Education Institution FAQs


What are Education licenses

The Houdini Educational license is a special learning license that can only be purchased by education institutions, not by students or other individuals.

Education licenses are floating licenses. This allows a central machine to easily serve client computers on the network. You can, however, license computers individually if needed.

1 Education license subscription has three parts:

  • 1 FX Education license
  • 10 Renderer (Non-Commercial) licenses
  • 10 Education Engine licenses

Education Licenses

What each license does:

Houdini Education

  • The license to open the Houdini FX interface.

Renderer (Indie/Apprentice)

  • To use the Mantra renderer.
  • If you would like to render within Houdini, to render a picture, or to use Mplay.
  • You should hold as many of these licenses as you have total machines, (workstations + render machines).
  • These licenses are free.

Houdini Engine Education

  • To use Houdini non-graphically.
  • Command-line renders and simulations on remote render machines.
  • Open pre-made Houdini Digital Assets (HDAs) within Maya, 3dsMax, Unreal, Unity and C4D.
  • You should hold as many Houdini Engine Education licenses as you have renderfarm machines.

If you are licensing individual machines and not using a central license server, a machine that already has the Houdini Education license does not need a Houdini Engine Education license. Save the Houdini Engine Education license for your renderfarm machine.

To compare Houdini Education with other Houdini products: www.sidefx.com/products/compare/

How Houdini licensing works

The license management system is based on a client/server model with a license server running on one server and the applications running on one or more clients. Generally the server and client are different machines on a network.

The license server software and client application may be installed together on a single machine – this is how it is used for workstation licenses.

  • sesinetd - the license server program
  • hserver - the client helper program that communicates with sesinetd

The license server (sesinetd) keeps track of the licenses and their activity (whether they are checked out or available for use). When a Houdini product needs a license, it communicates with hserver, which is a helper program running on the client. Hserver communicates with the license server (sesinetd). It is the license server (sesinetd) that grants licenses to valid clients and collects licenses when Houdini applications terminate. If there is no hserver running on the client, Houdini will not start.

  • On Linux and Mac OSX, hserver is started automatically when you start a Houdini application, or it can be started manually.
  • On Windows, both hserver and the license server are started as Services named HoudiniServer and HoudiniLicenseServer respectively.

Licensing diagram for a local client and a remote license server:

Remote License

Licensing diagram for a server and client on the same machine:

Local License

Student use
  • Educational licenses may only be purchased by education institutions, not by students or other individuals.
  • Students may work with Apprentice or Indie licenses at home and bring their files to the school lab.
  • Educational licenses allows you to create Houdini digital assets.
  • The files saved using Education licenses are in Apprentice format.
  • There is an online conversion tool that students can use to change files back into Indie format if that is the license they have at home.

Please contact support@sidefx.com to have access to the online conversion tool.

Download

Please see our system requirements page to see what hardware and operating systems are supported.

There is only one installation package for all users: Apprentice, Indie, Commercial, and Education. The installed licenses determine which features are available in the application and what restrictions are imposed on its use.

To download the installation package:

  • Go to www.sidefx.com → Get → Download
  • Please login to download Houdini. If you are new, you can register here
  • If you cannot access your account, try resetting your password here

The Download button will auto-select the appropriate build based on the operating system. Links to other operating systems are provided.

If you want to download a specific build or version, please refer to Houdini builds.

Install (Windows)

Run the Houdini setup program by double-clicking the downloaded executable.

You do not need to Run as Administrator. As long as your user account has permissions to install programs, you should be fine.

Install the License Server component if:

  • This computer is to serve licenses to client machines.
  • Licensing an individual workstation and not using a license server.

If this is a client machine and will use a remote license server, you do not need to install the License Server component.

Apprentice Windows Install

Once installed, the application is available by default through:

  • Start Menu → All Programs → Side Effects Software → Houdini Indie 18.0.x

You will be prompted to install Indie licenses when you launch the software.

The following two services (found in Services.msc) will need to be in the running state for Houdini to function:

  • HoudiniServer (client program to interact with the license server)
  • HoudiniLicenseServer (license server)
Install (Mac OSX)

Run the Houdini setup program by double-clicking the downloaded .dmg file.

Install the License Server component if:

  • This computer is to serve licenses to client machines.
  • Licensing an individual workstation and not using a license server.

If this is a client machine and will use a remote license server, you do not need to install the License Server component.

Apprentice Mac OSX Install

Once installed, the application is available by default through:

  • Go → Applications → Houdini → Houdini 18.0.x → Houdini Indie 18.0.x

You will be prompted to install Indie licenses when you launch the software.

