License Management FAQs


What are the Houdini product keystrings?

The following table illustrates shows the license string required for each product type:
Note: Renderer is Mantra renderer.

License Category Product Name Product License String Default Qty
Commercial Houdini FX Houdini FX 1
Renderer 5
Karma Renderer 5
Houdini Core Houdini Core 1
Renderer 5
Karma Renderer 5
Houdini Engine Houdini Engine 1
Renderer 1
Karma Renderer 1
Houdini Engine for Unity/Unreal Houdini-Engine-PlugIn-Free 1
Limited Commercial Houdini Indie Houdini Indie 2
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 2
Karma Renderer (Non-Commercial) 2
Houdini Engine Indie Houdini Engine Indie 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Karma Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Educational Houdini Education Houdini Education 1
Houdini FX (Non-Commercial) 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 10
Karma Renderer (Non-Commercial) 10
Houdini Engine Education Houdini Engine Education 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Karma Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Non-Commercial Houdini Apprentice Houdini FX (Non-Commercial) 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Karma Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1

About Houdini product keystrings

A new keystring begins at the keyword: SERVER, LICENSE, UPGRADE or EXTEND.

The SERVER keystring is a keystring which authenticates the computer to run Houdini licenses.

A Houdini product keystring begins with the word LICENSE. The LICENSE keystring has an ID associated to it called the License ID. This is how we track the product, quantity, version, expiry, and support status of the license.

Action keystrings begins with UPGRADE or EXTEND or CHANGEIP. These are applied to a currently installed License ID (or, product keystring).

When you return a license, you must return the License ID itself. This will return the product keystring.

How does Houdini licensing work?

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.

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 (network license):

Remote License

Licensing diagram for a server and client on the same machine (workstation license):

Local License

How do I use sesictrl?

"sesictrl" is a license utility that communicates either with the local hserver or with the (possibly remote) sesinetd license daemon. If you run sesictrl with the "-h hostname" option, sesictrl will contact that host (specified by hostname) for the license information. Otherwise, it will query the local hserver as long as there is an hserver process running.

Usage: sesictrl [-h host] -I key_info
            Install a license manually

Usage: sesictrl [-h host] [-p host -P port] [-A <email> <password>] -L [<entitlement name> <quantity>]...
            Redeem license entitlements
            Email and password can be optionally specified with -A. Otherwise,
            prompts for a login.
            Entitlement name and quantity can be optionally specified.
            Otherwise, prompts for selection. For example, entitlement name
            and quantity can be:
                "Houdini FX" "1"
                "Houdini Core 17.5" "3"
                "Render 17.5" "all"
                "Houdini Core" "all"

Usage: sesictrl [-p host -P port] [-A <email> <password>] -d id
            Return a license for entitlements
            (Specify the 8 character license id listed by sesictrl -s.)
            Email and password can be optionally specified with -A. Otherwise,
            prompts for a login.

Usage: sesictrl [-h host] -r server_name server_id
            Remove server from license file

Usage: sesictrl [-h host] [options]
  -q        Shutdown the existing license manager
  -Q        Shutdown manager without prompting
  -e days   When listing keys, show only keys expiring within N days
  -a        When listing keys, show expired keys as well
  -i        Long List licenses
  -n        Generate server key
  -s        Short list of licenses
  -p host   Specify the http proxy host name for returning licenses.  If
            $HTTP_PROXY is set, you do not need to use this option.
  -P port   Specify the http proxy port for returning licenses.
  -R id     Relinquish a license, returning it to the pool
  -l file   Specify log file
  -v        Print sesinetd version
  -f        Generate diagnostic information
  -V level  Specify log level
                 0 = no logging
                 1 = errors
                 2 = messages
                 3 = info
                 4 = debug
  -z size   Specify maximum log file size
  -u file   Specify license log file
  -W level  Specify license log level
               0 = off
               1 = on
  -y size   Specify maximum license log file size

sesictrl typically communicates with a sesinetd running
on a remote host.  The -h option can be used to specify
the host to contact.  Otherwise, sesictrl will query the
hserver (if it's running) to find out what the license
host is.

Use sesictrl --help for more options.

What is the hserver (client program)?

The hserver client helper program communicates with the local or remote sesinetd (license server) program to acquire licenses. In a client/server model, hserver is the client and sesientd is the server. The hserver program is included in every Houdini installation. It is automatically started when a Houdini application is first launched.

On Windows, the hserver program is normally installed as a service called HoudiniServer. Starting with Houdini 18.5.500, hserver can be run as a non-service application similar to hserver on Linux/OSX. This feature is opt-in and is based on if the service is installed which tells hserver if it should be run as a service or not.

