Problems and solutions for the management of Flexnet Floating license server

Many software packages use Macrovision Flexnet floating license manager in order to protect their products. The protection helps the software maker to reduce piracy rate but in most cases, it is also causing troubles to users by making the software less friendly.  In this brief guide, we are discussing some of the most common problems encountered while using Macrovision floating license manager, and we are offering “first aid” commands to resolve some of these common problems. In addition, you also have the option of using OpenLM as an overall solution so you will never need to bother with these commands again.

Users can manage the license manager by using UI or the command line. In our solution we prefer the use of the command line interface, since it is more comprehensive and easier for use (at least for ex UNIX users).  As of lately, many organizations abandoned UNIX workstations for Windows XP and the majority of the license servers that run on Windows 2003, are employing a hardware key. The hardware key on the Windows workstation replaces the unique CPU ID that was originally used at the time of the good old UNIX…

Following are a few common problems and their offered solutions for Flexlm manager:

Problem: Running a License Server is usually done by using windows service that was created as part of the installation process, some problems occur as part of the general use of the system requiring administrator’s intervention.

Solution: When problems arise the license server can be activated manually by using the command: lmgrd -c “license file name”
This command is allowing us to check the problems that prevent the license from working properly.

Problem: Verifying who is currently using the licenses.

Solution: Checking for used licenses can be accomplished by accessing the server Command Prompt or any other station that has the software installed.

On the server machine:  lmutil lmstat -a  Will list all license and users.
lmutil lmstat -A  Will list only Active users.
On a remote machine:   lmutil lmstat -a -c <port-number@license-server>

Problem: User exited the application however the license manager is still reporting him as being in use.

Solution: There are two possible Command Syntax for this problem, one that is absolutely difficult and a second which is relatively simple to use.

lmstat output for the sample:

Users of SOFT:  (total of 2 license available)

“some software” v4.0, vendor: ABC Soft

floating license

username SERVERNAME 6BLf”L{>j0)n0ecs~ (v9.0) (lic_server/27004 104), started Fri 6/11 10:30

The ugly: lmutil lmremove <feature> <user> <host> <display>

or with the values: lmutil lmremove “some softwar” username SERVERNAME 6BLf”L{>j0)n0ecs~

The problem is that the characters of the display string may cause problems.

The good: lmutil lmremove -h FEATURENAME server_host PORT handle

And with values:
lmutil lmremove -h SOFT SERVERNAME 27004@lic_server 104

Problem: One user is showing as having registered as using two licenses on the very same workstation.

Solution:
Try to kill both of the licenses, even if we manage to kill both, the software will usually reconnect to the license server after 5 retries. If this will not help, restart the license manager service. If it is still not helping – there may be a process still running at the workstation, check and kill all your protected software processes.

In general, restarting the license manager service looks like a dangerous action but our long experience demonstrates that it solves the problem in most of the cases and if the license is properly configured, it will reconnect with all the clients shortly there after.

OpenLM license manager can help the License Manager administrator solve all of the problems we described automatically. OpenLM monitors Macrovision’s License Server and fixes any problem in real time, significantly increasing the availability of licenses for the organization users. OpenLM will leverage your investment in expensive software licenses and will allow you to save money on maintenance. Use our Contact Form to get in touch with us and we will show you how to save money and unnecessary headache

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How Does OpenLM TIMEOUT for ESRI ArcGIS works

Background

OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS implements a TIMEOUT feature for ESRI ArcGIS software that uses FLEXlm software for licensing. The activity of the TIMEOUT feature is based on two parameters, maximum idle time and threshold.

Maximum idle time (minutes) – Set the maximum time that ESRI ArcGIS software will not be closed, even if the software is not in use (idle). The software may be closed after that time, if the usage is above a set level (threshold).

Threshold (percent) – The usage level that above it OpenLM will start to release ESRI ArcGIS FLEXlm licenses.

How does it works?

OpenLM monitors the usage level of each FLEXlm feature and once the usage level is above the set threshold, OpenLM will gracefully close sessions, starting with the ones that are idling longer. Once the usage level drops below the set threshold, OpenLM Server will not close more idling sessions.

From the end user’s point of view, his ESRI ArcGIS project will be saved and then closed. A pop-up message will announce that the project was closed and will allow the user to reopen the project in a single click. The user can also click OpenLM Agent located on the end user desktop and get the list of all recently closed projects.

Discussion

The combination of the threshold/maximum idle time is a simple system that assures that licenses will be available for users that need licenses while trying to minimize the number of closed sessions.