Install (Linux)

The installer must be run using sudo.

Note:
Make sure that the install file is not located in root's home folder (/root) as this will give you permission errors during the install process.

Install the License Server component if:

  • This computer is to serve licenses to client machines.
  • Licensing an individual workstation and not using a license server.

If this is a client machine and will use a remote license server, you do not need to install the License Server component.

To install:

  • Open a Terminal
  • Unpack the downloaded tar.gz archive and go into the unpacked directory
  • Run the houdini.install script using sudo
  • Make sure to select the License Server component in the installer.

You can also double click on the houdini.install file with your mouse. It will run the installer in a terminal.

Apprentice Linux Install

An example of installing Houdini from the Terminal:

  • $ tar -xvf houdini-18.0.287-linux_x86_64_gcc6.3.tar.gz
  • This should create a directory called houdini-18.0.287-linux_x86_64_gcc6.3
  • Run the houdini.install script:
  • $ cd houdini-18.0.287-linux_x86_64_gcc6.3
  • $ sudo ./houdini.install

To launch Houdini from the Terminal, type the following:

  • cd /opt/hfs18.0 [press Enter]
  • source houdini_setup [press Enter]
  • houdini [press Enter]

This should setup the Houdini environment for you.

Silent install/uninstall

For silent installs run the installer with /? for documentation:

houdini-18.0.xxx-win64.exe /?

The /Registry option ("Yes" or "No", default "Yes") controls whether or not the installer will create Registry keys when installing Houdini. This mostly impacts whether or not the version of Houdini will show up in the Add/Remove Programs list.

It is recommended to use the defaults unless you have specific needs, such as installing Houdini on a shared network path. You cannot cannot define the "License Server Path" with the /Registry option.

To set the License Server

  • The easiest method is to configure a DNS SRV record.
  • Client machines should automatically find the Houdini license server.

Linux or Mac OSX:

  • hserver -S server-name
  • A hidden file in users's home directory called .sesi_licenses.pref
  • This hidden file will contain one line: serverhost=license-servername

Windows:

  • reg add "hklm\software\Side Effects Software\Houdini" /v ~LicenseServer /t reg_sz /d server-name /f

To uninstall:

Run the uninstall.exe located in Program Files -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini 18.0.xxx.

Type /? for options

Type /S for silent.

License the software

Once your account has been setup, the system will send an activation email. This will be for your licensing account so you may install licenses using the License Administrator (hkey). Your email address will also receive other notifications from the system such as new license entitlements to be installed, upgrades or extensions to existing licenses. Please ensure that you have licensemanager@sidefx.com whitelisted in your spam settings.

You will have two ways to configure licensing for your lab.

  1. Setup a central network license server to serve the client computers.

    • Ideal for labs/classrooms.
    • Easier licenses administration.
    • Client computers will need to be configured to look to the license server.
  2. No central server. License individual workstations.

    • Depending on the size of your lab, this might be more work than setting up a central license server.
    • Each machine will act as both client and server to itself. Ensure to install the License Server component during install.

Houdini instructors with a single Education subscription may license their machines individually..

Education Licenses

Network license server
  • Education customers are issued floating (networked) licenses.
  • Install licenses to a machine that will be a central license server.
  • Point the client machines to the license server.
  • The license server program is called sesinetd and by default, TCP port 1715.

About your Houdini License Server:

  • Use a machine with a high uptime (not rebooted or turned off often).
  • A virtual machine (VM) may be used.
  • Refer to system requirements.
  • Open the firewall ports.
  • Ensure to select the License Server in the installer.

Setup the server and clients:

  1. Download Houdini onto the machine to be the license server.
  2. Install Houdini. Select the License Server component (sesinetd) from the installer.
  3. Launch the License Administrator (hkey) on the server to install licenses.
  4. Download and Install Houdini onto the client computers. License Server component not needed.
  5. Launch the License Administrator on the client machine and point to the license server.

License servers running Windows or OSX:

  • Even if the machine is only running the license server, you will have to install Houdini.

License servers running Linux:

  • Option of only installing the license server (sesinetd).
  • Use the license server install script sesinetd.install.
Configure client machines

Use the License Administrator (hkey) on the client machine to look to the central license server.

  1. Open the License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Go to File -> Change License Server
  3. Type the name of the machine that is serving the licenses

Clients can automatically find your Houdini license server using a DNS SRV record.

Linux or Mac OSX:

  • hserver -S server-name
  • A hidden file in users's home directory called .sesi_licenses.pref
  • This hidden file will contain one line: serverhost=license-servername

Windows:

  • reg add "hklm\software\Side Effects Software\Houdini" /v ~LicenseServer /t reg_sz /d server-name /f
License individual workstations
  • If not configuring a central license server and licensing individual machines.

