About licenses


A license is a usage agreement between you and a software vendor. To use licensed software provided by Google Cloud, you must have a license. For example, if you are running a licensed operating system (OS) on a Compute Engine virtual machine (VM) instance, you must have a license for that OS.

A user license is a license that you add to a VM when you upgrade a licensed OS or install licensed software. You are responsible for adding any required user licenses.

A license string is a resource that associates a usage agreement with a licensed OS, OS upgrade, or additional software. For a list of the license strings that are associated with each OS that is supported by Compute Engine, see Operating system details. To learn how to view and append license strings, see View and append license strings.

License types and pricing

Licenses on Compute Engine are one of the following types. For information about which license types apply to each OS version, see Operating system details.

Free licenses
No charge for usage.
On-demand/Pay-as-you-go (PAYG)
Google Cloud charges for usage. Cost varies depending on the OS. For more information, see pricing for premium images.
Bring your own license (BYOL)/Bring your own subscription (BYOS)

Google Cloud does not charge you because you have a previous agreement with the original OS vendor. If you have BYOL licenses for server or client versions of Windows, you must use sole-tenant nodes.

License strings for BYOL and BYOS end with byol or byos. If the license string does not end with byol or byos, the license is a free or on-demand/PAYG license. For more information about using BYOL and BYOS, contact your Google Cloud Technical Account Manager.

User license scenarios

The following list shows some examples of scenarios that require user licenses:

Append RHEL 6 ELS licenses
Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6 reached the end of maintenance on November 30, 2020, so further updates require upgrading and appending a user license for the RHEL 6 Extended Life Cycle Support (ELS) Add-On. For information about how to upgrade and append a user license, see Append RHEL 6 ELS licenses.
Upgrade from Ubuntu to Ubuntu Pro
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS reached the end of maintenance on April 21, 2021, so further updates require upgrading and appending a user license for Ubuntu Pro. For information about how to upgrade and append a user license, see Upgrade from Ubuntu to Ubuntu Pro.
Use SQL Server on Linux
You can install SQL Server on Linux VMs and use PAYG licenses. For more information, see Use SQL Server on Linux.

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