For configuration options and more information about hserver please refer to the hserver documentation.

Firewall Configuration

hserver: TCP port 1714
sesinetd: TCP port 1715

How can hserver be used?

License server chaining

This configuration allows the client to query multiple license servers. This allows license servers to be broken up based on whatever specification you may have (i.e. license product type). For more information on chaining please refer to the online documentation

hserver -S "licenseserverA;licenseserverB"

HTTP communication

To enable http communication for the HoudiniServer specify the protocol in the connection url. For more information on HTTP communication with hserver, please refer to the online documentation.

hserver -S http://licenseservername
What is sesinetd?

The Houdini license server.

  • sesinetd is the license server daemon (program). It serves Houdini licenses to local or remote client machines.
  • Must be in the running state for any Houdini products to open, including Apprentice.
  • By default listens on TCP port 1715. This may be changed.
  • The client License Administrator (hkey) or non-graphical sesictrl will connect to sesinetd for license information or administration.

To control the behaviour of the license server daemon (sesinetd), there is a control file called sesinetd.options that may be configured.

For more information, refer to the sesinetd documentation.

How do i use the non-graphical License Administrator?

The License Administrator (hkey) is a GUI-based utility. You can use sesictrl to perform some of the operations that the License Administrator does. These operations are:

The easiest way to install license entitlements is to run:

sesictrl redeem

You will be prompted for your licensing email login and password. After you are logged in, you can follow the instructions given to you.

To manually install keystrings that have already been generated:

sesictrl install keystring

A new keystring begins at the keyword: SERVER, LICENSE, INCREMENT, UPGRADE or EXTEND.

For more information on how to have keystrings generated, read the section How do I install licenses without Internet Access.

How can I Start/stop the license server?

The license server is called sesinetd.

You must have "admin" rights (root, sudo) to be able to stop/start the license server.

Windows

You can start and stop the HoudiniLicenseServer in the Services area of Windows.

  1. Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services
  2. The service HoudiniLicenseServer controls the license server program sesinetd.

Linux

  1. Usage: /etc/init.d/sesinetd {start|stop}

Mac

  1. Launch the Terminal from Utilities
  2. To stop the license server: sudo launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.sidefx.sesinetd.plist
  3. To start the license server: sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.sidefx.sesinetd.plist

If you receive an error saying /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.sidefx.sesinetd.plist: No such file or directory, please reinstall Houdini and choose Commercial Licensing. This will install the necessary license server files.

When you restart the license server software on a centralized server machine, the remote clients will not lose their sessions for approximately 5 minutes of a failed heartbeat (or license check).

How do I enable hserver logging?

Restart hserver after modifying the options file.

Add these options to the hserver options file:

logfile=C:\hserver.log
debugMode=1
enableHttp=1

Modify the logfile to the path where you would like the file to be written to.

Please refer to www.sidefx.com/docs/houdini/ref/utils/hserver.html#optfile

What is the licenses file?
  • The keystrings are located in a file on the computer called licenses.
  • There should be nothing appended to the licenses file (no .doc, .rtf or .txt).

Depending on the operating system, the location of the licenses file:

Windows: C:/Windows/keys/licenses

Linux: /usr/lib/sesi/licenses

Mac: /Library/Preferences/sesi/licenses

If you are sent a copy of the licenses file for your machine from SideFX, you may need to restart the license server.

How can I setup the Houdini environment for command line usage?

If you would like to use the command line to run certain Houdini programs and commands, you must set up what's called an "environment". This means that Houdini will be able to find all the directories and programs that it needs in order to run the command you tell it to (for example, sesictrl).

Windows

  • Programs -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini 18.5.xxx -> bin -> hcmd.exe
  • You can also do a system search for Command Line Tools

Linux

  1. cd path to Houdini installation
  2. source houdini_setup
    • Example:
      $ cd /opt/hfs18.5.xxx
      $ source houdini_setup

This is useful to put into login scripts so you can have the environment setup upon login.

Mac

  • Applications -> Houdini -> Houdini 18.0.xxx -> Utilities -> Houdini Terminal 18.5.xxx
How are Licenses acquired from the license server?

These license acquisition tables list what licenses are checked by Houdini applications through the client helper program hserver.

The tables below are based on how the client starts hserver. The column to the left refers to the product or license type that will be requested from the license server. The column on the right refers to the product that the client is asking for (based on the commands):

Product Name Keystring Name Executable Name(s)
Houdini FX Houdini-Master houdini, houdinifx
Houdini Core Houdini-Escape houdinicore
Houdini Engine [Batch] Houdini-Engine hbatch,hython
Houdini Engine [Plug-in] Houdini-Engine N/A [open with plug-in]

Note that running hbatch -R will request a non-graphics token. It will not attempt to checkout a graphical token.

