Moving Autodesk License Servers via Group Policy

Showing you what I did on a recent project with a client – moving license servers on a few hundred workstations automatically! Very useful when migrating servers or retiring servers, or even making sure workstation have a backup license server in the cloud. Using Group Policy, we make an environment variable on workstation listed on a specific OU. The environment variable will direct workstation to point the Autodesk software to point to the new server.

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Microsoft Server 2012 & LMTOOLS v11.10

Since I had some downtime from the storm, I spent some time working with Windows Server 2012 and I have to admit, it’s pretty neat! I’ve configured the first license server in my virtual lab (using Oracle Virtual Box)  to serve up some Autodesk products without any issues. Interface to the server is neat and clean, and performance has been impressive. I’m planning to set up a virtual domain and will keep everyone posted on how it all works out!

When you know you got licenses…

I know I have 3ds max design licenses, I even checked my FlexLM on my server. It shows I have 50 licenses, but why can’t one of my users start up 3ds max design? When I start the software, I see this message, “The software license check out failed. Error 20.”

I went on a fact-finding mission, checking to see if the workstation actually communicated with the license server. You do this by checking the debug file. If the workstation did try to check out a license, it would leave an entry there. As I expected, there was no entry. I then went back to the workstation and disabled the Windows Firewall. Problem Solved! It turns out that a recent Windows Update actually made the firewall block ports needed by the license server. The fix?

  • Make the few exceptions on the Windows Firewall via GPO,
  • Applied the GPO to my domain,
  • Performed a “gpupdate /force” on the problematic workstation and
  • VOILA!

Beam me back to the network please! [the 2013 version]

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… You can beam yourself back after you left Starship Enterprise. Okay, I’m not talking about Captain Kirk here, but rather users who disconnected from their offices and left for some sunny location to “work” and subsequently converted their licenses to standalone. Now that they’re back to reality and need to be back onto network seats, a quick and easy change in the registry will fix do the trick!

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\AutoCAD\R19.0\ACAD-xxxx\AdLM

Civil3d-2013-reg

NOTE:  The value ACAD-xxxx may change depending on your AutoCAD vertical.  The example above is for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013.

In that directory change the type for the installation that you require to edit Type:
1 – Network
2 – Standalone
3 – Multiseat Standalone

FlexLM on Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine for Autodesk 2013 & 2012 products

Got Windows Server 2008 R2? Got virtualization plans? If so, check out the latest video. You can install FlexLM on guests running on Hyper-V or VMware. For this video, I’m going to be installing FlexLM using VMware Workstation, with a Windows Server 2008 R2 guest. It’s always recommended to ‘hard code’ your virtual guests’ MAC address so it doesn’t change. Complete setup and configuration in just over 6 minutes to get your license servers up and running, and your users back to work.

 

Here are the steps in case you feel like reading and not watching my awesome video:

  1. Load the latest FlexLM on the media of 2013 software. You should be using 11.10.xxxx. Should look similar to:
  2. On the Autocad install DVD (or any other installation DVD)  or the extracted EXE file, the path for FlexLM is named NLM.msi, under folder: C:\Autodesk\AutoCAD_2013_English_Win_64bit\x64\en-US\Tools\NLM\
  3. Note down the existing settings onto notepad and copy the files (especially the license file) off to a backup directory.  You do not want to mess up and delete your license file!!!!
  4. Remove the old version via “Programs and Features” in Control Panel.  You can also stop the service manually and do an “in place” installation.
  5. Click on the MSI file and follow the installation wizard. It’s as simple as clicking next a bunch of times.
  6. Once it’s installed, make sure the initial check box, “LMTOOLS ignores license file path environment variables” is checked. To configure as service, go to the CONFIG SERVICES tab and point/browse to those locations for LMGRD, LICENSE FILE, DEBUG FILE (you have to get the license file from Autodesk and create a debug.log file manually). Make sure the two check boxes are checked and click on SAVE SERVICE.
  7. Go to the Start/Stop/Reread tab and click on the Start Server button.
  8. Once the status shows Server Start Successful, go to the Server Status tab and click on the Perform Status Enquiry button.
  9. VOILA! You’ll see all the licenses available to you in the status window!

Automate ALL the things!

