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.

Apply Update Release 1 to your Revit Architecture 2013 Deployments

Got a follow up video for those you responsible for making deployments in your office. Since the original  deployment was made, Autodesk has release Update Release 1; we’re going to add that update to your deployment image. We’re also going to change two file locations, the Revit Project Data path and the IES file location.

There are two reasons for this change. If you want worksharing to work properly, the folder needs to be write-able for users. Since my DFS location is locked down and I don’t want to bother with permissions and blocking inheritance, I’m going to repath it to the local workstation. The second reason is that you will always have a local copy of the Revit model you’re working on (in case the server falls off the cliff).

Hope the video helps in your deployment needs. If you have questions, feel free to leave comments in the video and I’ll answer them there. Thanks! 

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 

default (vs) local (vs) shared

So what is the difference between default, local, and shared when you deploy AutoCAD / AutoCAD Architecture? Both default and local stores onto your local workstation; the difference is that you get to pick where you want it to go (local) and keeping content data like AEC styles and DesignCenter Content in the  ProgramData folder (default).

The Shared Mode is where things get a little more interesting, and for larger firms, this is the preferred method since standardization across all workstations is vital for productivity. I mean, you don’t want teams in the same firm using completely different Templates and Layer Standards. Some points to consider:

  • If you specify the same location for subsequent installations (not deployment), you will be prompted to overwrite the existing shared content files.
  • If you create a deployment with shared content, the content files are written to the shared locations when the deployment is created. This “one time deal” installs content for all Content Packs to the shared location so make sure it’s large enough.

Thankfully uninstalling the software from one workstation does not remove the content from the shared location. Imagine the headaches that would’ve happened if that was the case! Craziness!

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

LMTOOLS – “WinSock: Connection reset by peer”

(lmgrd) Can’t send reread to adskflex: Cannot read data from license server system. (-16,10009:10054 “WinSock: Connection reset by peer”)

If you ever ran into the above message or anything similar, AND run Windows 2008 R2, this issue is likely related to Windows DEP. If you’re using 64bit of LMTOOLS, you’ll need to go to the DEP settings and only enable DEP for Windows services (the first radio button) since you cannot make exceptions for 64bit based process.

If you’re using 32bit LMTOOLS, you have the choice of turning on DEP only for Windows essential stuff (above), or all programs & services. If you choose to do it for all programs and services, you can add a few exceptions:

  • Go into LMTOOLS and stop the license service
  • Stop any process in Task Manager (lmgrd.exe, adskflex.exe, FlexLM Service 1, etc etc)
  • Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance Settings > Data Excution Prevention.
  • Add an exception for LMGRD.exe, LMUTIL.EXE, LMTOOLS.EXE, ADSKFLEX.EXE, and FlexLM Service 1 (or what you called the service)
  • Go into LMTOOLS and start the service.

Now you just have to continually monitor it. I’d recommend having it email you when the service fails so you know where/when to remote into your server. Hope that helps!

Autodesk Certified Hardware list…. updated!

I’m sure most of you have heard that the Autodesk 2012 products are out already, and some of you have enough started dl’ing the new software via subscription center. YAY!

But what I thought was cool was the new Autodesk Graphics Hardware list. You can search by a particular software or even a Design Suite (the new Autodesk offering) to make sure that the graphics hardware for your machine is supported. Need to find out if your graphics card supports shadows, color fills, and transparent elements in Revit 2012 products? Make sure you see a green check mark greencheckmark for those specific items!

adskgraphicshardware1

Leveraging 3D printing to be better than awesome!

HUGE shout out to Karen Lewis, our director of marketing of Microsol Resources, for coordinating an amazingly successful event. Originally slated for the Rose Auditorium in the new Cooper Union building, we had moved the event to the Foundation Building in The Great Hall for the enormous interest. Did you know that The Great Hall once had 8 presidents had spoken there since it’s opening in 1858, with Lincoln accounting his own presidency to his speech in The Great Hall in 1860?! Sounds awesome? It is!

We have had our own 3D printer grace our offices for the past year or so, and we’re always looking for things to print. Our offices have printed stuff all over the place, along very detailed models that spin, rotate, and flip to mimic real objects (steering column, ball bearings, wrenches, screw cap bottle). Yes, you can print components that move with the Z Corp machines. It’s a lot cheaper than most people imagine, and the detail is amazing. If you’re awesome enough to tour firms like Pelli or Foster, ask to check out their 3D printing labs and see for yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.