Houdini 18.5 Reference Stand-alone utilities


The Houdini Launcher downloads, installs, upgrades, and uninstall Houdini and its components.

On this page

The Launcher is pre-release software. It may contain bugs or workflow issues. We appreciate any feedback you send to help us improve it before release.


You can download the Launcher app, then use it to install, manage, and run multiple versions of Houdini. You don’t need to reinstall the launcher when you install a new build of Houdini.

You can start Houdini from the Launcher, or using the traditional methods (desktop app icon, or from the command line in a Houdini shell). You do not need the Launcher to run Houdini.

When you use the Launcher to upgrade Houdini, it downloads the only the parts that have changed. This is a major benefit of using the Launcher, especially for users with slower home Internet connections.

The Launcher also supports offline installation from an ISO image file.

Installing and starting the Launcher


  • Download the installer file from the SideFX download page and run it. Follow the prompts in the installation wizard.

  • Run Houdini Launcher from the start menu.


  • Download the Launcher disk image from the SideFX download page. Open it and drag the Launcher app into the Applications folder.

  • Run the Houdini Launcher app from the Applications folder.


  1. Download the launcher installer file from the SideFX download page.

  2. Open a shell.

  3. CD to where you downloaded the install file.

  4. Run the following line:

    chmod a+x install_houdini_launcher.sh; install_houdini_launcher.sh
  5. Follow the prompts.


Some of the installers may be small programs that download the rest of the data as part of the install. You can also download ISO image versions of the installers that contain all the data. This is useful if you are installing the launcher on multiple machines, or installing on a machine without Internet access.

Installing Houdini offline


Houdini ISO images include the Launcher installer for convenience, if you haven’t already installed the Launcher.

  1. Download the ISO image for the version of Houdini you want to install.

  2. Run the Launcher.

  3. Click the gear menu, then click Installation Source ▸ Choose Offline Install Source.

  4. Navigate to the directory containing the ISO file and click Open.

  5. In the Launcher window, click Houdini on the left. Then click Install Houdini.

Scripting Launcher installations

Launcher can be programmatically retrieved through the SideFX Web API.

  1. Generate credentials for API access.

  2. Download sidefx.py which provides a convenient wrapper to make authenticated calls to our API.

  3. Here is an example which downloads Launcher through our API.

    import sys
    import os
    import stat
    import requests
    import shutil
    import subprocess
    import platform
    import sidefx
    CLIENT_ID = "==Your Client Id=="
    CLIENT_SECRET = "==Your Client Secret=="
    # Return the current platform keyword that can be passed into
    # the SideFX Web API functions if current platform can be
    # recognized; Otherwise, an empty string '' will be returned.
    def get_current_platform():
        current_platform = platform.system()
        if current_platform == 'Windows' or current_platform.startswith('CYGWIN'):
            return 'win64'
        elif current_platform == 'Darwin':
            return 'macos'
        elif current_platform == 'Linux':
            return 'linux'
            return ''
    # Return a sidefx.service object allowing access to API functions.
    def create_service(client_id, client_secret_key):
        return sidefx.service(
    # Download the file specified in "build" argument and return the
    # downloaded filename on success.
    def download_build(service, build):
        platform = get_current_platform()
        build_info = service.download.get_daily_build_download(
            build["product"], build["version"], build["build"], platform)
        download_file(build_info["download_url"], build_info["filename"])
        return build_info["filename"]
    # Download the file hosted on "url" and name it as "filename"
    def download_file(url, filename):
        with requests.get(url, stream=True) as response:
            with open(filename, "wb") as open_file:
                shutil.copyfileobj(response.raw, open_file)
    # Add executable privilege to the file specified in "file_path"
    def make_executable(file_path):
        stat_info = os.stat(file_path)
        os.chmod(file_path, stat.ST_MODE | stat.S_IEXEC | stat.S_IXUSR |
                stat.S_IXGRP | stat.S_IRUSR | stat.S_IRGRP)
    def run():
        product = "houdini-launcher"
        platform = get_current_platform()
        service = create_service(CLIENT_ID, CLIENT_SECRET)
        # Retrieve the daily builds list, if you want the latest production
        # you can skip this step
        builds = service.download.get_daily_builds_list(
            product, version=None, platform=platform, only_production=False)
        # Retrieve the latest daily build available
        launcher_file = download_build(service, builds[0])
        # ==Installation part begins here==
    if __name__ == "__main__":
  4. Installation part of code is platform dependent. The following code can be added to the above script accordingly to automate Launcher installation. Launcher installation path can be customized. On Linux and MacOS, both relative and absolute paths are acceptable, but only absolute paths are supported on Windows.