Just came back from a client visit and the project this time was helping to upgrade their license server. Pretty straight forward stuff, but I’ve come to realize that what I do as “straight forward” is actually pretty impressive to quite a few people.

We all know [at least you should if you follow my blog] that there are three spots that Autodesk uses to define where the license servers are.

  • Environment variables
  • Registry Entries
  • LICPATH.LIC

These are read that in that order, and when the system finds the key (ADSK_LICENSE_FILE), it will stop and put it to memory. So how does it affect my deployment? Well, if you have a license server (let’s call it OldLic1 and OldLic2) already serving up licenses and you want to upgrade/retire it and move licenses to your new, awesomely robust virtual server (NewLic1 and NewLic2), most people think you need to touch every workstation to update those values so that AutoCAD and Revit will get license from the right servers. NOT!

With the all-powerful Group Policy Management Editor and some nifty GPOs, you can make the change to all your workstations to all your branches… at once. Yes, we did this to well over a thousand machines for this project, even to their branches, WITHOUT having to touch every single machine. Thank goodness too, cuz I would’ve gone crazy!

Wait,… what? What GPOs do I need, you ask? I dropped enough clues; I’ll let your IT group figure that one out 

Softlocks are just as tough and annoying as hardlocks!

“The security system (softlock license manager) is not functioning or improperly installed. ”

 

Yes, you can reformat your machine and make this error message go away. Your support guy might also suggest a full uninstall of all Autodesk software. Of course there is always another way 

Softlock License Manager Errors were typically seen with the older version of AutoCAD products (releases older than 2008) and the typical cause of the error was restricted permissions on licensing folder or some corruption with the license file. We’ve been seeing this also with 2012 software, especially software coming from new Building Design Suite. The standalone license file locations are here:

On Vista or Windows 7:

  • C:\ProgramData\FLEXnet\adskflex_00691b00_tsf.data
  • C:\ProgramData\FLEXnet\adskflex_00691b00_tsf.data.backup 

On Windows XP:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\FLEXnet\adskflex_00691b00_tsf.data
  • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\FLEXnet\adskflex_00691b00_tsf.data.backup

These files are encrypted files and basically keep activation information.  Please try giving Everyone full control permissions to the folder and move adskflex data files you find there to another folder (e.g. Desktop). If that didn’t work, just delete the files. Can’t delete the files? That means that the service that requires those files are still in use. Go to the services.msc and look for “FLEXnet Licensing Service” and “FLEXnet Licensing Service 64”. Start the service, then STOP the service – in that order. Once those services are stopped, delete those two files and start the services up again. Start AutoCAD and VOOOOOOILA!!

Using Flexera License Manager (FlexLM) for multiple vendors

Quick little video (less than 5min) showing how you can use the network licensing scheme not just for Autodesk, but also for Solidworks, SmartBIM, ArcGIS, and many other software vendors. I will explain how you can consolidate your license servers by running multiple license server services, each server it’s own vendor without having multiple actual servers, physical or virtual. This is useful since everyone wants to maximize every server on their networks and also cut down the number of servers to a minimum.

too many sweets leads to cavities!

Sweets, suites… too many all leads to bad things!

Over in our support group, I’ve noticed some clients running into a reoccurring issue. When a client has both Revit Architecture Suite AND Building Design Suite, there are some anomalies that happen… well, not anomalies – they just don’t work the way that’s expected. Users that start AutoCAD / AutoCAD Architecture / Revit Architecture automatically takes a Building Design Suite license and not the cheaper Revit Architecture Suite license. Following Autodesk 2012 cascading logic, it should first take the cheapest license pool but it doesn’t. This is a known issue and Autodesk development is already on it and working to make a fix.

If you’re running into the same error, contact your Autodesk reseller support staff and they should know how to fix it. If you’re one of our clients, we’re already on it. We wouldn’t want you to develop any cavities! 

*and if you’re wondering, I prefer sour gummi worms 

2012: FLEXnet® feature codes for Autodesk products

Autodesk just posted a big list of all their products and their corresponding feature codes. A lot of you have been emailing me for this so I’m glad that Autodesk officially released it. Now, when you run a status inquiry, you can find out exactly who’s using what particular product.

Check it out here: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/dl/item?siteID=123112&id=17288427&linkID=9243099