The number in brackets indicates the order in which the licenses are checked for a given application.

For more information on running hserver, please refer to the section What kind of options are available to hserver? of the License Management section of the FAQ.

Client runs hserver:

License houdinifx houdinicore hbatch hbatch -R Engine Plug-in
Houdini FX yes no yes (4) no yes (3)
Houdini Core no yes yes (3) no yes (2)
Houdini Engine no no yes (1) yes yes (1)

Client runs hserver -n (i.e. non-graphical only):

License houdinifx houdinicore hbatch hbatch -R Engine Plug-in
Houdini FX no no no no yes (3)
Houdini Core no no no no yes (2)
Houdini Engine no no yes yes yes (1)

Client runs hserver -n -g (i.e. relaxed non-graphical):

License houdinifx houdinicore hbatch hbatch -R Engine Plug-in
Houdini FX yes no no no yes (3)
Houdini Core no yes no no yes (2)
Houdini Engine no no yes yes yes (1)

In order to use the following hserver options you must be running version 8.2.856 and higher

Client runs hserver -G (i.e. graphical only):

License houdinifx houdinicore hbatch hbatch -R Engine Plug-in
Houdini FX yes no yes (2) no yes (3)
Houdini Core no yes yes (1) no yes (2)
Houdini Engine no no no no yes (1)

Client runs hserver -G -g (i.e. relaxed graphical only):

License houdinifx houdinicore hbatch hbatch -R Engine Plug-in
Houdini FX yes no yes (2) no yes (3)
Houdini Core no yes yes (1) no yes (2)
Houdini Engine no no yes (3) yes yes (1)

Note: As of Houdini 13.0, the Houdini Batch license has been superseded by the Houdini Engine license. As of Houdini 8.2, the Non-Graphical, Render Script and Select licenses no longer exist. Houdini Non-Graphical and Render Script are now included in the Houdini Engine license.

What tools are used for Houdini licensing?

The licensing tools for Houdini are:

hkey: A graphical licensing tool for managing licenses. Also known as License Administrator.
sesictrl: The non-graphical "hkey". Use this to perform license operations in the terminal shell.
sesinetd: The license server daemon/service.
hserver: The client helper program that acquires licenses by communicating with sesinetd.

The location of licensing tools:

Windows
* hkey, sesictrl: C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini 18.0.xxx\bin
* sesinetd, hserver: C:\Windows\system32

Linux
* hkey, hserver: /opt/hfs18.0.xxx/bin
* sesinetd, sesictrl: /opt/hfs18.0.xxx/houdini/sbin

Mac:
* hkey, hserver: /Applications/Houdini/Houdini18.0.xxx/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/bin
* sesinetd, sesictrl: /Applications/Houdini/Houdini18.0.xxx/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/houdini/sbin

The License Administrator (hkey) is the easiest way to install or manage Houdini licenses.

If you are running a headless system (a machine without a graphical display), please refer to to Using the License Administrator non-graphically on the general License Management FAQ.

Windows:

  • Start menu -> All Programs -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini version -> Administrative Tools -> License Administrator

Linux:

  • Applications -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini version -> Administrative Tools -> License Administrator

  • Or open a Terminal and type:
    cd /opt/hfs18.0
    source houdini_setup
    hkey

Mac:
* Applications -> Houdini -> Houdini 18.0.xxx -> Administrative Tools -> License Administrator

The License Administrator connects to Side Effects Software using port 80 (http). If you require a proxy to access the web, please see this section.

From Houdini 14, OpenGL is no longer required to run License Administrator.

If you are having difficulties logging into your licensing account from the License Administrator, try resetting your website password at www.sidefx.com/profile. By resetting your website password, your licensing system password will also be updated so the two are unified.

How do Workstation, LAL, and GAL licenses compare?

Network (floating) licenses

Network licenses may be served from a central license server to machines on private networks.

LAL (Local Access Licenses) are network licenses. They may be floated on private networks to serve locations up to 100km in distance.

GAL (Global Access Licenses) are network licenses. They may be floated on private networks to serve locations more than 100km in distance. These licenses are more flexible.

Non-floating licenses

Workstation licenses are standalone (node-locked) licenses. This means that they may only be used on the machine itself and not floated across the network. If you need another machine to use the license, you will need to move the license from the current machine to the machine needed. This may be done up to 10 times a year.

What is the License Administrator app?

The License Administrator (hkey) is the easiest way to manage Houdini licenses.

Hkey

If you are running a headless system (a machine without a graphical display), please refer to to Using the License Administrator non-graphically on the general License Management FAQ.