By starting Houdini for the first time or without a license, you will be prompted to install either:

  • Apprentice (free) license
  • Paid License

Choose the second option: I have a paid license for Houdini and click Next.

  1. Press the License Settings button to start the License Administrator (hkey).
  2. Press the Login to get started button or go to File->Login.
  3. Press the Check for Entitlements to install button or go to File->Install Licenses.
  4. The machine will only need the Quantity 1 of each license.

Education Licenses

Note:

  • The License Administrator (hkey) displays the licenses installed on the local machine.
  • If you cannot login to your account to install licenses, try resetting the password.
Upgrade the license server software

The license server should be at the same point version as the keystrings you are serving.
For example, if you are serving 18.0 keystrings, it is ideal to have your license server version at 18.0.

Please check the system requirements to ensure your operating system is supported for Houdini licensing.

To upgrade your Houdini License Server software:

  1. Download the latest Production or Daily build of the Houdini version you are looking to install.

  2. Run the installer, ensuring to install the License Server component.

    • For Linux you do have the option of installing only the license server sesinetd (sesinetd.install).
    • For Windows and OSX, you must install the full Houdini package.
      Ensure the license server is checked. This will upgrade the existing sesinetd (sesinetd.exe) program sesinetd.

  3. During the installation process, the license server component will be automatically restarted. This should take only a minute.

The license server software will serve keystrings up to one full version higher.
For example, if you are running a license server at version 16.5, you may serve only up to 17.5 keystrings. You will not be able to serve 18.0.

If you are running a central license server, we do recommend alerting your users that an upgrade will take place. It will be important for them to save their files during this time as a precaution. In general, an upgrade of the license server software will not impact users. The heartbeat is set for approximately 20 minutes. This means that if a client machine is not able to make contact with the central license server in that time, the active Houdini session will close.

The license server program is called sesinetd.

Upgrade licenses
  • Upgrades are to be applied to installed licenses.
  • Please check your licensing account for upgrade entitlements.
  • Using the License Administrator is the easiest way to upgrade licenses.

To install upgrades:

  1. Download and install the latest Production Build or the latest Daily Build.
  2. Launch the License Administrator on the machine.
    • If this is a central license server then you only need to do this on the server machine itself.
    • If licensed machines individually, repeat this process for each machine.
  3. Login to your licensing account.
  4. Press the Check for License Entitlements button or go to File->Install Licenses
  5. Press the Install button.

This process will generate the keystrings and install your upgrades. The keystrings will be written to the licenses file on the machine automatically.

Please make sure all licenses installed on the machine have been upgraded, including Mantra.

Education License Upgrade

Move licenses
  • Houdini licenses are registered to both the computer hardware and computer name.
  • Not enough that you uninstall Houdini from the computer to move your licenses.
  • Use the License Administrator to release the licenses from the computer.
  • Release the licenses by returning them back to your account at SideFX.

To move licenses:

Education License Return

Note:

  • You cannot use the web portal to move your licenses.
  • Licenses must be moved from the machine with the licenses, using the License Administrator.
Extend licenses
  • Once finance has confirmed payment, extension licenses are sent.
  • Apply the extensions to the installed licenses for the new expiry date to take effect.
  • The License Administrator is the easiest way to apply a new expiry date to licenses.

To install the new expiry date:

  1. Launch the License Administrator on the machine.
    • If this is a central license server then you only need to do this on the server machine itself.
    • If licensed machines individually, repeat this process for each machine.
  2. Login to your licensing account.
  3. Press the Check for License Entitlements button or go to File->Install Licenses
  4. Press the Install button.

This process will generate the keystrings and install your new expiry dates. The keystrings will be written to the licenses file on the machine automatically.

Education License Extend

Houdini Engine

Houdini Engine is a non-graphical version of Houdini.

  • Run command-line renders or simulations on remote render machines.
  • A plugin to load Houdini Digital Assets (HDAs) within Maya, 3dsMax, Unreal, Unity and C4D.
  • Students will need to work with Education licenses at school to run Engine in Maya, 3dsMax, Unreal, Unity, or C4D.

Houdini Engine Pipeline

Rendering

Houdini rendering process is divided into two parts:

IFD generation, (similar to generating renderman rib files), and "writing" the pixels themselves.

When you hit the render button in Houdini, the IFD generation can be done either in the background, (where the .ifd is simply written to memory and not to disk), or you can choose to write the .ifd to disk. This part of the process takes either a Houdini-FX, Houdini-Core or a Houdini-Engine license.

