Chef licensed for only 25 nodes

as of now I have 70 nodes connected to the Chef server and the Chef Manage home page shows the following message: “This installation is managing 70 nodes, but is only licensed for 25. Please upgrade now to ensure proper licensing.”

In this report I’ve read that is only something related to the web interface and not to the Chef functionalities. However I’d like to remove this message. Is enough to configure the attribute license['nodes'] = 1000 in /etc/opscode/chef-server.rb file, execute chef-server-ctl reconfigure and chef-manage-ctl reconfigure in order to remove this message?


Hi Rosario,
We rely on the income from licensing our commercial products to enable us to continue working on the huge amount of open source software we continue to make available to our community, and the folk that answer support questions both here and in Slack.
Changing the value of the license nodes violates the license agreement of Chef Manage. If you’re interested in purchasing a license agreement, our sales staff can be reached via the form on
If you’re not using Manage, you should probably disable it.

Hi Thom,
first of all thanks for your reply. I know that incomes from licenses is very important (none works for no money). Anyway, my question is related to the fact that I’d rely just on the free Chef release (on-premise) with a number of nodes that is higher than 25 nodes. Apart from removing the message in Chef Manage, I guess that Chef works properly even without a license, which is instead related to the support provided by the Chef foundation, isn’t it?

Best regards,


You can either pay for licenses to continue using Manage (web GUI) or uninstall Chef Manage (and just use CLI which is free):

  1. Backup the Chef server data
  2. chef-manage-ctl cleanse
  3. Remove manage rpm/deb (either “rpm -e chef-manage” or “dpkg --remove chef-manage” depending on your OS)
  4. chef-server-ctl reconfigure


to be very clear: if you have Manage installed on a chef server that has more than 25 nodes registered, you need to pay for a license. We grant a trial license for 25 nodes, but it is not in any sense free.
If you wish to just use a chef server, you should remove Manage from it, using the instructions provided by Steve, above.

So this is a great conversation, as the options are not overly clear on the
Chef website on what you can and can’t do an what you should do to stay
within licensing.

e.g. is the compliance-server install free, or is it only trial and must
have a full automate license if using it ?

thank you for your responses. Now I have two further questions:

  1. which is the cost for Chef Manage and Chef Reporting features?
  2. which is the feature (I guess in Knife) to get similar information to Chef Manage?


If you want a GUI (at all) and/or Compliance, you need to pay for Chef Automate @$137/node:

That gets you “Visibility” (the GUI), Workflow and Compliance.

Chef Manage is deprecated.

Going to clarify a few things and answer a few of the questions from above:

It should be noted that Manage UI doesn’t have any features that cannot be accomplished from knife or chef-server-ctl. Checking out the documentation for knife would be the best bet to see what is available. ManageUI is just a visual representation of the chef-server data and it effectively acts as an API client to chef-server. It has no information of it’s own so to speak and is not necessary for running chef-server.

For any other commercial products, they are denoted as commercial on the documentation pages and when you actually go to download/install there is an MLSA (Master Services Licensing Agreement) you must acknowledge. I know folks often click through EULA’s like that but that actually includes the legal rules on use.

As stated, there is ONE license currently which gets you access to the entire suite of commercial products which includes: Automate (Visibility/Workflow), Compliance, any of the chef-server plugins (reporting, chef-sync, manageUI), and support. There is no way to buy individual products or components, especially given that eventually ManageUI and Reporting will cease to exist once they have been supplanted by other pieces of the Automate stack. All the OSS projects Chef supports or is connected to are nicely listed here As a rule of thumb, if the repo isn’t public for a thing it’s almost definitely not free or OSS. Also looking at our downloads page one can see that the downloads are broken up by OSS, Automate, and Premium (Legacy) and when clicking on download for non-OSS things you are prompted for information and as well as agreement to the Terms of Service and Master License Agreement.

Hope that clear it up some.

  • cheeseplus