License Management FAQs


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:

Remote License

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

Local License

Which license strings are required for each Houdini product?

The following table illustrates shows the license string required for each product type:

License Category Product Name Product License String Default Qty
Commercial Houdini FX Houdini FX 1
Renderer 5
Houdini (base) Houdini 1
Renderer 5
Houdini Engine Houdini Engine 1
Renderer 1
Limited Commercial Houdini Indie Houdini Indie 1
Houdini FX (Non-Commercial) 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Houdini Engine Indie Houdini Engine Indie 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Educational Houdini Education Houdini Education 1
Houdini FX (Non-Commercial) 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 10
Non-Commercial Apprentice HD Houdini Apprentice HD 1
Houdini FX (Non-Commercial) 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1
Houdini Apprentice Houdini FX (Non-Commercial) 1
Renderer (Non-Commercial) 1

When you return a license, you must return all of the associated license strings.

What are the tools for Houdini licensing?

The licensing tools for Houdini are:

  • hkey: a GUI based licensing tool for managing licenses and retrieving diagnostic information. Also known as "License Administrator".
  • sesictrl: the GUI-less "hkey". Use this to perform license operations in the terminal shell
  • sesinetd: the license server daemon/service.
  • hserver: client helper program that acquires licenses by communicating with sesinetd.

They are located:

Windows:

  • hkey, sesictrl - C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini 14.0.xxx\bin
  • sesinetd, hserver - C:\Windows\system32

Linux:

  • hkey, hserver - /opt/hfs14.0.xxx/bin
  • sesinetd, sesictrl - /opt/hfs14.0.xxx/houdini/sbin

Mac:

  • hkey, hserver - /Library/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/14.0.xxx/Resources/bin
  • sesinetd, sesictrl - /Library/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/14.0.xxx/Resources/houdini/sbin
How do I set up the Houdini environment for command line tools?

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:

  • Start menu -> All Programs -> Side Effects Software -> Houdini version -> Utilities -> Command Line Tools

Linux:

  1. cd path to Houdini installation
  2. source houdini_setup
    Example:
    $ cd /opt/hfs14.x
    $ source houdini_setup

Mac:

  • Applications -> Houdini version -> Houdini Shell.terminal
Where are the license files located?

Location of the licenses files:

Windows:

  • C:\Windows\keys\licenses

Linux:

  • /usr/lib/sesi/licenses

Mac:

  • /Library/Preferences/sesi/licenses
How do I start the License Administrator?

You can either launch from the Application menu on each OS or from the command line by typing "hkey". Please refer to the section above to set up the command line environment.

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

Mac:

  • Applications -> Houdini version -> 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.

How do I use License Administrator non-graphically?

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:

  • installation of keystrings once redeemed through http://license.sidefx.com
  • returning of licenses
  • generation of diagnostic information

The easiest way to install license entitlements is to run:

sesictrl -L

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 -I 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 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 or modify a license or server manually
Usage: sesictrl [-h host] [-p host -P port] -L
Redeem license entitlements
(prompts for login and asks which entitlements to redeem)
Usage: sesictrl [-p host -P port] -d id
Return a license for entitlements
(Specify the 8 character license id listed by sesictrl -s.)
Usage: sesictrl [-h host] -r server id
Remove server from license file
Usage: sesictrl [-h host] [options]
Options:  
-q Shut down the existing license manager
-Q Shut down the license 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
-d id Return a license (specify the 8 character license id listed by sesictrl -s)
-p host Specify the http proxy host name for returning licenses.
-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 = log errors only
2 = log messages and errors
-z size Specify maximum 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.

How do I start and 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. There is a service called HoudiniLicenseServer that you can start or stop.

Linux:

  1. Run the sesinetd startup script located in /etc/init.d
  2. Usage: /etc/init.d/sesinetd {start|stop}

Mac:

  • stop: launchctl unload /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.sidefx.sesinetd.plist
  • start: launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.sidefx.sesinetd.plist
What kind of options are available to sesinetd?

