Download and Installation FAQs

What should I do before installing Houdini?
  1. Workstation: See the System Requirements page for the details.
  2. SideFX Login: You will need to login into to download the software.
  3. Connection to Internet: See here if your workstation don't have one.
How do I download the Houdini Installer?

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

There is the single installation package for all Houdini products.
Apprentice, Indie, Education, and Commercial users will use the same installer for their operating system.

The installed licenses determine which features are available in the application and what restrictions are imposed on its use.

Download Installer

To download the installer:

  • Go to → 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 and let users download an appropriate build based on their OS. Links to other Operating Systems are provided below.

If you want to download a specific build or version go to Daily Builds. For more about daily builds and production builds, refer to Houdini builds.

You may also check the SideFX public FTP server for older Houdini installers.

What SideFX needs to generate your licenses?

Nothing. All we need is a valid email address for your licensing login and for you to receive licensing notifications.

We do not require a MAC address or Host ID like other vendors.

You will be provided with a license entitlement to your account.

An entitlement is a "voucher" for a license(s) that you are entitled to install on any of your machines. An entitlement may be for a new license, or an extension/upgrade/change of IP to an existing installed license.

Entitlements are transformed into licenses when you log into the licensing system and "redeem" or claim them. When you redeem or install an entitlement, you bind it to a specific license server machine and you turn it into a license tied to that computer. It is at this point that the keystrings are generated and installed to your local machine.

How do I install Houdini Products?

There is the single installation package for all Houdini products. Apprentice, Indie, Education, and Commercial users will use the same installer for their operating system.

Please refer to the System Requirements for supported hardware and operating systems.

  • If you are new to Houdini or upgrading a full version (17.0 to 18.0), you will need to install the License Server tools in addition to the Houdini software.
  • If you have installed a version of Houdini and are to install a daily build of the same version, you do not need to install the License Server components.
  • In general, uninstalling a previous version of Houdini is NOT required to install a new.




For more information about licensing Houdini please refer to Licensing a Houdini product

How do I license Houdini Products?

There are few ways of installing licenses. The easiest method is described below:

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

  • Apprentice (free) license
  • Paid License

Choosing Apprentice, an Apprentice license is installed and Houdini will launch in the non-commerical mode.

By choosing Paid License, the Houdini License Administrator will show up.

  1. 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.
  2. Enter your licensing login ID and the password.

  3. You will see a list of licenses to which you are entitled.

  4. If necessary, make modifications to the quantities. You do not need to change the quantity for network licensing.

    • For example, if you have purchased 3 Houdini FX Workstation licences, Quantity will be 3 at first. You will need to set the Quantity to 1 on each workstation you perform installation. The quantity will be one lesss each time.
  5. Press the Install button.

To manually start the License Administrator, please refer to How do I start the Houdini License Administrator.

For other details, please refer to the Apprentice FAQ for the installation of the free non-commercial licenses, and to the License Management for the installation of the Indie and commercial licenses.

What is the License Administrator app?

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


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


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

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

* Applications -> Houdini -> Houdini -> 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

Why can't I log into the License Administrator?

Apprentice Users

Apprentice users will not have an account containing licenses so Apprentice users cannot log into the License Administrator (hkey).
When Houdini Apprentice is first launched, the user will be prompted to install the free license.

Indie, Education and Commercial users

Try resetting your password at
By resetting the password, it will unify the login credentials for both the website and licensing system.

Why am I running Apprentice when I have a Houdini Indie Subscription?

Make sure that you have installed your Houdini Indie licenses. It is not enough to only open the Houdini Indie application.

To install your Houdini Indie license: How to license Houdini Indie

If you are still having issues please see What do I do if I'm still having license trouble?

How do I license Houdini Indie?

The Houdini Indie license is composed of 3 keystrings:

  • Houdini Indie - This will open the graphical Indie interface
  • Renderer (Non-Commercial) - Mantra Render
  • Karma (Non-Commercial) - Karma Render

With Houdini 18.5 there are now 3 ways to license Houdini Indie:

Install license locally

Install the Houdini Indie license locally on your machine. You are issued 2 Indie licenses for the purchase of 1 license. These 2 licenses can be installed on 2 machines (for the use by 1 artist), or on a dual-boot machines. These licenses can be moved to a new machine 10x per year.

