VMWare Lab Manager trial and ESXi 4.0 free

Update: The problem I describe below is because I’ve had my ESXi installed longer than 60 days it is licensed as an ESXi Single Server (free).   If you install ESXi initially you can run it for 60 days in Evaluation Mode.  You can use an ESXi server in Evaluation Mode  fine in Lab Manager.

My home lab runs ESXi 4.0.   In a home lab, the only thing I really miss about not having vCenter (Virtual Center) is templates.   But I really can’t complain too much, I get an awful lot of functionality from ESXi without paying a dime.

The other day I decided I wanted to install a trial of Lab Manager. I used Lab Manager 2.5 in a previous position and at work we are soon going to have at least a 3.0 Lab Manager installed. It’s a really cool product and I wanted to try out driving some automation using Lab Manager APIs. Having the lab at home allows me do these kinds of things without bothering the admins in the office. When I do finally bother them, I’ll have a better picture to give them.

For the trial, I created two new Win2k3 VMs.  1 for vServer and 1 for Lab Manager.   VMWare has made it incredibly easy to install these products.  vServer comes with SQL Server Express and installs by default.  In a real environment you would likely opt to install on a physical machine with a full fledged SQL Server instance, but for testing SQL Express is fine.   With just a few clicks vServer was installed.  No issues adding my ESXi to it.   Next I installed Lab Manager into the other VM.  Easy as pie… Almost.

You cannot add a template because you do not have any enabled hosts available.

The above error message is what I got when I went to create a new template in Lab Manager.

Going to Resources -> Hosts I see a big red X in the Ready column and a message that said Error in Preparing.

Here is the detail from Error in Preparing:

vCenter Lab Manager does not support the license edition of this host "esxi.mydomain.com".
 Upgrade your host license through vCenter and try again.

After trying a few things I contacted someone at VMWare.  My contact said I can’t use ESXi free to trial Lab Manager and I should install an ESX trial.  Unfortunately my lab is populated and I’m not willing to migrate all my VMs for the trial.   A shame such a smooth process got wrinkled by this tiny detail.

Update: If you start with a fresh ESXi server licensed in evaluation mode you will not encounter the error above.  But if you have an existing ESXi server and it’s past the original evaluation you will not be able to use it for a new eval of Lab Manager.

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3 Responses to VMWare Lab Manager trial and ESXi 4.0 free

  1. Martin Klaus says:

    Please try the recently released version of VMware vCenter Lab Manager 4.0. Lab Manager 4 supports both ESX and ESXi editions of VMware vSphere.

  2. wolf says:

    @Martin Klaus
    Hi Martin, I am using LM 4. After more discussion with my VMWare contact, we figured out that the reason it was not working was due to the fact my ESXi server was past the original evaluation. I have updated my original post to clarify this information.

  3. Serge says:

    Hello Martin
    Sorry about digging up a 2yr old issue.
    Did you ever manage to work around it? I’m in the exact same situation I think although the ESX host has a license key (non-evaluation).

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