Windows:

  • Start menu -> All Programs -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini version -> Administrative Tools -> License Administrator
  • You may also do a search for License Administrator

Linux:

  • Applications -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini 18.0.xxx -> Administrative Tools -> License Administrator

  • Or, open a Terminal and type:
    $ cd /opt/hfs18.0
    $ source houdini_setup
    $ hkey

Mac:
* Applications -> Houdini -> Houdini 18.0.xxx -> Administrative Tools -> License Administrator

When you launch the License Administrator, you will need to log in to your account if you wish manage your licenses. There are two ways to log into your licensing account in the License Administrator:

  • File->Login...
  • Press the Log in to get started button

Hkey login

If you require a proxy to access the web, please see this section.

If you are having difficulties logging into your licensing account from the License Administrator, try resetting your website password at www.sidefx.com/password_reset.

How does the Pilot PDG licensing work?

The Pilot PDG license is for users that want to use the PDG capabilities outside of Houdini.

If you want to use PDG inside Houdini, simple press tab on the network pane and place down a TOP network node.

How do I set up networking for sesinetd.options?

Ensure that your license IP masks are set to match your network type (class B, class C, or a specific list of subnets). If not, contact support@sidefx.com.

Obtaining licenses requires two processes. One being the actual "checkout" of the license, which is handled by the IP mask of the license installed. The second being the ability to read from the license server itself. This is controlled by the sesinetd.options file on the license server.

This file should contain the following:

-V 2 -z 250000 -m

plus any other options that you would like (all on one line)

For example:

A site has two separate subnets 192.168.*.* and 10.1.*.*

The sesinetd.options file on the license server would contain:

-V 2 -z 250000 -m 192.168.*.*,10.1.*.*

This would allow clients on both subnets to checkout the license (through the IP mask in the keystring) and to read from the license server (through the sesinetd.options file).

The sesinetd.options file is located:

  • Linux: /usr/lib/sesi
  • Windows: C:\Windows\System32 (note that this file needs to be created first and placed here)
  • Mac: /Applications/Houdini/Houdini16.0.xxx/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/houdini/sbin

For more information about controlling the behaviour of sesinetd, please refer to the question "What kind of options are available to sesinetd?"

How do i Install licenses non-graphically?

If you are running a headless server or are having issues using the graphical License Administrator utility hkey, the non-graphical utility sesictrl will allow you to administer the license server through the command line.

To obtain help information about a specific command run: sesictrl --help
If you need help information from the legacy sesictrl interface enter: sesictrl --legacy-help

Examples of using sesictrl:

  • Redeem license entitlements: sesictrl redeem
  • Install generated keystrings: sesictrl install copy-generated-keystring-here
  • Return licenses: sesictrl return-license
  • Generate the license diagnostics: sesictrl server-diagnostic
  • License usage: sesictrl print-license

To access the program sesictrl, you will need to source the Houdini environment.

Windows

  • Start->Search and type "Command Line Tools 18.0".
  • Or, C:/Program Files/Side Effects Software/ Houdini 18.0.x/bin/hcmd.exe
  • Type sesictrl at the prompt to see the available options.

OSX

  • Spotlight search for Houdini Terminal for your specific Houdini version.
  • Applications->Houdini->Current->Utilities->Houdini Terminal 18.0
  • Type sesictrl at the prompt to see the available options.
  • You can also source the Houdini environment in your shell:
    • cd /Applications/Houdini/Houdini18.0.397/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/Current/Resources
    • source ./houdini_setup

Linux

  • The sesictrl program is located in /usr/lib/sesi
  • Type ./sesictrl to see the available options
  • You can also source the Houdini environment in your shell:
    • cd /opt/hfs18.0
    • source houdini_setup

For more information about sesictrl please refer to www.sidefx.com/docs/houdini/ref/utils/sesictrl.html

How do I set up licensing behind a Firewall?

The following TCP/IP ports are used for Houdini

  • HoudiniLicenseServer (sesientd): TCP port 1715
  • HoudiniServer (hserver): TCP port 1714

To test port connectivity to the license server port

Windows

Open the PowerShell and type the name or the IP address of the license server.

If you have Apprentice, Indie or Commercial workstation licenses, the license server/IP address will be your local machine. If you connect to a remote license server, you will use that machine name or IP address.

Test-NetConnection license-server-name-or-IP -Port 1715

If the client program HoudiniServer (hserver) cannot communicate with the HoudiniLicneseServer(sesinetd) you will see a message similar to:

WARNING: TCP connect to computer-or-IP:1715 failed

Linux or OSX

If you have Apprentice, Indie or Commercial workstation licenses, the license server/IP address will be your local machine. If you connect to a remote license server, you will use that machine name or IP address.