Purchase the Houdini Indie license from Steam

This allows you to launch 1 Houdini session on as many machines as you want. Only 1 Houdini session open at a time.

Houdini Indie on Steam

Use Login Licensing (new in 18.5)

Use as your license server. Your Houdini Indie license can be accessed from our license server onto any of your machines. Login licensing requires you to be constantly logged in with you SideFX account.

For more information see:

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.


  • 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.
Can I license a Dual Boot Computer?

Unfortunately, the licensing system is not prepared to recognize the different operating system as the same machine.

Indie users
To solve this issue, a supplementary Houdini Indie license is provided for each subscription.

Commercial users If you have a floating license server, this will be a non-issue as the client computer can look to the remote server for licensing.

How can I renew a Houdini Indie subscription?

Houdini Indie does not auto-renew. You will need to purchase a new subscription for Houdini Indie. This will provide you with new licenses for the subscription.

If your subscription has expired or is close to expiring, you will need to purchase a new subscription.

To purchase Houdini Indie:

What do I do about a Fatal error: Segmentation fault?

Make sure that your computer meets our System Requirements.

Intel or AMD x64 CPU with SSE 4.2 required. Houdini 17.0 will not run on a system with an instruction set lower than SSE 4.1.

Do you have Nahimic or 3D audio drivers installed? Or 3D audio software installed? Please uninstall or disable them.

Asus Sonic Suite 2, the audio card software that comes with a lot of Asus ROG mainboards, seems to also be a culprit.

If you have any 3D audio drivers, please uninstall them or disable them.

We no longer provide Qt4 builds for Houdini 17.0.

Other things to try: Try deleting (or renaming) your houdini17.0 preferences directory. When you relaunch Houdini this directory will be regenerated, with all your Houdini settings at default. If you have an older version of Houdini, you will delete or rename the directory for that older version (for example, houdini16.5).

Windows: My Documents->houdini17.0

OSX: /Users/(your name)/Library/Preferences/houdini/17.0

Linux: /home/(your name)/houdini17.0

Qt4 builds for versions older than Houdini 17.0: Windows Mac Linux

If this doesn't help and Houdini stays open long enough, can you please send the support team your machine info from Houdini's Help -> About Houdini -> click on "Show Details". Please click the "save” button at the bottom, and send the file to

What are 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.

Why can I not log onto the SideFX website?

Please try resetting your password

If are you are still having issues accessing your account please contact

Why can I not open Houdini Indie with my Houdini Engine Indie license?

You cannot open the Houdini indie interface using the Houdini Engine Indie license. Your Houdini Engine Indie license can be used to run Houdini Indie in non-graphical mode or to load Houdini Digital Assets into other content creation apps such as Autodesk® Maya,® and Cinema 4D, or game editors such as Unity® and UE4®.

How do I upgrade my Commercial licenses?

Upgrades are provided to commercial licenses which have an active support contract (AUP).

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 into your SideFX licensing portal.

  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

Why can I not run Houdini even though my license is installed?

Check to ensure you're trying to run the right product for the license you have.

From the menu, select 'Houdini' to run Houdini Core (formerly known as Base Houdini or Houdini Escape) and 'Houdini FX' to run Houdini FX (formerly known as Houdini Master).

From the command-line, type 'houdinicore' (or 'basehoudini' to run Houdini Core, 'houdinifx' to run Houdini FX, and 'houdini' to run the program that you have licenses for, searching for Houdini FX licenses first and then Houdini Core licenses.

For more licensing help please see the License Trouble FAQ.

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 can I license Houdini Engine Indie?

The Houdini-Engine-Indie license is a 3-part license consisting of:

  • Houdini Engine Indie
  • Render (Non-Commercial)
  • Karma (Non-Commercial)

All need to be installed on the same machine.

The Houdini-Engine-Indie is a non-graphical version of Houdini-Indie. It allows you to run command-line renders, and simulations, on remote render machines. And to open pre-made Houdini Digital Assets (HDAs) within Maya, Unreal, Unity and C4D. You make best use of your Houdini-Engine-Indie license if it is installed on a different machine than your Houdini-Indie license.