Since the act of closing idle sessions of ArcGIS Desktop can cause some inconvenience, OpenLM, is trying to minimize the number of closed sessions. If demand for Desktop ArcGIS licenses is low then users can keep idle session. When there is a demand for licenses OpenLM Server must assure that a sufficient number of licenses are available for new users that may try to access the software.

For example:
ESRI ArcView Licenses – 100
ESRI ArcInfo Licenses – 10
ESRI ArcGIS Spatial Analyst – 3

The default OpenLM Values are:

Threshold – 80%
Maximum idle time – 20 Minutes

Starting with the ArcView licenses, OpenLM will try to keep 20 licenses free for new users. Since 400 or more users can use a pool of 100 ESRI ArcGIS concurrent licenses. Keeping an amount of 20 free licenses available for new users makes sense.

With a total of 10 licenses available, OpenLM will try to keep two free licenses of ESRI ArcInfo ready for new users. Assuming that 8 licenses were already consumed, if more then two users try to access the ESRI ArcInfo licenses at the same time, some will get a FLEXlm denial. If two or less users request an ArcInfo license at the same time, their request will be fulfilled and then OpenLM will try to release idle sessions for more new users.

Because of the low number of Spatial Analyst licenses, OpenLM will only keep one floating license free for new users. This is because when two licenses are in use the usage rate is only 66% (less than 80%). Only when the third floating license is consumed the usage rate will be 100% and OpenLM will try to release one license for new users.

As shown above, the threshold mechanism works well for both high and low numbers of ESRI ArcGIS concurrent licenses.

Is there any benefit in applying different timeout values for different features?

We will try to address this issue by an example. Let us assume we have two FLEXlm features with different groups of users for each group: editing users that use ESRI ArcInfo and viewers the use ESRI ArcView.

Feature Licenses Users
ArcView         10        40
ArcInfo          10        20

With a threshold of 80% OpenLM will try to keep two (2) free licenses for each FLEXlm feature (ArcView and ArcInfo). Since there are less users that are sharing the ArcInfo FLEXlm feature (10 licenses for 20 users), there are more chances that less then 8 licenses will be concurrently in use. When the usage is bellow the set threshold, no sessions will be closed by OpenLM and by that, we actually extend the maximum idle time parameter.

If the usage rate of the FLEXlm ArcInfo feature is higher then the set threshold, 80%, a higher time out will not allow OpenLM to release idle licenses. The result is that we allowed idle users to hold licenses that are required by other users, and by that, avoided them from doing their work.

The conclusion is that timeout should be kept minimal and uniform to all features and user groups.

Summary

The timeout mechanism provided by OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS is based on two parameters, “maximum idle time” and threshold. The combination of these two parameters provides a good solution for floating licenses (FLEXlm features) with both high and small number of licenses. The timeout value should be kept minimal (15-20 minutes) for all FLEXlm features and user groups.

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OpenLM DNS Resolving service

Preface

OpenLM Software reports all aspects of license usage such as license inventory, used licenses, users, workstations and more. An important information for system administrator is to know the IP address of the workstation that pulls the license.

Some floating license manager do not report the IP addresses of the workstations that pull the licenses. The IP address is mostly important for international companies. In such companies  the system administrator can recognize the location of the use according to the IP address.

OpenLM Server is able resolve the IP address of workstations using network services and by that, provide this important information.

DNS resolving configuration

DNS configuration is executed as a background process in OpenLM Server. The configuration is done in OpenLM Server Configuration form->Advanced TAB

The settings are:

1. DNS resolving (true/false)
2. Resolve time

If DNS resolving is set to true (checked), then the process will take place every 24 hours at the set time.

For example, at The screenshot below, DNS resolving is set to take place every night at midnight.

Before the first occurrence of the process, no IP addresses will be shown. Between occurrences of the resolving process some workstation may be shown without IP address.

IP Addresses in OpenLM Interface

IP address shows in every tab or report that lists workstation names. For example, in the workstations TAB:

The user can configure his EasyAdmin interface to show or hide the any column, including this field using OpenLM interface.

About OpenLM

OpenLM is a license management system that supports all popular license managers including: FLEXlm, FLEXnet, IBM LUM, SafeNet HASP, SafeNet RMS, RLM and more.
OpenLM Also provides dedicated solutions for popular systems such as Autodesk software or ESRI ArcGIS. The software OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS and OpenLM for Autodesk provides a unique solution for organizations that allows them to get more usage out of their existing licenses.

