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Combining multiple VMware .lic files is a thing of the past

RTFM has become a common acronym among IT professionals. An administrator having a good day will tell you it stands for “Read The Fine Manual.” On a bad day the expression can become a little more colorful. The point of bringing it up is that I actually read the ESX Server 3 Installation Guide and was surprised to find out that the VMware FLexlm License Server no longer needs to use a single .lic file. In VC 2.x you can simply place multiple .lic files in the Licensing Server’s directory.

In the ESX 3 Guide mentioned above page 59 starts out:

“Adding New License Files to License Servers

The license server supports a license directory for multiple license files. If you obtained multiple license files (for example, from separate orders) and want to manage all these licenses from the same license server, add them to the license server directory and restart the server.

To add new licenses to the license server directory

  1. Add the new license file to the following default directory on the machine running
    the VMware license server: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\Licenses
  2. Restart the VMware License Server service.”

At first I didn’t believe what I was reading. Gone are the days of combining multiple .lic files with Wordpad and double checking the new file with the online tool? It’s too good to be true. I needed some verification so I checked VMware’s knowledge base and found the KB article titled How to Combine FLEXlm License Files. To my surprise there is a note at the start of the solution section:

“Note: Beginning with VirtualCenter 2.0.1 Patch 2, VMware License Server (typically installed during VirtualCenter Server installation) no longer requires server-based licenses to be concatenated into a single file. Simply copy server-based licenses to the license directory. See KB 7252734, ” License Server Directory Support for Simplified License Management” for more information. “

The License Server Directory Support for Simplified License Management KB article provided even more shocking, but helpful information. You can actually configure Licensing Servers older then VC 2.0.1 Patch 2 to use a license directory too! Assuming you don’t want to upgrade.

From the KB article:

Manually Configuring License Server for Directory Support

If you don’t want to upgrade your existing License Server, you can manually modify the License Server configuration (by modifying the Windows Registry and making other necessary changes to enable License Server to use a directory. Remember that Microsoft always warns against modifying the Registry manually, however, so proceed with caution.

  1. Create the license directory: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\Licenses
  2. Copy existing license files to the new …\Licenses directory. By default, the existing license file should be located in one of two different directories, depending on the VirtualCenter Server version:
    1. VirtualCenter 2.0: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\VMware\VMware License Server\vmware.lic
    2. VirtualCenter 2.0.1: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\vmware.lic
  3. Launch Windows Registry Editor (regedit) as follows:
    • From the Windows Start menu, select Run…
    • Enter regedit in the Run dialog box, click OK to launch
    • Navigate to the Registry key containing the path to the license file. The Registry key is: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\FLEXlm License Manager\VMware License Server\License
    • Double-click on the License key to open the Edit String settings dialog box. The License key is likely set to: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\vmware.lic
    • Set this key to the directory created in step 1, by highlighting the filename and carefully replacing it with the name of the directory. Be careful not to leave any trailing spaces, backslash, or other extraneous characters: C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\Licenses
    • Click OK to save the change, and exit the Registry Editor.
    • Restart the VMware License Server service:
  4. Navigate to the Services control panel (under the Administration menu).
  5. Find the VMware License Server service.
  6. Click Restart.

Adding New Licenses

Once you have configured the License Server to use the …Licenses directory, you can add server-based licenses for new VMware products that you obtain by simply copying the server-based license file into the directory, and then restarting the License Server.

Always RTFM. More times than not, I am amazed about what I find.

BTW, a very popular blog and source for informative and helpful white papers is Mike Laverick’s RTFM Education.


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  • Kevin

    Thank you for this post!

  • Kevin

    Thank you for this post!

  • http://www.vladan.fr Vladan

    Excelent post,

    Sure I’ll come back to read more stuff. One has to learn hard every day to stay up to date… -:)

    Thanks for the info.

  • http://www.vladan.fr Vladan

    Excelent post,

    Sure I’ll come back to read more stuff. One has to learn hard every day to stay up to date… -:)

    Thanks for the info.

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