SUSE, and if big enterprise clients can not purchase support for other linux distro's, they are not going to waste their time on Microsofts product.

          • I currently have HyperV running on a Dell Vostro 200 (Core 2 Duo E8300, 4GB ram), with 3 Windows 2008 and one Windows 2003 VM running full time (and under load).

            I will agree that the RCs were pigs, and Windows 2008 RTM did not include the final version of HyperV - if you grabbed the right update, it worked peachly however.

            HyperV RTM was released a few weeks back, and was a simple update through Windows Update - it works a *lot* better than the RCs, and has sped things up as well.
    • by Znork ( 31774 )

      What platforms did you test, and with what virtualized OS's? I've run some fairly comprehensive tests, but comparing ESX with paravirtualized Xen, Xen tends to perform as well on most benchmarks and significantly better on some (as expected, IO, system related and SMP scaling).

      On fully virtual systems ESX is without a doubt the way to go tho.

      • xen doesn't have virtualised DMA so it's all software copy via qemu.. that means that ethernet and hard disk both bottlneck making the performance very substandard.. about 1% of VMWare on the same hardware.

        You can buy commercial drivers for it that speeds up the hard disk somewhat (nowhere near VMware speed though) but there seems to be nothing that stops the ethernet throughput sucking the bug one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    (H)igh (A)vailability and (D)istributed (R)esource (S)cheduler.

    And just in case you couldn't tell that we're spelling out an abbreviation, not only have we capitalized the letters, we've added parentheses around each one as well!

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:06PM (#24373149)

    Don't mind the $2500 per-physical-machine-maximum-2-cpus price tag on the version which actually lets you do stuff, like manage the machines, migrate them, share storage, etc.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bandman ( 86149 )

      This isn't a smart-assed comment, but what does this version do?

      I've got an enclosure of 10 PowerEdge 1955s that I have ~ 6months to play with until I need to make them production servers. I'm sorely tempted to use this, but I'm unfamiliar with the ESX product line. What does this ESXi do for me?

      • Replying to myself (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bandman ( 86149 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `namdnab'> on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:25PM (#24373417) Homepage

        I checked out the datasheet here [](PDF), and ESXi is just the small-footprint operating system on-top of which you can run multiple virtual machines.

        So instead of having a fullblown Windows/Linux installation, you install this, and the smaller footprint leaves more resources for the guest OSes.

        Am I right? And what is the software that you need to manage ESXi?

        • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:34PM (#24373563) Homepage Journal
          You are right. The management software you want is Virtual Center (included as part of ESXi). The only thing you lack is the advanced management features such as automated high availability.
        • Am I right? And what is the software that you need to manage ESXi?

          Basicly, and it's called Virtual Infrastructure.

        • by Feyr ( 449684 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:00PM (#24374021) Journal

          their ESX software is an hypervisor that you must install directly on the hardware to start with. if you want to run linux/win under it, you need to get vmware server.

          ESXi seems to be ESX without the "service console" (a linux console that runs virtually that lets you manage stuff on the esx server)

          to manage it you need the VI client which you can download on their site. it's the same client for all of their software (except vmware server, because it sucks)

          VI client is, sadly, windows only

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by martums ( 306333 )

            their ESX software is an hypervisor that you must install directly on the hardware to start with. if you want to run linux/win under it, you need to get vmware server.

            I disagree with the last part of what you said. The VMware Server product will let you run one or more virtual machines on top of Linux or Windows. ESXi has no underlying host OS, and is (supposed to be) a bare metal hypervisor, (god, I hate that word), allowing you to run one or more virtual machines on the bare metal, using only the hypervisor, (Without Windows or Linux booting first. The ongoing debate of whether ESX or ESXi leverages any *nix is not for me to engage in). VMware Server is a completel

          • VI Client works fine in a Windows VM though.

      • by hal9000(jr) ( 316943 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:37PM (#24373611)
        You can find a FAQ [].

        I haven't looked at ESXi in depth. The biggest missing component I see is the lack of a service console--no command line. I have a few Dell 2550(?) that for some reason have CDrom issues that I need console access for.

        It looks like you have plenty of time to install ESXi and play with it. As long as your virtual servers aren't resource hogs, you can save bundles in hardware. If you step up to ESX and Virtual Ifrastructure, you can manage all your VM's through a single server. You can move, with VMotion VM's from one hypervisor to another (running, if they are using the same SAN), take snapshots (and restore!) of running machines live. virtualizaiton makes your life so much easier.

        Guess I am a bit of a fan-boi.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 )

        This isn't a smart-assed comment, but what does this version do?

        I've got an enclosure of 10 PowerEdge 1955s that I have ~ 6months to play with until I need to make them production servers. I'm sorely tempted to use this, but I'm unfamiliar with the ESX product line. What does this ESXi do for me?

        Not sure I follow you.

        Virtualisation is very well covered in Wikipedia [] and I won't waste time explaining it again now.

        This offers a few features which are absent from VMWare Server:

        1. Runs directly on bare metal. So you have to dedicate less disk space to a full-blown OS.
        2. Should perform better.
        3. Easy upgrade path to the paid version. The paid version is where things get really interesting - for instance, you can set up high-availability on a per-VM basis, effectively bringing HA to applications whic

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And well worth it, I might add. It is a proven enterprise level technology and it really will save you money right out of the gate. I'm running 20 Windows Server 2003 boxen on a single HP DL385 G3 with 2 AMD 2218's and 16GB RAM, and I'm still only running at about 60-70% utilization.