In a Terminal type:

nc -v license-server-name-or-IP 1715

If the client program HoudiniServer (hserver) can communicate with the HoudiniLicneseServer(sesinetd) you will see a message similar to:

Connection to computer-name 1715 port [tcp/*] succeeded!

How can I set up licensing across networks (including VPN)?

Ensure that your license IP masks are set to match your network infrastructure, including any VPN subnets. By default your Houdini licenses are keyed to the following private networks:

LAL licenses:
+.+.., 192.168.., 10..., 172....
where +.+.
.* is the network of the license server

GAL licenses:
+..., 192.168.., 10..., 172....
where +...* is the network of the license server

If you have additional networks not included in the default IP Mask of your Houdini licenses, contact support@sidefx.com to have a Change IP Mask entitlement issued to further open or restrict the network range of these licenses.

If the support team issues you a custom IP Mask for your Houdini licenses, you will need to create a control file on the license server called sesinetd.options. Please refer to Networking for sesinetd.options

Firewall

  • License server program sesinetd (HoudiniLicenseServer) needs incoming TCP port 1715.
  • Allow traffic to be routed to the license server on TCP port 1715 to the license server machine.
  • The client program hserver (HoudiniServer) will listen on TCP port 1714.
  • For more information about how to test the Houdini license server port please refer to Firewall setup
How do I upgrade licenses to a new version?
  • Licenses with an active support contract (AUP) are eligible for upgrades.
  • Licenses with an active rental or subscription are eligible for upgrades.
  • Upgrades are to be applied to installed licenses. Please check your licensing account for upgrade entitlements.
  • If you are an Apprentice user you do not need to upgrade your license. Instead, run Houdini and (re)activate your Apprentice license.

It is not enough that you install the latest Houdini release. You need to apply the upgrades to your installed licenses.
You may run older versions of Houdini with the latest released license.

Using the License Administrator is the easiest way to upgrade licenses:

  1. Download and install the latest Production Build or the latest Daily Build.

  2. Launch the License Administrator on the machine you wish to upgrade.

  3. Select File->Login to log in with your SideFX account.

  4. Select File->Install Licenses to view your license entitlements.

  5. Press the Install button. This will apply the upgrades to the current licenses.

If you are having problems logging into your account through the License Administrator, please see the section I can't log into the License Administrator.

Commercial Upgrade

How do I extend licenses to a new expiry date?
  • 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.

Commercial Extend

How do I move licenses to another computer?
  • Houdini licenses are registered to both the computer hardware and computer name.
  • It is not enough that you uninstall Houdini from the computer to move your licenses.
  • Release the licenses by returning them back to your account at SideFX using the License Administrator.

    License Return
  • Once the licenses have been released from the computer, they are returned to your account.
  • They will show on the account as uninstalled license entitlements.
  • You can then use the License Administrator on the new computer to install the returned licenses. This will complete the move.

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.
  • For more information, please see Return licenses.
How do I return licenses?
  • Use the License Administrator (hkey) or sesictrl (non-graphical hkey).
  • Returning licenses must be initiated by the computer itself.
  • Licenses cannot be returned from the website.
  • A license may be returned up to 10 times per year.

Returning licenses will release them from the computer name and hardware. They will be placed back into your SideFX licensing account as uninstalled entitlements which can be pulled down from another computer using the License Administrator.

When you return a license, a disable code is calculated and written to your licenses file on the computer.
The disable code is also recorded and added to your account. The License ID is then invalidated.

There are 2 ways to return a license:

License Administrator (hkey):

  1. Start License Administrator.
  2. Select the License.
  3. Right-click and select "Return License".
  4. Enter your email address and the password used for licensing.

CommercialLicense Return

Non-graphical command line tool sesictrl

Once you have the Houdini environment setup in your Terminal, use sesictrl to return the license:

  1. Run sesictrl print-license to get a list of installed licenses (the first column is the License ID).
  2. Run sesictrl return-license License ID to initiate the return.
  3. Enter your email address and password used for licensing.

License Return sesictrl

How do I 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.

  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.

How do I license a workstation?

Apprentice and Indie users are only issued workstation (node locked) licenses. These cannot be floated across the network.

Commercial clients also may have purchased workstation (node locked) licenses. These cannot be floated across the network.

The steps:

  1. Download Houdini onto the workstation.

  2. Install Houdini onto the workstation.

  3. License the computer to run your Houdini product. The easiest method is described below:

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

  • Apprentice (free) license
  • Paid License

To License Indie or a full Commercial product, choose Paid License. The Houdini License Administrator will launch.