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Monitoring an IBM LUM License server using OpenLM Software

OpenLM Version 1.6 Supports the IBM LUM license server. IBM LUM licenses are used by different software vendors, the main vendor is probably Dassault Systems (Catia software).

Requirements

In order for OpenLM to support the LUM License server it has to be able to access the LUM License server remotely or locally. Different configuration options are supported by OpenLM that allows system managers to configure license servers located on LAN and WAN networks.

Configurations Options

OpenLM Supports flexible configurations that support LAN or WAN networks. This section lists the different configurations. Most of the information in this section is also relevant to other license servers such as SafeNet RMS, SafeNet HASP, FLEXlm, FLEXnet, RLM and others.

IBM LUM and OpenLM on the same machine

This is the most simple configuration but not a very realistic one. Most companies have more than one license server and because of that, they install OpenLM on a separate machine.

When OpenLM server is installed on the same machine as the IBM LUM License server, there is no additional configuration steps, just add the server name and port to the configuration.

IBM LUM and OpenLM on separate machines

In this scenario OpenLM Server is installed on one machine and the license server is installed on another. The problem we have to solve is how to allow OpenLM Server to access the LUM License Server. There are two possible solutions:

  • Use OpenLM Broker to send IBM LUM usage to OpenLM Server.
  • Configure OpenLM Server machine to be able to query usage on the IBM LUM License server.
Configure OpenLM Broker to push usage information to OpenLM Server

This is the most simple solution but it requires access to the license server machine for installation. OpenLM Broker software is reading the license usage locally and pushing the information to OpenLM Server.

The installation of OpenLM Broker requires only Java JRE. It can run on any operating system supported by Java and by that OpenLM supports Linux, Windows and UNIX license servers.

Configure OpenLM Server machine to be able to query usage on the IBM LUM License server.

IBM LUM Server allows other machines to query license usage and perform other actions from a remote machine. For a full install procedure please consult IBM LUM documentation, we will provide short overview of the requirements.

  1. Install Java JRE on the OpenLM Server machine.
  2. Make sure that you have IIS installed and configured on the OpenLM Server Machine.
  3. Install LUM software on the OpenLM Server machine, there is no need to configure your licenses.
  4. Add reference to OpenLM Server on the IBM LUM License server

Adding an IBM LUM license server in OpenLM

Like the configuration of FLEXlm and SafeNet RMS Services the configuration of an IBM LUM is simple and straight forward.
Using OpenLM Server Configuration->License Servers tab, Add the new license server and port. In the license server type the LUM type needs to be selected.

IBM LUM Support Level

Most of the functionality provided by OpenLM is also supported for IBM LUM licenses. We also support unique features of IBM LUM such as features versions.

OpenLM support for IMB LUM includes:

  • License inventory reporting.
  • License expiration alerts.
  • Current license usage.
  • Usage reports and charts.
  • License billing for groups or projects.
  • More…

Summary

IBM LUM (License Use Management) is the IBM product for technical software license management (similarly, the Flexera product is  FLEXnet). OpenLM Software fully supports the IBM LUM software and provides a flexible architecture that supports complex configurations.

The support for IBM LUM licenses if full, OpenLM supports unique features of IBM LUM such as versions for features. The advanced functionality of OpenLM such as License Usage Billing, Usage Reports, Usage Charts and more  is also supported for IBM LUM.

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Collecting project information for usage using OpenLM Software

Preface

OpenLM Software allows organizations to collect usage data for billing and management purposes. OpenLM supports different policies, by groups or by project. Collecting information by groups is most common, the organization is using OpenLM in order to collect information according to any sub-division: subsidiaries, divisions, departments, etc.. The information is then used in order to implement the billing policy selected by the organization: charge by the hour, distribute maintenance costs between cost centers, or other.

Billing usage time by the active project is mainly used by project oriented companies. It helps such companies to calculate a more accurate cost of the project by collecting the usage time for each project.

Supported Software Systems

The process of collecting project information for software usage is supported for software systems that are using license managers such as FLEXlm (FLEXnet), SafeNet RMS, SafeNet HASP, IBM LUM, LMX and more.

These types of license managers are used by high-end software systems such us: ESRI ArcGIS, AutoDesk Autocad, Pro Engineer, PTC, Catia, Matlab and more.

Setting project support settings

OpenLM interfaces that allow the system administrator to perform the following actions:

  • Create new projects.
  • Set project state (Active, Not Active).
  • Assign users to projects (or remove).