      For the standard version of Virtual Infrastructure you're going to spend around $2500-$6000, plus around $5000-$10000 for 1 or 2 servers to run it.

      Again, worth it.

    • As a VMware stock holder, that sounds fine with me.

    • by JayGuerette ( 457133 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:37PM (#24373609)

      Don't mind the $2500 per-physical-machine-maximum-2-cpus price tag on the version which actually lets you do stuff, like manage the machines, migrate them, share storage, etc.

      When you're running 10-20 virtual servers on a single ESX host and look at the hardware cost, space & resource consumption, and management costs of 10-20 physical servers.... this suddenly looks cheap. We're running 100+ ESX hosts... this is an *extremely* cost-effective solution.

    • If the software doesn't suit you as a solution, don't complain about it, use something else.

      This new free solution is perfect for me, as I've got enterprise level stuff running virtualization with Workstation. Nobody is debating whether this is a tool to getting you stuck with VMware, because it most certainly is.
    • If you don't mind rolling your own you can do a whole bunch of management via the VI API using, for example, Perl Toolkit. It's not necessarily simple but, hey, once you've written it, share it with other folks.

      The enterprise-level management tools are necessary for complex setups but for smaller applications you are able to do a lot on your own. A whole lot! In addition to the obvious stuff like VM operations, you could probably do a clone, perhaps in a limited way, by copying and moving files in the datas

  • by PingXao ( 153057 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:48PM (#24373795)

    That's been a showstopper standing between us and vmware forever. Maybe it is finally supported, but I RTFA, then I even went and RTFWS and I couldn't find any mention of Firewire or IEEE 1394 (a or b).

    • I am curious, what would you need firewire support for? Are you talking firewire for servers or workstations?
      • by mccabem ( 44513 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:14PM (#24374229)

        There is no Firewire for servers or workstations.

        There's just Firewire like there's just USB. He's talking about Firewire support in VMware like there's USB support in VMware.


    • Eric Heck told me to use redirectors to do USB and Firewire.

  • I can finally run my firewall/antivirus in a hypervisor so viruses won't detect that it's there? This could be a whole new level of security.
    • Er... if the virus is detecting your scanner, you've already lost the battle. Sure, the hypervisor would prevent the virus from having a sexy time with the scanner/firewall, but it will still infect everything else in the system.

      Far better to just run a dedicated box with the firewall and virus scanner, to properly isolate your workstations from the idiotnet.

    • Either you're trying to be funny (in which case I thought it was cute) or you really don't get how VMs work, eh?

      If it's the second, there's a whole lot of geek-reading you need to do about sandboxed machines versus sandboxed apps, ring0 versus the other rings, and more.

  • by J-F Mammet ( 769 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:52PM (#24374823) Homepage

    For my work we wanted to setup a HA cluster with 2 (or at worse 3) servers running both a Linux and Windows environment for some DRM stuff. So after years of just toying with VMWare server and simple VMs like that, I finally jumped into the wonderful world of hypervisors.
    I of course first tried the open source solutions, and boy was that a nightmare. First Xen, on a DRBD+OCFS2+Heartbeat environment. Never managed to get it to be stable, got either kernel panic from OCFS after some time, or the servers would hang when doing live migrations. Also tried the iSCSI way, and still no way to stabilize the thing.
    Then since I though the issue was with the only officially supported Xen kernel (2.6.18) I tried KVM since it's integrated into the mainline kernel. Well surprise, I got more or less the exact same result. Kernel panic when trying the migrate a VM...
    So I gave ESX a try, not really believing it would be any better. Well, it actually works, but while it was easier to set up than KVM/Xen for HA and stuff like that, it sure wasn't trivial either. I spent a lot of time on google researching the various issues I was having (who would think that you HAVE to use the names of the machines and not their IPs when setting up the HA stuff?), but at least I got it to work. The accounting people sure aren't happy with it though...

    • simplicity (Score:2, Informative)

      by dgym ( 584252 )
      There are many setups that should work, but don't. I have used the following extensively, and in production, so maybe it can help.

      On each node I setup LVM, from which I can allocate logical volumes for the guests (e.g. guest 1 gets /dev/guests/1 on both machines).

      I then use DRBD to mirror the logical volumes, so yes, there can be quite a lot of DRBD devices - one per guest.

      For OpenVZ the DRBDs get ext3 (so quota works) and it is mounted on the node running the guest. This doesn't support live migra
  • OK, I've RTFA. I've read the current comments here as far as they go when I start to write this. I'm still lacking understanding of what this is.

    I've been using the free VMware player on-and-off for personal use. It works pretty well for what I've done with it (although sometimes the virtual machines get in a state where they refuse to start and I have to revert to a backup copy). I'm not able to find from the article or discussion here just what this brings to the table (or doesn't bring to the table) tha

  • Let's face it, if you want to use ESX in a real production environment the cost has dropped only a little

    R900 for virtualization [] is still $8,854 after instant savings.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford