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!

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.


Ran into a very good article this morning from Ars Technica titled “Virtualization in the trenches with VMware, pt 2″. Storage issues are a very common problem that IT folks run into, especially when dealing with lots and lots of data and trying to get the right balance between price/performance. Ars did a great write up here, detailing and explaining variables that need to be thoroughly scruntinized for each office. I like how they’re talking about 10GigE when I just came back from an office that is still a wired Cat3 network. Yes folks, that’s Cat3. Thankfully I was brought in to help them manage the project for their massive overhaul.

Hmmmmm, I wonder if I’ll get approved for RAID-0 SSD drives for my servers soon 🙂 

Revit Server… across different domains!

Yesterday, I was working with this really cool architecture / engineering firm (to be kept secretive, just take my word that their stuff is amazing and has been featured in more than a few magazines) on setting up their Revit Server. But this isn’t the run-of-the-mill configuration… We already setup Revit Servers in their different offices (even sites across oceans). This time, it will be between different domains!

First, we established a domain trust with one of their partners. Then we setup Revit Server onto their partners’ Revit server. At the end of the day, we got all of their Revit Servers talking to each other and their models are happily working between the various offices AND their partners offices, AND taking into consideration of site link costs and their connection speeds. Here’s a overly simplified diagram. Yes, it can be done.

Revit Server: Setting it up right the 1st time

The Revit Server video is up on our Vimeo channel as well as my YouTube channel! It includes a live preparation of Windows Server 2008 R2 in my VMware Workstation, as well as an actually installation. Make sure you watch it before trying it out in your office to save yourself some downtime, not to mention headaches!! 🙂

If you have any questions, comments, or even suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email! I’m always open to constructive critics’ thoughts and opinions!


Revit Server update: After a LOT of testing with my sandbox, I got Revit Server up and running. Seeing that I didn’t have my regular Server 2008 media, I had to use 2008 R2. And I did it through VMware… Okay, so it’s not officially supported by Autodesk but it does work. Those who are trying it themselves; there are some things missing from the prerequisite pages. I’ve already sent the updates in. A full implementation video in progress, STAY TUNED!

*Mark your calendars for October 12!!!! We’re going to be having an event in the Apple store on 14th street for more news about AutoCAD on the MAC. See you there, but you must register!

Serve me up some Revit Server!

If you haven’t heard already, there is MAJOR news on the Autodesk front. Just released is the subscription advantage packs for lots of stuff. Lots of AutoCAD based packs, but what I’m clamoring about is the Revit stuff, Revit Server specifically.

This is an Autodesk software solution for sharing Revit Central Files across a WAN. We’ve used Riverbed, Globescape, and other solutions; again, this is direct from Autodesk. Watch this quick little video by Autodesk for more info.

Users point to the central server and/or IP address. No ping = no connect. Obvious isn’t it? 🙂 Some info:

Technical Requirements: (updated)

  • Officially: Windows Server 2008 (64 bit OS) – no R2, no virtualization
  • IIS 7.0 + IE 7.0 (or higher) + Silverlight plug-in + MS .NET 3.5 SP1
  • Roles + Services specified by the Autodesk readme file.


  • Delete, rename or move files on Revit Servers using Revit Server Administrator (RSA)
  • Disabled features: Editing Requests, Working At Risk, Rollback, model thumbnails, worksharing monitor.

Revit Server Administrator: (highlights)

  • Web based tool
  • Users can type the server name in browser (IIS based access control)
  • Folder management done using RSA (create, delete, rename and move folders)
  • Backup and restoration – lock/unlock central files
  • View submission history for any model changes

Useful resources:

Keep in mind this is definitely not a cloud solution. As one of the testers noted, this is version 1. You know what that means, take it with a grain of salt. We all know that v1 is never close to perfect, but it’s got real potential. After a little bit of testing in my sandbox….

“2011 – Autodesk, Networks, Deployments, etc etc” webinar

Just finished presenting my 2011 webinar on Wednesday, Whoohooo! Enhanced with a new slide deck and new virtual interface this year, you can tell that I did some prepping for this presentation. Hope that everyone who joined really enjoyed it! Yes, I did get to put in some much loved antics. Yes, I gave shout-outs to all my folks. Yes, it is recorded – click the pic for the link on vimeo! 🙂


Recorded the deployment creation separately using Navisworks Manage 2011 instead of Revit Architecture 2011 so that I can fast-forward it.  Everyone will be able to see the complete demo, and even include the GPO software deployment.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email! I’m always open to constructive critics’ thoughts and opinions 🙂 While you do that, I’ll be multitasking and preparing for my next Microsoft exam… Whooohooo!

What’s my name! What’s my name!

In another episode of my IT world, I ran into this really strange error. (Okay, not so strange considering that others have had it happen to them too). Here’s the error: We have an Exchange 2003 server, and various domain controllers, and a terminal server. When I created a user (John Doe for example) on a domain controller (2003 R2), I also marked it so that it’ll create an Exchange mailbox. BUT IT DIDN’T! I waited and waited, even to the next day. The next day, I decided to manually create the x.400 and the SMTP entries. Did that. Went to TS and logged in as user. OK. Went to Outlook (package deployment to automatically specify the Exchange server)… FAILED! This is the error message: the name could not be resolved. the name could not be matched to a name in the address list

Double checked the server and credentials and everything checked out fine! What is going on?! I’m not using RPC over HTTP, just native Exchange mode! I even tried rebooting the Exchange server and domain controller! [research research, google’d and bing’d it up] I even tried using ADSIEdit (GASP!) and findin the variable showInAddressBook and making sure the values were set properly. Went into advance options in ADUC to the security tab to make sure the user was inheriting permissions from their parents. Checked to make sure that the checkbox “Hide in GAL” was unchecked. All seems okay.