  1. Choose the option Paid License.

  2. Select File->Install Licenses (Windows/Linux).

    • On OSX there is no File menu option. On OSX, start the License Administrator and go to the License Administrator menu (top left) and select Install Licenses.
  3. Enter your licensing login ID and the password. This will have been sent to you by licensemanager@sidefx.com

    • You will see a list of licenses to which you are entitled.
    • Enter Quantity 1 for each product when installing to the individual computer. Ensure to install a Render license if you wish to use Mantra or Karma.
  4. Press the Install button.

How do I setup client machines?

The easiest setup will be to have a central license server with clients looking to that server for licenses. Workstation licenses are node locked licenses. They cannot be floated across the network. They are restricted to the machine installed on. Floating licenses are either LAL (Local Access License) or GAL (Global Access License).

Apprentice and Indie users are only issued workstation (node locked) licenses.

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

The steps:

  1. Download Houdini onto the workstation.

  2. Install Houdini onto the workstation.

  3. Launch the License Administrator and select File->Change License Server. Enter the license server name.

Hkey Change License Server

If you have setup a network license server, you don't have to install the licensing tools on the workstation as it will look to the remote server for a license.

There are other ways to instruct the client machine to look to the license server.

If you are looking to install licenses locally on the workstation, refer to License a workstation.

If the client is having issues connecting to the remote license server, please check the server firewall. Ensure that the licenses installed on the server have the correct network IP masks.

Can I use an HTTP Proxy?

The Houdini License Administrator can be told to use an HTTP proxy to access the internet if your site is configured this way.

  1. Find out your HTTP proxy host name and port by looking at your web browser's settings
  2. Select File -> Preferences... in the License Administrator
  3. Turn on the toggle to use an HTTP proxy, and enter the proxy host name and port

These settings will be saved for the next time you use the License Administrator.

If you require a login to use Proxy at your site, the HTTP Proxy in the License Administrator will not work. You will need to follow the section How do I install licenses without Internet Access.

How do I set up remote administration of the license server?

The license server can be remotely administered by one machine, group of machines or by any machine on a network, depending on the setup. This is controlled by the sesinetd.options file on the license server with the -M option.

For example: To allow any machine on the 192.168.*.* network to administer the license server, the sesinetd.options file could look like this

-V 2 -z 250000 -M 192.168.*.*

Allow one machine to administer the license server:

-V 2 -z 250000 -M 192.168.50.217

Allow a few machines to administer the license server:

-V 2 -z 250000 -M 192.168.50.217,192.168.50.215

Allow machines from different subnets to administer the license server:

-V 2 -z 250000 -m 192.168.50.*,10.0.1.* -M 192.168.50.217,10.0.1.41

Allow all machines on each subnet to administer the license server:

-V 2 -z 250000 -m 192.168.50.*,10.0.1.* -M 192.168.50.*,10.0.1.*

Allow only machines on one subnet to administer the license server:

-V 2 -z 250000 -m 192.168.50.*,10.0.1.* -M 10.0.1.*

The sesinetd.options file is located:

Windows: C:\Windows\System32 (note that this file needs to be created first and placed here)

Linux: /usr/lib/sesi

Mac: /Applications/Houdini/Houdini16.0.xxx/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/houdini/sbin

For more information about controlling the behaviour of sesinetd, please refer to the question What kind of options are available to sesinetd?.

The -m option is needed if there are different subnets requiring the checkout of licenses. Please refer to the question How do I use my licenses across my network subnets?

How do I setup License Server Logging?

If you would like to be able to have a log of license activity or to debug a problem you may have with the license server, you can setup logging on the license server.

Windows

  1. Create a file named sesinetd.options in C:\Windows\system32\
  2. Enter the following options in sesinetd.options:

    -V 2 -z 25000000 -l C:\sesinetd.log
    
  3. Restart the HoudiniLicenseServer service
    Refer to the section "How do I start and stop the License Server".

The above will put the logfile in C:\.

You can set the logfile to a different location.

Linux

  • Logging is setup automatically. The file is /var/log/sesinetd.log.

Mac

  • Edit the sesinetd.options file located in:

    /Applications/Houdini/Houdini18.0.xxx/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/houdini/sbin
    
  • Append the location of the logfile you wish to use (ie. /var/log/sesinetd.log) to the existing line in the file

How can I manually install licenses?

From the license server machine (or from a client that has write-access to the license server):

  1. Open the License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Select File -> Manually Enter Keys...
  3. Copy and Paste each keystring into a text box using Ctrl+V and press OK

Make sure you copy the entire keystring. Failing to do so will cause Houdini not to function.

Each keystring needs to be entered on a separate line in the License Administrator GUI.