Version 1.5 of OpenLM provides these interface by using OpenLM Users Management Module. From version 1.6 and on, we integrated these interfaces into OpenLM EasyAdmin.

The project collecting capability needs to be activated from OpenLM Server Configuration form. This can be done by navigating to the Projects tab. The following options are available:

Activating projects capability (“Log Project Information”).
Minimal Usage Duration – User can set a short period of usage that won’t be considered as actual usage.
Agent’s Behavior – Allows the system administrator to select one of two policies, by using OpenLM Agent functionality or by Environment Variables. The use of OpenLM Agent functionality is more user friendly and provides a more accurate results.

Environment Variables – The use of an environment variable is simple, set the name of the environment variable and OpenLM will automatically collect the information based on the environment variable settings. Using these option may also require the use of “Add unknown projects”, OpenLM server will automatically create unknown project names reported by users.

OpenLM Agent functionality – OpenLM actively collects project information for usage sessions. OpenLM Agent provides the following functionality:

  • Active Project prompt popps up automatically from OpenLM Agent when the user is activating the licensed software.
  • Active project prompt to pop-up every few minutes, in case the user switched to another project.
  • Active project prompt can be set to disappear automatically when the user ignores it.
  • The user can also activate the active project prompt from OpenLM Agent icon at any time.

Generating Reports

OpenLM EasyAdmin->Reports Tab provides reports based on active project. The user can generate usage reports at any time and limit the query by almost any argument.

Individual sessions can be reported by using OpenLM EasyAdmin->License activity tab.

Synchronization with external systems and sharing information

OpenLM allows organization to synchronize project assignment information automatically with external systems like the organization project management system.

OpenLM supports the update of the project list and and assignment of users to project through OpenLM API.

External systems can also access the project information and totals by using OpenLM API.

Summary

OpenLM System provides a complete infrastructure that allows organizations to implement a billing policy for licensed software usage. The system supports billing policy based on groups or users, projects or both together.

OpenLM Supports automatic synchronization of project information with external system like project management systems.

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Autocad for MAC!!!

Autodesk announce the release of Autocad 2011 for MAC. It runs natively on the OS X platform with a MAC style interface.

Check the announcement at Autodesk site.

This version does not yet supports network licensing (floating/concurrent licensing) such as the Windows version that uses FLEXlm (FLEXnet) floating licensing.

Another important point to consider is that this initial version of Autocad for MAC does not yet includes all the functionality included in the Windows version. I assume that will be solved very soon.

Is it another crack in the Microsoft dominance in the organizational market?

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Duplicate Entries in the FLEXlm debug log

We recently received reports about duplicate user sessions reported by OpenLM. For example, in the Maptek software that uses FLEXlm (FlexNet Publisher) software for licensing.

Checking the FLEXlm debug log file we have found that the duplicate entries are created by the MAPTEK vendor.

6:15:30 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:32 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:35 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:37 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:15:39 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
6:16:40 (MAPTEK) OUT: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
8:03:04 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s
8:17:28 (MAPTEK) IN: “GTCH_1” user1@nml11d7w1s

The user only started one session of the software but at the last four entries we clearly see that the MAPTEK vendor daemon reported two overlapping sessions.

This information is included in OpenLM reports only when OpenLM Broker software is installed on the FLEXlm license server. OpenLM Broker software is designed to read the license manager debug log files and to push the information to OpenLM Server.

OpenLM Team is planning to include a solution to duplicate usage records in the near future.

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ArcGIS 10 FLEXlm License Borrowing

The release of ESRI ArcGIS software version 10 also includes an upgrade of the FLEXlm license manager to release 11.6.1. This upgrade enables the support for the long awaited FLEXlm borrowing functionality that allows user to convert a floating (concurrent) license to a node locked license for a predefined period of time.The borrowing functionality is both an opportunity and a threat to the efficiency of license usage. Users can now take their tools to the field, gather the required information and edit it on-site. By that they can highly improve their efficiency.
On the other hand users may borrow licenses to network workstations, borrow licenses for no reason and other action that can highly reduce the usage efficiency of licenses. The tools provided by OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS accompanied by a reasonable policy set by the management can help you avoid the risks of the FLEXlm license borrowing functionality.

This article describes the required steps to enable borrowing and how to use the borrowing functionality.

Enabling Borrowing (Done by Administrator)

Borrow settings are configured on License Manager’s machine.
Start –> ArcGis –> License Manager –> License Server AdministratorAllow Borrowing – Enable/Disable the functionality
Max Borrow Time – Set the minimum time possible. Very long borrowing periods can highly compromise the license usage efficiency.
Audit Log – The location of the log.


