As of WebSphere Application Server v8.5.5.5 (released 13th March, 2015), there’ll be a change to the license of the WAS Liberty download from WASdev. In addition to the free, unlimited use of Liberty in development (on developer machines), you’ll be able to use the Liberty runtime in small scale test or production for free.

The download from WASdev will no longer just be “for developers” – it will be for everyone.

Key points of the license

  • As licensee, you’ll be entitled to use up to 2GB of JVM heap space for running Liberty in test or production. You can share this across as many instances of Liberty as you like as long as the total JVM heap space across the instances does not exceed 2GB.
  • As with the current download, this is offered without support (but if you have questions/problems you can ask on Stack Overflow).
  • You’ll be able to use all the Liberty capabilities that are offered in the WebSphere Application Server offering. That is, all of the Java EE features that are supported in the runtime, and a few extra features as well. You can see the list in the knowledge center (this license’s features are in the same column as WAS express).
  • As with the current download you are only able to get WAS Liberty from WASdev. The full profile is not available as part of this free production entitlement, but remains free for development use from
  • You can deploy Liberty for test/production both on-premise or in the cloud (and on whichever cloud service you prefer).

Who is a “licensee”?

A licensee differs depending on why you’re downloading the runtime:

  • If you’re downloading Liberty for using at home (for a hobby or personal website) and not as part of work for a business or organisation then you’re the licensee.
  • If you’re downloading Liberty for your job or for a business or enterprise organisation, or a charity, etc then that whole organisation is the licensee.

This means that the 2GB limit on using Liberty in production applies across an entire business or organisation and not per developer in that organisation.

How to stay within the memory limit

It’s easy to make sure your runtimes stick within the 2GB limit:

  1. Create a file called jvm.options in your server’s directory (/usr/servers//).
  2. Inside the jvm.options file add the line:


This sets the upper limit for the JVM heap space for this server (change 2048m as appropriate to set different limits). Make sure that if you’re running multiple instances of Liberty in test or production that the xmx values you set add up to 2GB or less.

What functionality is allowed in test or production?

When using the Liberty download for development you can use any of the functionality available in the runtime and from the Liberty repository.

When using Liberty for test or production as part of the free license entitlement, you’re restricted to using functionality available in WAS (base). This covers all of the Java EE functionality plus some extras, but does not include some of the advanced deployment functionality and other features in WAS ND. All of the functionality included in the runtime download is allowed under the license, as are the majority of features on the Liberty repository. If you’re looking to download a feature from the repository and, on the downloads page for the feature, if base is listed as an edition that the feature can be used on, you’re fine to use it in test or production. Or you could just check the license for the feature download – if it’s not allowed to be used in test or production as part of the free entitlement, the license will indicate this.

Where to buy more capacity beyond the 2GB limit?

You can visit the WebSphere Application Server family page to view the various levels of capability offered, and contact IBM to buy the level you want. As a starting point this download is part of the “WebSphere Application Server” offering.


Does this change also include the Liberty beta downloads?

No. We don’t support or encourage the use of Liberty beta downloads for production environments, so this change only applies to the GA (stable) downloads.

Does the 2GB limit apply to my development environment?

No. We’re not changing the licensing around the use of Liberty in development. So you can continue to use the whole of Liberty in development (as is defined in the license).

Do I need to register to be able to use Liberty in production?

No. As with the current “for developers” download we are offering this registration free.

A different development team in my company is already using the free production entitlement, as we are different teams can we both use up to 2GB?

No. The 2GB limit is organisation-wide.

I’m currently using the Liberty buildpack in IBM Bluemix, does that count towards usage of this 2GB production entitlement?

No. The Liberty buildpack in IBM Bluemix does not count towards your 2GB entitlement in this download.

2GB doesn’t sound like much. Is that enough memory for running Liberty in production?

Liberty’s dynamic runtime architecture means that it only loads into memory the functionality you ask for, making it very memory efficient. The memory requirements for your environment vary by the size of, and functionality used by, your web application, in addition to the traffic the runtime is receiving. 2GB should be sufficient to allow small businesses, hobbyist developers, and small organizations to run their web applications without issues, as well as allowing larger businesses to evaluate a small scale deployment of the runtime.