A new keystring begins at the keyword: SERVER, LICENSE, INCREMENT, UPGRADE or EXTEND.

How can I install licenses without Internet access?

If you do not have internet access from the machine running Houdini, you will need to use a second machine with internet access to acquire your licenses.

  1. From the license server machine, run the License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Click on the Server Information tab and record the server name and server code
  3. From the machine with internet access, log into : https://www.sidefx.com/services/licenses/ using your SideFX website login (you may need to link it with your licensing login).
  4. You will see a full license history for your account
  5. Click on "Redeem License Entitlements" and enter quantities beside the licenses to redeem
  6. Select an existing server from the list of server names and server codes, or add a new server by entering the server name and server code. Make sure that you choose the correct Server to redeem the licenses to!
  7. Click on Redeem Entitlement
  8. You should now have the keystrings at the top of the web browser page.
    Save the license keystrings to a file
    A keystring begins with the word SERVER, LICENSE, INCREMENT, UPGRADE, or EXTEND
  9. From the license server machine, open the License Administrator (hkey)
  10. Select File -> Manually Enter Keys...
  11. Copy and Paste each key either from the web browser or from your saved file into a text box using Ctrl+V and press OK

Make sure you copy the entire keystring. Failing to do so will cause Houdini not to function.

Each keystring needs to be entered on a separate line in the License Administrator GUI.

A new keystring begins at the keyword: SERVER, LICENSE, INCREMENT, UPGRADE or EXTEND.

Can I reinstall the SERVER key?

Sometimes the SERVER key may become invalid if you change the computer name or upgrade your hardware. Changing the computer name is not advisable unless all the licenses have been returned. Most common reason for invalid SERVER key, then, is hardware upgrade that changes the server code (server id).

To install a new valid SERVER key for your computer, please follow these steps:

  1. Open the License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Select File -> Install Licenses
  3. Log in
  4. In the dialog box click on the "Licenses" tab
  5. Select the checkbox to reinstall the SERVER key
  6. Press Install button

This should reinstall the new SERVER key for your computer.

Can I reinstall licenses?

Sometimes the licenses file may get deleted, the disk may get reformatted, or the operating system may get reinstalled. In such cases, the licenses will be removed from the computer. To reinstall the licenses, the computer name must be the same as the original name for which the licenses have been issued. Then you can use License Administrator to reinstall the lost keys.

  1. Open the License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Select File -> Install Licenses
  3. Log in
  4. In the dialog click on the "Licenses" tab
  5. Select the checkboxes for the licenses that you want to reinstall (this table lists all the missing non-expired licenses that match your computer name)
  6. Select the checkbox to reinstall the SERVER key as well (just in case it is missing too)
  7. Press Install button

This should reinstall the selected licenses on your computer. If you don't have the internet connection, you will need to reinstall the licenses by manually entering the keys.

How can I run sesinetd on a different TCP port?

As of Houdini 17.0 you can run the license server on a different port than the default 1715.

You will need to specify the port number in the sesinetd.options file.

Clients connect to the license server with host:portnumber

For example, add the -p option to the existing sesinetd.options file (or create one if there is none).

-V 2 -z 1048576  -m +.+.*.*,192.168.*.*,10.*.*.*,172.*.*.* -p 27056

Note your -m switch may be different if running a custom subnet mask in your keystrings. In this example we are listing the default LAL subnets.

You will need to restart the HoudiniLicenseServer service (sesinetd) for it to listen on the new port.

The client machine will then use the License Administrator to connect to the server name:port or use hserver to make the change:

hserver -S servername:27056

Can I do a silent install of Houdini?

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:

The best solution is to modify the registry:

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.

Can I set up a Redundant license server?

Unfortunately we do not support a redundant server setup.

If you have a virtual machine (vm) for the license server, you can create a clone. You can then take the clone offline and spin up in the event of a failure.

How do I make sure that I only use non-graphical licenses to render?
  • Try setting the environment variable HOUDINI_SCRIPT_LICENSE to hbatch -R in your houdini.env file.

  • This will attempt to check out your non-graphical license (Engine) rather than consuming your interactive FX or Core licenses.

  • Running hserver -n does not work with hython or with python based tools inside a file.

  • For more information about Houdini environment variables: www.sidefx.com/docs/houdini/basics/config_env.html

How can I add a DNS SRV record?

A Service record (SRV record) may be added to your internal DNS system for client machines to automatically find the name and port of the Houdini License server.

Example

_sesi-lm._tcp   IN      SRV     0 0 1715 licenseserver.yourdomain.com.

Often facilities will setup a DNS CNAME for the license server as well.

Can I work with older versions of Houdini?