    # Install Launcher to the "C:\\houdini_launcher" folder, which could be modified
    # to your prefered path.
    # Note this step might require security privileges of superuser on your machine
    # depending on your installation path.
    # If so, please run the command shell as administrator.
    subprocess.call(["./install-houdini-launcher.exe", "/S", "/D=C:\\houdini_launcher"])


    # Mount the Launcher ".dmg" file.
    subprocess.call(["hdiutil", "attach", launcher_file])
    # Create "houdini_launcher" folder if not exists
    if not os.path.exists("houdini_launcher"):
    # Install Launcher to "houdini_launcher" folder next to current script, 
    # which could be modified to your prefered path.
    subprocess.call(["cp", "-R", "/Volumes/Houdini/Houdini Launcher.app", "houdini_launcher"])
    # Unmount the Launcher ".dmg" file
    subprocess.call(["hdiutil", "unmount", "/Volumes/Houdini"])


    # Install Launcher to "houdini_launcher" folder next to current script, 
    # which could be modified to your prefered path.
    # Note this step might require security privileges of superuser on your machine
    # depending on your installation path.
    # If so, please run the python script with `sudo`.
    subprocess.call(["./install_houdini_launcher.sh", "houdini_launcher"])

Scripting Houdini installations

The Launcher is a graphical program, however the install includes a command-line executable. This is useful for performing installations remotely or in a script.

The non-graphical command-line executable is called houdini_installer.


The command line programs are in C:/Program Files/SideFX/launcher/bin by default.


The command line programs are inside the /Applications/Houdini Launcher app bundle, in Contents/MacOS.


The command line programs are in /opt/sidefx_launcher/bin by default.

To...Do this

Get ready to install

  1. Create a login file. This is a plain text file with your SideFX.com account user name on the first line, and your password on the second line.

    You can pass the filename of this file to the --login-file option to allow houdini_installer to log in without user input.

  2. Copy down the date of the end user license agreement (EULA) associated with the version of Houdini you want to install.

    You can pass the date in YYYY-MM-DD format to the --accept-EULA option to allow houdini_installer to accept the EULA without user input.

Script installation

  1. Run the following command:

    houdini_installer install 18.5.355 --login-file filename --accept-EULA=YYYY-MM-DD-of-EULA-date


The Houdini version string (18.5.355 in this example) may contain extra qualifiers, for example while Python 3 is a separate build you would install it with 18.5.355-py3.

Script offline installation

  1. Download the ISO image file for the Houdini version you want to install and your OS.

    You can use the Download API to automate downloads.

  2. Run the following command:

    houdini_installer install --offline-installer iso-file --login-file filename --accept-EULA=YYYY-MM-DD-of-EULA-date

See the install subcommand below for more information.

Command line options

The general form for running houdini_installer is:

houdini_installer [global_opts] subcommand [subcommand_opts]

…where subcommand is install, modify, uninstall, repair, or list.

You can run just:

houdini_install --help

…to display help information.

The global options are:

-h, --help

Display help.

-q, --quiet

Suppress non-error output.

-v, --verbose

Print more progress information.

--login-file file

Read user name and password from file.

-o, --log-file file

Write a detailed installation log to file. This does not affect the progress information written to stdout.

Common options across the install, modify, and repair subcommands are:

--accept-EULA YYYY-MM-DD

Indicate acceptance of the End User License Agreement with the given date.

--offline-installer path

The location of an offline installer file.

install subcommand

Installs a new product/version.

houdini_installer [options] install [install_options] product version [installdir]



One of Houdini, "Engine 3ds Max|Maya|Unity|Unreal", "License Server", "HQueue Client", or "HQueue Server". Note that product names containing spaces must be enclosed in quotes, for example:

houdini_installer install "Engine Maya"


The Houdini version to install, including the build number.

Optional arguments:


The directory to install to.


--platform platform

The platform identifier for the build to install.

modify subcommand

Moves and/or upgrades the version of an existing installation.

houdini_installer [options] modify [modify_options] installdir

Required argument:


The directory containing the installation directory.


--installdir installdir

The directory to move the installation to.

--version version

The version to update to.

--platform platform

The platform identifier for the build to install.

uninstall subcommand

Removes an installed product/version.

houdini_installer [options] uninstall [uninstall_options] installdir

Required argument:


The directory containing the installation to uninstall.

repair subcommand

Tries to fix problems with a broken installation (for example, missing files).

houdini_installer [options] repair [repair_options] installdir

Required argument:


The directory containing the installation to repair.

list subcommand

Lists installed products/versions.

houdini_installer [options] list [directory]...

