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! 

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!



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!

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!

Save space & time when applying Revit updates to deployments

Within a few months, Autodesk has released a second update for the Revit family of products. Download them from the Autodesk website (here). Being a “on the ball” IT guy, I went to update my deployment images for Revit Architecture, Structure, and MEP.

Since I have both standalone and network versions, I don’t want to download the updates twice. The automated method actually downloads the MSP from Autodesk and puts it into the file location \\\deployments\RevitArchitecture2012-64bit\AdminImage\x64\RAC2012, under the file name rac2012ur2.msp. Knowing this, I moved the .MSP file over the the root of the deployment image for the Revit product and modified the deployment to apply that .MSP. One MSP can then be used for both standalone and network deployment. Save server space. Save time. WOOT WOOT! 

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\
  • C:\ProgramData\FLEXnet\ 

On Windows XP:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\FLEXnet\
  • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\FLEXnet\

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!!

Revit Central File issues with mixed OS environments?

Central file issues in mixed OS environments – are things just falling apart?! A few different firms have ran into issues working with their Revit files with some users not able to open some Revit models while others can. Strange isn’t it? The only thing common between the firms are that their host OS is mixed up, with office workstations working between three different Windows versions (XP, Vista, and 7).

We were able to work with the files in our lab and training rooms without any issues so we then continued our investigation onto their environment. Of the few things we’ve tried, deleting the worksharing LOG file (.slog) file did not help. We even tried adjusting the frequency Revit checks for worksharing updates, as featured in Revit OpEd: but it didn’t fix anything.

Not sure if it’s something broken with Revit 2012 or is it something more specific to how the OS is handling I/O traffic but what is interesting is that for two of the firms having this problem, updating their Revit Architecture 2012 to Update Release 1 fixed their issues! While I’d love to try to figure why it’s failing but since this fixes it, I’ll have to move on to other pressing tasks. Find the latest Revit Architecture 2012 download here: