How to Download and Install RHEL 8 for Free

Chances are that you might have heard that RHEL 8 comes at a cost and because of that, you might have opted to go for CentOS 8 instead. The good news is that you can download RHEL 8 for free and enjoy free annual subscriptions at absolutely no cost! Cool right?

In this guide, you will learn how to download RHEL 8 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) for free, install it on your PC and later on enable free annual subscriptions.

Download RHEL 8 ISO for Free

To download the RHEL 8 ISO image at no cost at all, head over the Red Hat developer program and create an account. Fill in all the required details.

Create RedHat Account
Create RedHat Account

Once done, proceed over to the Red Hat Login page to complete your profile by providing other details such as your local address.

Update Red Hat Account
Update Red Hat Account

Thereafter, head out to the RHEL 8 download page and download the RHEL 8 ISO file for free. Once you have downloaded the ISO image, you can choose to create a bootable USB drive using Rufus or any other utility of your choice.

If you wish to install RHEL 8 on VirtualBox as I’ll demonstrate, an ISO image alone is enough.

Installing RHEL 8 on VirtualBox

1. Open your VirtualBox and click on the “New” icon. Assign a preferred name to your virtual machine and click “Next”.

Create New Virtual Machine
Create a New Virtual Machine

2. In the next step, allocate some memory for your virtual machine. In this case, I have chosen to assign a memory capacity of 2048 MB.

Set Memory for RHEL 8
Set Memory for RHEL 8

3. In the next window, select “Create a virtual hard disk now” and click “Create”.

Create Hard Disk for RHEL 8
Create Hard Disk for RHEL 8

4. Ensure that the Hard disk file type is set to VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) and click “Next”.

Create VirtualBox Disk Image
Create VirtualBox Disk Image

5. Next, select the ‘Dynamically allocated” option and click “Next”.

Set Storage for RHEL 8
Set Storage for RHEL 8

6. Then allocate some hard disk space for your virtual machine. In this example, I have chosen to assign 25.33 GB to my VM. Once done, click on the “Create” button.

Set Hard Disk Space for RHEL 8
Set Hard Disk Space for RHEL 8

7. The only thing remaining is to point the VM to the RHEL 8 ISO image. SO click on “Storage” –> “Controller: IDE” and click on the ‘empty’ disk and select your ISO image file.

Add RHEL 8 ISO Image
Add RHEL 8 ISO Image

8. When all’s done. Click on the “Ok” button and click on the “Start” button.

Start RHEL 8 VM
Start RHEL 8 VM

9. On the first screen after powering on the VM, the following options will be printed on the screen. Select the first option “Install Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.1.0”.

Select Install RHEL 8 from Grub Menu
Select Install RHEL 8 from Grub Menu

10. Thereafter you will observe some boot messages on the screen as RHEL 8 boots up.

RHEL 8 Booting
RHEL 8 Booting

11. Once the RHEL 8 is done with the booting process, the window below will prompt you to select the installation language. Select your preferred language and hit the “Continue” button.

Select RHEL 8 Installation Language
Select RHEL 8 Installation Language

12. A summary of all the critical components that need to be configured will be displayed as shown. Ensure you click on every one of them and tweak the settings according to your preferences.

RHEL 8 Installation Summary
RHEL 8 Installation Summary

13. Starting with the “Keyboard Layout”. By default, this is set to English (US) but you can add your preferred language by clicking on the ( + ) symbol below to add another language.

Select RHEL 8 Keyboard
Select RHEL 8 Keyboard

14. Next, click on the “Language Support” option and select your preferred language and click “Done”.

Select Additional Languages
Select Additional Languages

15. Be sure to adjust your ‘Time and date’ settings appropriately.

Select Time and Date
Select Time and Date

16. In the ‘Software selection’ option choose your preferred Base environment and click ‘Done’. In this case, I have chosen to go with the Workstation option which is quite okay for a desktop PC.

Select Workstation Installation
Select Workstation Installation

17. In the ‘Network and hostname’ section, turn on the toggle next to the network interface.

Enable Network in RHEL 8
Enable Network in RHEL 8

18. In the “Installation Destination’ select the hard drive that you’d want to install RHEL on and feel free to select either ‘Automatic’ or ‘Manual’ partitioning.

In this case, I will select the ‘Automatic’ partitioning option for the system to automatically partition the hard disk and save the changes. For a production server, however, you may be required to manually partition the hard drive to suit your preferences.

Select Automatic RHEL 8 Partitioning
Select Automatic RHEL 8 Partitioning

19. And lastly, in the ‘System Purpose’ setting, ensure that you select the ‘Development/Test’ option as the usage for your system and leave all the other entries unchanged. Then click ‘Done’.