If you would like to use the Houdini Indie graphical interface, you can purchase Houdini Indie here:

To install a license of Houdini Engine Indie:

  1. Launch the License Administrator on the machine you wish to license with Houdini Indie.

  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 email and password used for Houdini licensing. 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.

  4. Press the Install button.

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

What can I do if I can't license Houdini?

Most licensing issues can be resolved by referring to the Common Licensing Problems page.

If you cannot resolve your licensing issues, please email with the license diagnostic from the machine you are trying to license. Please also include your Account number and or/email used for licensing so the support team can easily locate your account information.

To generate the license diagnostic:

  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

If you don't have a graphical display, you can type "sesictrl -f > file".

Refer to How do I start the License Administrator

What is this error in the console mean?: NT_GeneratorThread::queueEvent eventqueuefull.Event dropped

This is due to using an older graphics card. Tell Houdini to use software OpenGL rather than hardware OpenGL. This is done by setting an environment variable:


How do I license Houdini Indie locally to my machine?

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 whitelisted in your spam settings.

  • A machine needs 1 Indie, 1 Mantra and 1 Karma license.
  • Reserve any Engine Indie licenses for a computer without an Indie license.

By starting Houdini for the first time or without an active license, you will be prompted with two options:

  • Install (or reinstall) my free Houdini Apprentice license
  • I have a paid license for Houdini

Indie License Prompt

  1. Choose the second option: I have a paid license for Houdini and click Next.
  2. Press the License Settings button to start the License Administrator (hkey).
  3. Press the Login to get started button or go to File->Login.
  4. Press the Check for Entitlements to install button or go to File->Install Licenses.
  5. Leave the default quantity as 1.

Indie Install License

  • You are issued a second set of licenses for a secondary computer/operating system in dual-boot setup.
  • A machine with an Indie license does not need to have Engine Indie. Save Engine Indie for a machine without an Indie license.
  • The License Administrator (hkey) displays the licenses installed on the local machine.
  • If you cannot login to your account to install Indie licenses, try resetting the password.
How to install Redshift to use with Houdini?

You will need to use the Production Build of Houdini that matches your Redshift plugin version.

It is essential that you run the Redshift plugin compiled against the correct version of Houdini.
Failing to do so will result in Houdini crashing, as the libraries will no longer be compatible.

For example, the following Production Builds of Houdini 18.5 will work with these Redshift versions:

Houdini 18.5.351: From Redshift 3.0.32 to the last available
Houdini 18.5.408: From Redshift 3.0.34 to the last available

Please refer to the Redshift documentation to see which Redshift plugins support which Houdini versions.

To use Redshift with Houdini, you will need to edit your houdini.env file that matches your operating system. This will tell Houdini where to look for the plugin. Please refer to the Redshift documentation on how to configure the plugin for your operating system.

If you are having issues with Redshift, please contact Maxon support.

How do I install SideFX Labs?

The full installation tutorial video for SideFX Labs is located here.

To verify SideFX Labs install:

  • Open Houdini.

  • Enable the SideFX Labs shelf. At the top of the workspace, click the + sign (above and right of the Font shelf tool).
    Select the Shelves menu then locate the SideFX Labs submenu. Click to enable.

SideFX Labs 1

  • Once enabled you will see the most common tools on the shelf. By clicking the Update Toolset icon on the far left, you can see what version is available or installed locally. Click update to install the tools locally to the computer if they have not been yet already.

SideFX Labs 2

  • You may also check the Toolset version and update by selecting the Window->SideFX Labs menu.

SideFX Labs 3

  • If you want to see more tools, go to the Network Editor. Right-click/Tab and type “labs” in the search or select Labs from the dropdown menu. The submenu will show the tools at object level.

SideFX Labs 4

  • If you want to see the most used SOPS tools, create a geometry container. Right-click/Tab and locate the Labs menu. There you will see the rest of the tools. If you are in a different context (ROPS, COPS etc), you will have the Lab tools there in that context.

SideFX Labs 5