Houdini is backwards compatible. Older versions of Houdini will run with the most recent license.

For example, if you have a Houdini 18.5 license, you will be able to open Houdini 18.5 and older (18.0, 17.5, 17.0 etc...).

  • You need the latest License Server software and licenses to run both latest and older versions of Houdini.
  • When installing older versions of Houdini, do not install the License Server component of the old version as it will overwrite the latest sesinetd binary.
  • If you do overwrite the latest sesinetd server binary, reinstall the latest Houdini version again.

Old installers may be found on our public FTP server.

How do I set up License Server Chaining?

The license management system with the release of Houdini 18 will support a new license configuration called chaining. This configuration allows License Servers (sesinetd) to be chained together. This allows license servers to be broken up based on whatever specification you may have (i.e. license product type).

To setup this configuration list a set of license servers separated by a semi-colon instead of specifying a single sesinetd to connect to. The first sesinetd in the list will try to execute the command (i.e. checkout) if that fails for some reason (cannot connect, command failed, etc.) then the next sesinetd is tried, then the next and so on. Make sure to place the connection list in quotes when specify the list using "hserver -S". For example, hserver -S "sesinetd1;sesinetd2".

To use this configuration you need at least an 18.0 Houdini License Server (hserver). The sesinetd and houdini version do not currently have any requirements for this configuration.

For more information: https://www.sidefx.com/docs/houdini18.5/ref/utils/hserver.html#license-server-chaining

How do I generate license diagnostic information?

License Diagnostic information is useful for debugging licensing issues:

To generate using the License Administrator (hkey)

  1. Start the Houdini License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Under the View menu, select "Diagnostic Information"
  3. Save the file and attach it in an email addressed to support@sidefx.com

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

To generate using sesictrl (non-graphical hkey)

  1. Launch the Houdini environment or directly call sesictrl from the installation location
  2. sesictrl -f > file or ./sesictrl -f file
    • for example: sesictrl -f > diagnostic.txt
  3. Save the file and attach it in an email addressed to support@sidefx.com
How can I set up HTTP communication support?

Houdini 18.0 adds http communication support to our licensing products. The biggest advantage this new communication protocol has is that its more resilient to modifications on either end of the communication. Http communication also allows users to query the license server using any language that can execute an http request (i.e. python). Houdini 18.0 License server (sesinted) already fully support http communication so there is no extra setup required for this application. The HoudiniServer (hserver) does not by default use http.

To enable http communication on the client side (hserver) add -C to the command line or add "enableHttp 1" to the HoudiniServers option file.

If you would like a more comprehensive diagnostic output from an 18.0 hserver then run "hserver -f -v". This command uses http to grab as much information as possible from the hserver.

Several new commands were added to sesictrl that use http communication. Run "sesictrl --help" to see a list of all available commands.

How can I use Peak Usage Logging?

As of Houdini 18.0, customers can now monitor their license usage.

This is a great tool to monitor your peak license usage by product type. In a given interval, the peak usage and optionally the user data can be monitored to a log file. The log may be exported to different representations which then can be used to plan for more license purchases as needs grow.

Enable usage logging

Add the the appropriate options to the sesinetd.options file and restart the license server daemon sesinetd.

The usage log file parser

Houdini 18.0.525 onwards ships with the usage log parser script parsepeakuserlog.py. This script will summarize the log file into a readable format.
The parser is located in $HFS/houdini/python2.7lib. The $HFS variable is the installation location of Houdini.

For example, if $HFS is /opt/hfs18.0 then parsepeakuserlog.py will be located in /opt/hfs18.0/houdini/python2.7libs.

Using the log file parser

Run python parsepeakuserlog.py for how to use the script.

The xlsxwriter is needed if you would like to use the xlsx export type.
For time zones, you need to install the ptyz Python module and use the —time-zone option. It will always show the times in the non-daylight savings time

For more information, refer to Peak Usage Logging

How do I contact 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.

Please include the account number or email associated with your SideFX account if writing from a different address.

How do I setup License Partitioning?

License partitioning is a way to break up a set of licenses into different groups based on a wide range of conditions. This replaces the need to split up the licenses to multiple license servers and instead use the one server to break up the licenses virtually.

License partitioning is also a great way to control license access and restrict critical licenses to the artists that need them, and block unintended license acquisitions from other artists.

This feature requires that the license server (sesinetd) itself is at 18.5 minimum.

For more information please refer to the online documentation.

What build of Houdini do I need to access Houdini Engine for Unity/Unreal licenses?

These licenses will be available in Houdini 18.5.499 and above. You can use an older version of the 18.5 License Manager but build 499 or above is needed for the new license to be recognized when working in Unity and Unreal.