Starting with FortiOS 7.2.1, Fortinet removed built-in 15 days free evaluation license from the Fortigate VM images. It was replaced with the permanent evaluation license, still free. The steps to get it have changed - you now have to create a free Forticare/FortiCloud account, and use it inside the Fortigate GUI to activate this evaluation license. The license will be generated and added to your Forticloud account automatically.
Unfortunately, there are new limitations as well:
Security Rules: the limit is 3, instead of 5.
Number of routes: the limit is also 3, while was unlimited before. This means severe limiting of dynamic protocols labs like OSPF/BGP. Currently (FortiOS 7.2.1) , though, there is no actual enforcement of this limit - I configured BGP and few static routes, 6 all in all, and it worked without any issue.
Number of interfaces: maximum 3, was unlimited. This counts also interfaces that are in state disabled/down. And on top of it, it also counts Loopback interfaces as well.
One license per one FortiCloud account: this means that to have multiple evaluation licenses for multiple Fortigates, we need to create multiple FortiCloud accounts, nuisance but doable. The accounts are still free of charge.
The rest of limitations: additional limitations (CPU/Memory/etc.) that were present in 15 days license, are still enforced as well. See the reference at the bottom for details.
Internet access: Fortigate VM has to have Internet access to activate the license. The alternative is having Fortimanager to do so.
Now, to the visual guide of how to issue this free evaluation license for your virtual Fortigate.
BTW: The only addition (and not subtraction) in this new evaluation licensing is that we can now access management web GUI of the Fortigate via regular https not only http as before.
First, download VM image for your virtualization platform, as usual:
Then install it as before. I did it in the VMWare Workstation here. On the 1st
boot we can see that the license status is
Next step is to login to the Fortigate GUI. We will be presented with this page, where we can enter the Forticare/FortiCloud account. The account does not have to be a paying account, the free account is enough.
Upon clicking OK, the Fortigate will contact Fortiguard servers, and will issue itself a license automatically. Here is the license status after the successful activation:
Older, before FortiOS 7.2.1, versions still come with the 15 days evaluation license. You can read more on this at https://yurisk.info/2021/02/28/fortigate-vm-evaluation-license-15-days-limitations/
The download URL as well as the process did not change, the video walkthrough of downloading free VM Fortigate image can be found here: https://yurisk.info/2022/04/13/where-to-download-fortigate-free-trial-vm/