Optional argument(s):


The install directories to list details about. If none are given, it will list details about all installations.

Stand-alone utilities

  • abcconvert

    Convert between Alembic formats.

  • abcecho

    Print information about an Alembic file.

  • abcinfo

    Print information about an Alembic file.

  • chchan

    Copies channel collection to/from action channel format.

  • chcp

    Copies channel collection file to another format.

  • chinfo

    Prints information about a channel collection file.

  • claudio

    Copies CHOP data (clip) to/from audio formats.

  • clchan

    Copies CHOP data (clip) to/from action channel format.

  • clchn

    Copies CHOP data (clip) to/from channel collection format.

  • clcp

    Copies CHOP data (clip) to another format.

  • clinfo

    Prints information about a CHOP data (clip) file.

  • dsmconvert

  • dsmmerge

  • dsparse

    Parses and displays dialog scripts.

  • gabc

    Convert between Alembic and Houdini geometry.

  • gconvert

    Convert between Houdini polygon formats.

  • gdxf

    Converts DXF polygons to/from Houdini format.

  • geodiff

    Display Geometry Differences.

  • geps

    Converts EPS files to Houdini polygon format.

  • giges

  • ginfo

    Prints polygon file statistics.

  • glightwave

    Converts LightWave files to/from Houdini format.

  • gpdb

    Converts .pdb files to/from Houdini format.

  • gplay

    Geometry viewer.

  • gply

    Converts .ply files to/from Houdini format.

  • gptex

    Makes a ptexture image file from a geometry file.

  • greduce

    Reduces polygons in a file.

  • gwavefront

    Converts .obj files to/from Houdini format.

  • hbrickmap

    Converts an i3d file or volume primitive geo/bgeo file into a Pixar brickmap file.

  • hcollapse

    Collapses a directory structure.

  • hcpio

  • hexpand

    Expands hip files into a directory structure.

  • hkey / License Administrator

    Opens a graphical user interface for viewing and managing licenses and license server options.

  • hrender

  • hsc

  • hscript

    Command line HScript interpreter.

  • hserver

    Houdini communicates through this proxy server to the sesinetd licensing daemon.

  • husk

    Command line utility for rendering a USD file using Karma or some other Hydra client.

  • i3dconvert

  • iautocrop

    Crops images based on pixel values.

  • icineon

    Convert images from 10-bit Cineon format to an 8 bit format.

  • icomposite

  • iconvert

    Converts image formats.

  • icp

    Isolate a region of an image in a new image.

  • idenoise

    Removes noise from an image file.

  • idiff

    Display Image Differences.

  • iflip - Flip Image

  • iinfo

    Outputs information about an image.

  • ilut

    Generates a lookup table (LUT) from standard channel formats or another LUT.

  • ilutcomp

    Generates a single lookup table (LUT) from from two LUTs.

  • ilutinfo

    Prints information about a lookup table (LUT) file.

  • imaketx

    Creates mipmapped .exr or .rat textures from image files.

  • imdisplay

    Sends an image to an mdisplay window.

  • iprint

    Prints the RGBA values for an image as text.

  • iquantize

    Reduces the number of colors in an image.

  • isixpack

    Generates an environment/reflection map from six images representing the six sides of a cube, or a cross image.

  • itilestitch

    Assemble a series of image files with crop windows into a single image.

  • izg

    Converts Z-depth images to 8-bit grayscale images.

  • Launcher

    The Houdini Launcher downloads, installs, upgrades, and uninstall Houdini and its components.

  • mcacclaim

    Converts an Acclaim motion file to a Houdini script and channel file(s).

  • mcbiovision

    Converts a BioVision motion file to a Houdini script and channel file(s).

  • mcmotanal

    Converts a Motion Analysis TRC motion file to a Houdini script and channel file(s).

  • mcp

    Convert an image sequence to a movie file.

  • minfo

    Prints information about movie files.

  • mqserver

    Message Queue Server for PDG/TOPs

  • sesictrl

    Sets Houdini license server options from the command line.

  • sesinetd

    The Houdini license server. This program runs in the background managing Houdini licenses.

  • siminfo

    Prints simulation cache file statistics.

  • spiff

    Display Text Differences.

  • spy

    Shell utility for navigating the UNIX filesystem.

  • vexcache

    Query or modify the VEX compile cache.

  • vexexec

    Execute a cvex shader.