If you have more questions please ask on our Stack Overflow tag.

24 comments on"What the Liberty runtime license lets you do"

  1. Hi, can you please point me to the license agreement that includes the 2GB of JVM heap space limit for running Liberty in test or production? Thanks

  2. Thanks, Eclipse Photon for Java EE warns of an unsigned component during install; I’ll pass for now but will reinstall once everything is signed.

  3. Is this something that the Liberty user has to monitor or is there a way of differentiating between ‘development’ and ‘production’ use?

    If there is a differentiation, what will happen if a ‘non base’ feature is used or if the 2GB heap threshold is surpassed in production?

    • Hi Aaron,
      You need to monitor it and buy licences if you use more than the 2GB heap threshold in a ‘production’ (including test) setup.

  4. May you clarify “for development purposes”?

    • Development is work done on a developer machine (primarily around creating applications that can run on WebSphere).

      The license defines it here:

      A “Developer Machine” is a physical or virtual desktop
      environment, running a primary operating system and the Program, both of
      which are accessible and used by no more than one (1) specified
      developer. The physical or virtual desktop environments include on-
      premises and off-premises cloud environments. When on a Developer
      Machine or Build Server, Licensee is not authorized to use for
      processing production workloads, simulating production workloads or
      testing scalability of any code, application or system.”

  5. How do I calculate the ‘count of’ licenses ? pr JVM/CPU/HOST ? What about test/development(not a developer workstation)/preproduction/production ? ND is probably the flavor needed for test/preprod/prod.

    • Hi bwa – I’m not sure I understand what you are asking for – do you want clarification on what is free use under the developer license, and what counts as use for the 2GB production entitlement and additional paid for entitlement? (I want to be sure I correctly understand your question so I give you the correct answer).

  6. […] Подробнее о лицензировании версии Liberty для разработчиков можно узнать здесь. […]

  7. Is it free to use on a CI server (e.g. jenkins), or does 2Gb limit apply there too?

    • Hi Roger – is the server running on the CI server or is it just installed?

      • I’m not sure about the difference between running on CI server and just installed.
        Nothing is setup at the moment.

        We would like to have it on our CI server together with jenkins, using it for automated as well as manual tests.

        Provided, license allows it, that is.

        • Hi Roger,

          It sounds like that testing falls under the need for a license, so your machines running the tests will be counted towards the free 2GB total JVM HEAP for your business.

  8. hi,
    is there any licensed copy of Liberty available so that it can be used for production without the restriction of heap size? what will be the license terms, if i have the licensed copy of WAS/WAS ND and want to use liberty?
    please help.

    • Hi Sandeep. Yes we have several different commercial licenses that you can purchase to use Liberty in production without HEAP restrictions – versions 8.5 and 9 of Liberty core, WAS Base and WAS ND all come with Liberty PVU entitlement (so you can use WebSphere traditional or WebSphere Liberty interchangeably as they both use PVUs at the same rate).

      If you have v8.0.x or older then the license does not entitle you to Liberty, and you’ll need to upgrade.

      • Albert Howel Cabantog October 30, 2019

        Hi Tom,

        Can I please get the contact details where I can get a quote to get a licence for our dev, test, production installation of WS Liberty. All our applicaiton are cloud base and will be beyond the 2 GB memory limit.

  9. […] you stay below a total of 2GB heap size across your organisation as outlined in Tom’s post. This was recently joined by a second image containing our latest monthly Liberty beta, available […]

  10. […] but IBM recently released a free version that can be used for developers for development purposes (Click Here to know about restrictions on […]

  11. Hi guys, maybe someone knows the answer to my question 🙂
    I have a Java application which will be used in production and for that
    I’d like to use IBM JDK.

    Can I use IBM JDK which is included into WAS Liberty Java EE Full
    Platform 7.0 for that if I limit JVM heap space according to the license
    agreement for Download WAS Liberty Java EE Full Platform 7.0?

  12. Is this also applicable for liberty clustering ?

    • The free usage is of the WAS (base) license and does not include entitlement to WAS ND functionality.

  13. […] “prayers” were finally answered by the IBM pricing gods. Starting mid-March 2015 you will be able to get Liberty Profile for free production as long as the total Java heap used in all of your instances does not exceed 2 GB across all of […]

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