Set RHEL 8 System Purpose
Set RHEL 8 System Purpose

20. With all the salient parameters, click on the “Begin Installation” button for the installation to commence. But while at it, you will be required to provide a root password and create a new user.

RHEL 8 Installation in Progress
RHEL 8 Installation in Progress

21. Click on the ‘Root Password’ tab and provide a strong password for the root user. Click ‘Done’ to save the changes.

Set Root Password for RHEL 8
Set Root Password for RHEL 8

22. Next, create a new user by specifying a username followed by the user’s password.

Create New RHEL 8 User
Create New RHEL 8 User

23. Once everything is set, the installer will begin to install RHEL 8. The installation process ensures that all the system packages and the grub bootloader are installed. Once the installation is complete, click on the ‘Reboot’ button to restart the system.

RHEL 8 Installation Complete
RHEL 8 Installation Complete

24. At this point, it is safe to remove your installation media, or in this case, unmount the ISO image file. During the reboot process, select the first grub entry and hit ENTER.

Select RHEL 8 from Grub
Select RHEL 8 from Grub

25. Upon rebooting, two things will be required of you, Firstly, you will be required to accept the License Agreement and later register your RHEL 8 system with Red Hat.

Accept RHEL 8 License Agreement
Accept RHEL 8 License Agreement

26. At this point, accepting the license agreement is what is crucial. The latter can be done later once we are done with the installation of the system. Therefore, click on “License Information” and check off the “I accept the License Agreement” checkbox and click “Done”.

View and Accept License Agreement
View and Accept License Agreement

27. Finally, click on the “Finish configuration” tab. The GNOME login screen will be displayed.

RHEL 8 Gnome Login
RHEL 8 Gnome Login

28. Log in with your username and password. This will usher you to the GNOME desktop environment as shown.

RHEL 8 Gnome Desktop
RHEL 8 Gnome Desktop

Registering RHEL 8 for RedHat Subscription Management

29. When you try updating your system packages on the terminal, you will encounter the error below. This implies that your system has not yet been registered.

$ sudo dnf update
RHEL 8 RedHat Subscription Management Error
RHEL 8 RedHat Subscription Management Error

30. A Red Hat subscription allows you to get the latest package & security updates and bug fixes as well.

To register your RHEL 8 system, run the command:

$ subscription-manager register --username your-redhat-developer-username --password your-redhat-password

31. Thereafter, execute the command below to enroll your RHEL system to a subscription.

$ subscription-manager attach --auto

32. If everything went according to plan, you should receive the notification as shown.

Installed Product Current Status:
Product Name: Red Hat Enterprise Linux for x86_64
Status: Subscribed
Register RHEL 8 for Redhat Subscription Management
Register RHEL 8 for Redhat Subscription Management

33. Once you’ve been subscribed, you can now proceed to update your system and install system packages.

$ sudo dnf update
Update RHEL 8 System
Update RHEL 8 System

Renewing the RHEL 8 Subscription

The trial period for RHEL 8 developer subscription lapses after 1 year. The good news is that you can readily renew your RHEL subscription for free after every year to continue enjoying your OS.

This concludes this topic on how to download RHEL 8 for free and install it. It’s our hope that you can now grab yourself a copy of RHEL 8, install it, and register it with RedHat in order to get the latest security and package updates and bug fixes.

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7 thoughts on “How to Download and Install RHEL 8 for Free”

  1. I’m studying for RHCE 8. Can I use the license as many times as I want on multiple VMs? I plan to build an Ansible control VM and several nodes and may break and rebuild my lab multiple times. Thanks for the useful tutorial.

    Reply
    • Hey, both are similar but CentOS is a community-based distro that is a free-replacement for RHEL. RHEL enjoys Enterprise support and is preferred in the production & enterprise environment. CentOS, on the other hand, lack enterprise support. Be advised that these two are RPM-based and execution of commands on the terminal is the same.

      Reply
  2. Thank you, this article is useful for me.

    “The good news is that you can readily renew your RHEL subscription for free after every year to continue enjoying your OS.” – how long can I renew this subscription? 2 years, 5 years, etc.

    What the purpose for Red Hat to allow us to download free and use their OS as this product is considered a commercial one? AFAIK, Red Hat allows us to download Redhat OS free for developers but I supposed this privilege for 1 year only.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hey Alexey, thank you for your feedback. On their developer website, they say that you can renew your developer subscription annual but as to how many times you can do that. I’m not sure. My assumption is you can continue to do so provided you are using the developer edition.

      Reply

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