ArcGIS ScreenYour settings are stored in Registry a registry branch on your license server:

HKLM\Software\ESRI\ArcGIS License Manager 10.0

The following keys can be found:
BORROW_ENABLED
MAX_BORROW_TIME

When you click “Apply”, license is re-read (Equal to the lmutil lmreread command. The benefit of this command is that system administrators can make changes without stopping the FLEXlm service).

Using Borrowing (Done by the borrowing user)

At the workstation, borrowing action is done by using the “ArcGis Administrator” tool. The workstation has to be connected to the network while borrowing.

Start the ArcGIS Administrator by using:
Start –> ArcGIS –> ArcGis Administrator

Select the Borrow/Return tab.

The user needs to check the feature he wants to borrow

After borrow is confirmed, the borrowed feature will not be available to other users and the system will show the return date:

At the ESRI Audit.log (which location was defined at first step) you can find borrow details:

Using the lmutil lmstat command FLEXlm shows this output:

Users of Viewer:  (Total of 1 license issued;  Total of 1 license in use)

“Viewer” v10.0, vendor: ARCGIS
floating license

ACTIVATED LICENSE(S) olm-arcgis10 ACTIVATION (v10.0) (192.168.1.248/27000 102), start Thu 8/12 15:15

In OpenLM Version 1.6 active products TAB:

With ESRI ARCGIS vendor daemon FLEXlm does not show the borrowing user, it writes the word “Activated License(s)”. Other software products that use FLEXlm report the user that actually borrowed the Feature.

Releasing the license back to the license pool

Releasing the license is easy. Make sure the machine is connected to the network, open ArcGIS Administrator and release the license. The license can be released even before the the target date.

If the borrowed FEATURE is not returned to the license pool by the user the borrowing will expire automatically on the due date and will be available to all network users.

Summary

ArcGIS Desktop version 10 features the long awaited feature of license borrowing. This functionality allows users to borrow licenses to their workstation and by that to convert a floating license to a node-locked license for a limited period of time. This functionality allows users to take their ArcGIS Desktop software to the field (ArcInfo, ArcEditor, ArcView). OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS fully supports the borrowing functionality.

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What is FLEXlm? What is FlexNet?

General

FLEXlm software is a license management solution that allows software vendors to limit the number of software seats available to their users. FLEXlm supports different licensing policies such as Floating (aka Concurrent) and Node Locked licenses.
These type of software systems are also called DRM Solutions (Digital Rights Management). Other software with the same functionality are SafeNet HASP, SafeNet RMS and IBM LUM.
FLEXlm is used by a great variety of software vendors, such as ESRI, Autodesk, Mathworks, PTC, Ansys, Cadence and more.

History

FLEXlm was originally a joint development of GLOBEtrotter Software and Highland Software in 1988. GLOBEtrotter was then acquired by Macrovision in 2000, which renamed the product FlexNet.
In 2008 the company was sold to Acresso Software, and it’s name was changed to Flexera. The product was named Flexera FlexNet Publisher, but is still widely referred to as FlexLM. In 2011 the Canadian Teacher’s Private Capital fund acquired Flexera.

Flexnet License Manager operation

The general structure of the Flexnet license manager is shown below:

License server manager

lmadmin or lmgrd FlexLM daemons are supplied either by the licensed FLEXenabled application publisher or by Flexera Software. Its job is to communicate with the application, and receive the license request from it.It then passes the request to the vendor daemon.

Vendor daemon

Created by the publisher, and is unique to each FlexEnabled application installed on the network. It is the vendor daemon’s job to process the license request and to either grant it or deny it, depending on the number of available licenses, and predefined license usage constraints.

License file

Created by your software supplier, and holds detailed license information such as the quantity and time extent of the license

Trusted storage

Some publishers provide trusted storage as an encrypted alternative to using license files.

Debug log and Report log

FlexNet logs written by the license server manager (lmadmin or lmgrd), typically accounting the license check-outs and check-ins, and license denials.

Option Files

Files created by license administrators to restrict license usage to specific users or user groups.

OpenLM fully supports FLEXlm / FlexNet and 20 other license managers. It focuses on a wide array of CAD, GIS and PLM applications, such as AutoCAD, ArcGIS, SolidWorks, MATLAB, Mathcad, CATIA, progeCAD, Bentley, NX, Abaqus, NX IBM Rational, and many others.

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