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Licensing the free edition of ESXi 3.5


This article provides steps to license and install the free edition of ESXi 3.5.


When you register to receive the ESXi Free Download, you receive a link to download your license and the software. Find the serial number to activate your license in Licensing Download Information.
If you do not have a serial number:
  1. Go to https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/?p=esxi&lp=1.
  2. Create a new VMware account:
    1. Enter your name and email address and click Continue.

      • You must use a valid email address.
      • If you have previously registered for the 60 day trial for this product, you must use a different email address to create the account.
    2. When you complete the registration form, click Register. 

      Note: Ensure all required fields (fields marked with a red asterisk) are populated.
  3. A confirmation email is sent to the address you provided. The email contains a link that you can use to confirm receipt and access your download.

    Note: If you do not receive the email with 5 minutes, check your SPAM blockers of email filters. To ensure that you receive the email, set your email filter to allow mail from the vmware.com and connect.vmware.comdomains.
To install ESXi 3.5:

Note: For more detailed instructions, see the
 Getting Started Guide and the Setup Guide .
  1. After you have your serial number, connect to your ESXi 3.5 host using VMware Infrastructure Client.

    Note: You can download the client installer from your ESXi 3.5 host by browsing to http://.
  2. Go to the Configuration tab and look for Licensed Features.

  3. Click Edit for License Source.
  4. In the License Sources window, select Use Serial Number. Enter the serial number and click OK.

  5. Click Edit for ESX Server Edition (see the figure in step 2).
  6. In the ESX Server Edition window, select ESX Server Standalone.
Note: The free serial number can be applied only to ESXi 3.5 Update 2 and later. Serial numbers used from earlier releases of ESXi 3.5 are still compatible. If the free serial number is used on earlier releases of ESXi 3.5, the following error message might appear, and the host is not licensed:

There are not enough licenses installed to perform the operation.

See the table below for a compatibility matrix:


Serial Number


ESXi 3.5 Update 1 and earlierPurchased Serial NumberSupported
ESXi 3.5 Update 1 and earlierFree Serial NumberNot supported
ESXi 3.5 Update 2 and laterPurchased Serial NumberSupported
ESXi 3.5 Update 2 and laterFree Serial NumberSupported

Based on VMware KB 1006481

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