It turns out the problem is a RUS replication problem!!!!

  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Exchange, and then click System Manager.
  2. Double-click Recipients, and then click Recipient Update Services.
  3. In the right pane of the Exchange System Manager window, right-click Recipient Update Service (Enterprise Configuration), and then click Properties.
  4. Verify that a valid Exchange server name appears in the Exchange server box. If the server name does not appear, or if the one that appears is incorrect, click Browse. In the Select Exchange Server dialog box, click a valid Exchange server in the site, click OK, and then click OK again.
    1. In my entry, I noticed it was pointing to the OTHER Exchange server. I changed it to the one that has the user account (the primary Exchange server).
  5. In the right pane, right-click Recipient Update Service (Enterprise Configuration), and then click Rebuild.
  6. Click Yes to confirm the rebuild operation.
  7. In the right pane of the Exchange System Manager window, right-click Recipient Update Service (domain), where domain is the name of your domain, and then click Properties.
  8. Verify that a valid Exchange server name appears in the Exchange server box. If the server name does not appear, or if the name that appears is incorrect, click Browse. In the Select Exchange Server dialog box, click a valid Exchange server in the site, click OK, and then click OK again.
    1. Again, I noticed it was pointing to the OTHER Exchange server. I changed it to the one that has the user account (the primary Exchange server).
  9. Right-click Recipient Update Service (domain), where domain is the name of your domain, and then click Rebuild. Click Yes to confirm the rebuild operation.
  10. Right-click Recipient Update Service (domain), where domain is the name of your domain, and then click Update Now.
  11. Quit the Exchange System Manager.
  12. ************** WAIT FOR REBUILDING! *************
  13. Check user in ADUC for her email properties. Now it doesn’t even show the email tabs. I right clicked the user and selected Exchange Tasks and created a mailbox.
  14. Started up Exchange Server Manager to make sure there’s a mailbox for the user…. And…
  15. VOILA!

So yes, that was that. There’s a few things to check before you go and rebuild your entire RUS. I highly recommend you check it BEFORE you rebuild. Rebuilding does take some time (and the popup box says hours?! GASP!).

BTW – Did you back up your Exchange server? When was your last FULL BACKUP? Did you try practicing restoring a mailbox? Just some things to do when you have time… even when you don’t have time. Never know when you’ll need to do it! Might as well be super familiar with it BEFORE a catastrophe! 🙂

*Reference articles:

Exchange Recipient Update Service fails to process accounts and MSExchangeAL 8151 event logged: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;322313

How to work with Exchange Recipient Update Service: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319065

Troubleshooting Active Directory replication problems: http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5098469.html

Virtualizing my SharePoint server….

Going green… and just jumping into the hype, I’ve giving myself the project of taking our company physical server that houses the SharePoint site and … virtualizing it. The old server was a Dell PE 2500 with a whoooping one CPU 1.00 GHz processor. Ha! I laugh cuz the machine I’m typing on is dual dual core and a ton of RAM. My how technology has been speeding along!

Anyways. Before I started the project, I did the typical. Backup twice, practice restoring it, back up again. Everyone, I know it’s been said but I keep finding people doing projects and jumping into them without first backing up AND testing your backup. Backups FAIL and you don’t want to be in the server room at night!!!! So with all the precautions in place, I proceeded and… ::drum roll please:: succeeded! Okay okay, most of my projects usually succeed (cause my job depends on it! Ha!). While researching the process, I noticed that a LOT of people are trying the same thing and failing at certain steps. So I decided to document my steps to virtualize my server and hopefully someone can get some benefit out of it.

QUICK NOTE: If your server is called server1 and you created the Sharepoint site already, it’s tedious to change the server name to something else (like server2) and reconnect the dbase and other connecting points. It’s quicker to reinstall the entire server (less than an hour).

  1. Preform backup of the existing sharepoint site using the sharepoint central admin interface.
  2. Restore the Windows SharePoint Services Web Application – default site port 80. If you already created a site in Sharepoint, you’ll have to use the existing db. Otherwise, you’ll have to make a new one.
  3. You’ll notice the failure on WSS_Content. Object WSS_Content failed in event OnPostRestore. For more information, see the error log located in the backup directory. SPException: Cannot attach database to Web application. Use the command line tool or Central Administration pages to attach the database manually to the proper Web Application.
  4. When you see that error message, that means that you MUST USE THE STSADM command line utility from the SharePoint site to upgrade the existing SharePoint to the latest. The GUI will NOT work. Stsadm is located at the following path on the drive where SharePoint Products and Technologies is installed: %COMMONPROGRAMFILES%\microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\bin. You must be an administrator on the local computer to use Stsadm.
  5. General command line that I found online:
    • copied a production site this way: stsadm -o backup -url http://myproductionserver -filename myproductionsite.cab
    • create a new empty website with the administrator web on the same server using another IP port number or another server like: http://testserver or http://productionserver:12345 (You can do that with stsadm)
    • then i restore the backup file: ststadm -o restore -url http://testserver -filename myproductionsite.cab -overwrite
    • Maybe a iisreset may be needed in between the creation or the restore.
  6. Use that same restore command: ststadm -o restore -url http://testserver -filename myproductionsite.cab -overwrite
  7. SharePoint server has been moved from a physical server to a virtual server.  Since it’s different server name and different IP address, I modified the DNS entry on the domain. Requests to the old SharePoint server will be directed to the new one.
  8. VOILA!

That’s that! Going from a MS Windows Server 2003 physical machine to a MS Windows Server 2008 virtual machine. Hope everyone finds it helpful!