To control the behavior of sesinetd:

The file that specifies the behaviour of sesinetd is named sesinetd.options. Put the following options in sesinetd.options

  • On Linux this file is located in /usr/lib/sesi
  • On Windows, this file must reside in C:\Windows\System32
  • On Mac, this file is in /Library/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/14.x.x/Resources/houdini/sbin

Options:

-v Print version information
-n count Specify the number of threads to use for processing
-l file Specify log file
-V level Specify log level
0 = no logging
1 = log errors only
2 = log messages and errors
-z size Specify maximum log file size [default: 1M]
e.g. 0.5M = .5 Mb
32k = 32 Kb
5000 = 5000 bytes
-m ipmask Specify read IP mask (Only clients whose address matches will be granted access to query the server)
-M ipmask Specify write IP mask (Only clients whose address matches will be granted access to modify the server)
-p port Specify alternate port [Default: ]
-R pidfile Specify file to write its own pid to when started

Note: The read/write IP masks cannot be set after sesinetd has started

The default read mask is '+.+.+.*'

The default write mask is '+.+.+.+'

What kind of options are available to hserver?

The file that specifies the behaviour of hserver is hserver.opt on Linux/Mac OSX and hserver.ini on Windows.

Windows

The hserver.ini file is by default located in C:\Program Files\Side Effects Software\Houdini 14.x\houdini\hserver.ini. This file will need to be moved to C:\Windows\System32 to have an effect on hserver.

Linux

The hserver.opt file is located in /houdini/hserver.opt.

Mac

On Mac OS X, make sure that hserver is listed in the Activity Monitor's process list. The Activity Monitor can be found in the Applications -> Utilities folder.

With the following options (or without any options), executing "hserver" will start a Houdini server (hserver) on the local host to allow remote access by other Houdini sessions (on remote hosts).

To control the behaviour of hserver:

The following options provide mechanisms to control or query a running version of hserver (possibly on a remote machine).

For more configuration options, see the hserver.opt file (on Windows, hserver.ini).

How do I tell my client machine to look at my license server?

You can use the License Administrator (hkey) on the client machine.

  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

You can also use hserver in the shell (once you've sourced the Houdini environment):

hserver -S hostname where "hostname" is the name of your license server

There is also a hidden file called .sesi_licenses.pref that you can place in your home directory. The contents will be:

serverhost=hostname where the hostname will be the name of your server.

How do I return my licenses?

When you return a Houdini product license, you need to return all the associated license strings. To see which license strings are associated with which Houdini product, see here. There are 2 different ways to return a license:

With License Administrator

  1. Start License Administrator (hkey)
  2. Right-click on the license ID to return
  3. Select "Return License"
  4. Enter your email address and the password provided to you by Side Effects Software

With the sesictrl command line tool

To set up the Houdini command line environment, please refer here..

To use sesictrl to return licenses:
1. Run "sesictrl -s" to get a list of installed licenses (the first column is the license ID)
2. Run "sesictrl -d" license-id for license to be returned
3. Enter your email address and password when prompted

Note: If you have a license with multiple tokens and you only want to return a few of them, you must return them all and then re-redeem the ones you want. This is because you must return the entire License ID. One License ID may have many tokens(licenses) associated with it.

For example: You have 5 Houdini and wish to upgrade 2 of the licenses to Houdini FX. License ID 57c2jfj is the License ID with the 5 Houdini.

You will return License ID 57c2jfj (therefore, all of the 5 Houdini licenses). You will then re-install 3 Houdini licenses using the normal license install method, leaving 2 Houdini licenses un-redeemed.

Note:You cannot return your licenses from the web-based licensing page at http://license.sidefx.com.

How do I move licenses to a different License Server?

If you need to move your licenses to a different machine, follow the section How do I return my licenses? to return your license back to your account at Side Effects Software. You may then redeem the licenses as normal onto the new machine. When you return licenses, they will show up on the account as un-redeemed entitlements.

You may return your license up to 2 times.

What ports do I need to open on my firewall for Houdini access?

The following TCP/IP ports are used for Houdini

  • HoudiniLicenseServer (sesientd) = port 1715
  • HoudiniServer (hserver) = port 1714
How do I set up an HTTP Proxy in the License Administrator?

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 use my licenses across my network subnets?

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. They will instruct you to return your licenses so that they can be rekeyed.

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: /Library/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/14.x.x/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 remotely administer 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:

  • Linux: /usr/lib/sesi
  • Windows: C:\Windows\System32 (note that this file needs to be created first and placed here)
  • Mac: /Library/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/14.x.x/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:
    /Library/Frameworks/Houdini.framework/Versions/14.x.x/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 do 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 : http://license.sidefx.com using your licensing login
  4. Go to "Manage Licenses"
    You will see a full license history for your account
  5. Go to the bottom of the page and click on "Redeem a License Entitlement" 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.

How do 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 do I reinstall lost 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 do 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.