The pixel writing part uses a Render (mantra) license. If you had previously rendered .ifd files to disk, you can distribute those to the render farm, and use the Render (mantra) licenses to generate the final picture.

Generally, our users will have a queueing software, (such as our Hqueue), that will distribute the IFD generation depending on how many Houdini-FX, Houdini-Core and Houdini-Engine licenses you have. Once the IFD generation is done, the queueing software will then distribute the renders to the render machines, depending on how many mantra licenses are available, (please remember mantra licenses are free).

If you do not hold an Engine license. You can render the IFDs to disk with the interactive session of Houdini, and then distribute the IFDs to be renderer by the mantra tokens.

Having Houdini-Engine licenses helps you speed up your renders, as the IFD writing part is the most time consuming. At the same time, having an Engine license allows your artists to keep working on their Houdini files.

HQueue

HQueue is Houdini’s distributed render and simulation manager

It is a general-purpose job management system that distributes, monitors and manages tasks across a collection of computing nodes, or client machines. It specializes in managing render and dynamic simulation jobs submitted from Houdini. However, it be customized to work with any job from any application.

www.sidefx.com/docs/houdini/hqueue

Houdini license management

Please refer to the general License Management FAQ for things such as:

  • licensing a system without graphics
  • starting/stopping the license server
  • server logging
  • options to the server or client
  • floating licenses between networks
  • firewall setup
  • installing licenses without Internet
  • remotely manage the license server
  • how Houdini licensing works
Houdini builds

Daily builds

SideFX provides new builds of Houdini almost every day. These daily builds contain bug fixes and small improvements to the software. The detailed list of fixes is available in the journal under the Support menu. By installing a daily build, users are often able to benefit right away from our agile development process.

Production builds

SideFX periodically designates a daily build of Houdini as a "production build". Production builds are released almost monthly and have gone through the full quality assurance process, so they are at least as stable as the original. It is thus advisable to upgrade from time to time, particularly from one production build to another to take full advantage of new improvements.

Troubleshooting

These are the most common issues with downloading, installing, or licensing Indie:

Can’t log into the website to download the software

Pop-up error warnings

Sometimes resetting your Houdini preferences will help resolve issues.

The most common pop-up errors:

SSL Error when trying to login using the License Administrator

  • Windows 7: TLS 1.2 is not enabled by default. To enable will require a registry edit. Windows 7 is now unsupported for Houdini.
  • Mac OSX High Sierra: Contact support for instructions on how to install a new system security certificate.

General Crashes

License diagnostic

To generate a diagnostic printout for debugging licensing issues:

  1. Start the Houdini License Administrator (hkey).
  2. Under the View menu, select "Diagnostic Information".
  3. Save the file.

Apprentice Diagnostic File

You may also press the "Email License Diagnostic to Technical Support" button from the Server Information tab in the License Administrator. This will launch your email program with the diagnostic file.

Apprentice Diagnostic Button

Machine information

If you are experiencing crashes or other errors using Houdini, please send your machine information along with the license diagnostic and any generated crash logs to support@sidefx.com.

  1. Launch Houdini -> Help -> About Houdini -> click on "Show Details".
  2. Save the file using the "save” button at the bottom.
  3. Attach the file along with the license diagnostic in an email addressed to support@sidefx.com.

Apprentice About Houdini

You may also press the "Email Crash Report to Technical Support" button from the Server Information tab in the License Administrator. This will launch the file browser to locate the crash.*_log.txt file.

Apprentice Diagnostic Button

Crash logs

Locating crash logs:

Windows
The crash error pop-up should tell you where the crash log has been written to. Most often it will be in your home directory under AppData. Ensure you select "Hidden Items" under the View menu in your file browser.

For example:

  • C:/Users/username/AppData/Local/Temp/houdini_temp

Mac OSX

  • On OSX crash logs are saved in /tmp.
  • You can only see this directory through a Terminal (Utilities->Terminal), not through the interface.

Linux

  • On Linux, the crash logs are saved in /tmp/houdini_temp

You may also press the "Email Crash Report to Technical Support" button from the Server Information tab in the License Administrator. This will launch the file browser to locate the crash.*_log.txt file.

Apprentice Diagnostic Button

Contacting support

If you are experiencing difficulties with licensing Houdini:

  1. Generate the License Diagnostic.
  2. Attach the diagnostic file to an email addressed to support@sidefx.com

If you are having other issues such as crashes or error messages:

  1. Follow the steps above to provide the support team with the License Diagnostic.
  2. Attach any crash logs generated.
  3. If Houdini will stay open long enough, attach the reported machine information.