The license: a stab in the dark


I'd like to complain. I deployed an ELK stack and set up a Filebeat client. Then I happily tested for a month, until totally unexpected got a 'license expired' message. What the hell. I mean ,guys, why is it that not one damn manual mentioned that something like that even existed? Why no a warning message appeared in Kibana?

It's fine since it was a testing machine. Imagine, if it was a production environment.

Yeag, somewhere it was stated that warning messages appears in a log, but do you seriously expect me filtrating hundreds strings of the log?

Hi Nikita,

I'm sorry to hear you were surprised by the way licensing works for X-Pack. Just to make sure it's clear, Elasticsearch, Logstash, Beats, and Kibana are all open source and do not require any kind of licensing (other than the Apache 2 license, but that's a different sort of license than we're talking about here). X-Pack is a "pack", which is a plugin for Elasticsearch and Kibana (and soon other parts of the stack) that contains additional features, like security, monitoring, alerting, graph, and reporting. X-Pack features are available based on your license level - most monitoring features are available with a free basic license, for example. You can see the details about X-Pack license levels here:

You should only get the license expired message if you are using X-Pack, so it must have been installed at some point, either manually, or some other mechanism. Can you help me understand how you installed the Elastic Stack?

You bring up a very good point about being more proactive with the notifications of upcoming license expiration. Today, we show this information at the top of the Monitoring Cluster Overview screen, which you can click to see more details, including a link to the subscriptions page above. But we are planning to do more, as you suggest - we're currently planning to add a "toast notification" to notify you when you are within 7 days of license expiration, and will also be adding license management capabilities to the Management section of Kibana, and though I don't yet have an estimated timeframe for those to be released, it's clear they're important. We don't want folks to be surprised by licensing!

Thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback, it's much appreciated. If you'd like to talk or exchange direct email, feel free to reach out to me directly at my username



Hi, Steve!

Well, I actually used several different manuals from the site. Ones of them:

  1. Installing the Elastic Stack | Installation and Upgrade Guide [7.15] | Elastic
  2. Installing X-Pack | X-Pack for the Elastic Stack [5.1] | Elastic

As you can see there're no any words about the license. So one'd think it's all free (because the ELK's free too, right?). It'd be great to have some warning on these pages.

That certainly'd be great. Maybe it's good to consider having a user explicitly accept the license terms when installing X-pack? Or for the license after expiring just automatically activating the basic mode?

How to get the basic license?

As a side note, as long as the exact license terms and conditions are not being made available to a customer before payment, the license is considered invalid, at least in Germany. I did not try x-pack and do not know if an end-user-license-agreement text is being displayed in the product startup screen to get accepted (it seems not, like @Gamer explained). So it may be worth to check under what jurisdictions the x-pack license is valid if it is not presented to the customer for acceptance. See also "culpa in contrahendo"

Ha-ha. Well, when the license expires, the stack just refuses to work, without regarding the jurisdictions. Excellent, right?

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