Installation and Licensing Problems FAQs


Licenses have stopped working

Have your licenses expired?
Open the License Administrator and select the option to Show Expired Licenses. You can also check your account at www.sidefx.com/services. If you are an Indie customer, you can purchase a new license here If you are customer using FX or Core, please contact your account manager or sales@sidefx.com.

Have you changed any hardware in your computer?
If yes, then most likely the SERVER code on your machine has changed. Please see How do I reinstall the SERVER key? to fix this issue.

Have you recently changed the name of your computer?
Please rename the computer back to the original name used when you licensed Houdini. You can see the machine name tied to your licenses when you log into your account at www.sidefx.com/services.

You can start the License Administrator and select the Diagnostic Information option in the menu. The diagnostic information will be printed to the screen.

Some things to check:

  1. The reported local hostname matches the name tied to the licenses if running the licenses on the local machine. Did the machine name change? What computer name are the licenses looking for?

  2. If connecting to a remote license server, make sure your local machine matches the allowed subnet for the licenses on the server. Also make sure that the local machine (client) can connect to the license server on port 1715.

  3. "Has SERVER license: No" - refer to Reinstall the SERVER key?

  4. WARNING: An old version of the license server (4.x or older) - refer further down the page for a solution.

Houdini crashes on startup

Open the crash log generated. Usually the logs are created in

Windows: C:/Users/UserName/AppData/Local/Temp/houdini_temp

Intel OpenCL Driver

If you have anything with the Intel OpenCL driver listed in the crash log try disabling this driver.

Some machines come with Intel HD graphics as the default, low-end graphics adapter, and also an NVIDIA card for performance graphics

To temporarily disable the OpenCL driver you can launch regedit and edit the Windows registry. The key to look for is SOFTWARE\Khronos\OpenCL\Vendors. Within that there should be keys for the NVIDIA driver and the Intel driver. If you remove the Intel key that should cause the Intel driver not to load.

Pilot PDG License error

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.

Error installing key: LICENSE GENERIC HOUDINI...

Apprentice Users

Try deleting the files:

C:\Windows/keys/licenses (if exists)
C:\Windows/keys/licenses.local (if exists)

It depends if you had installed Houdini choosing Apprentice (Local) or Commercial Licensing. Apprentice (Local) licensing reads the keystrings form the file named licenses.local. Commercial licensing reads the keystrings from the file named licenses.

Re-launch Apprentice and see if you are able to install licenses. If not, try launching the software as the Admin user.

We recommend installing Houdini as a normal user.

If these tips do not work, re-install Houdini with Commercial Licensing selected, even if you are installing Apprentice.

License activation loop

1) Delete your licenses and licenses.local (if it exists).

For the location of the licenses or licenses.local file please see: Where are the license files located?

2) Please rename your machine using only English characters and numbers.

3) Do a full install of Houdini. Install either the Production Build or a Daily Build. Daily builds can be found on our website under Get -> Download -> Daily Builds

Install Houdini making sure you select the commercial licensing component. This will reset your license server to the build you install.

3) Relaunch Houdini, and follow the prompts to install a new license

Licenses show 0/0 available

The SERVER code has changed on the machine. This will invalidate the SERVER license keystring. The SERVER keystring is needed to validate the machine to run Houdini licenses.

Please see How do I reinstall the SERVER key? to fix this issue.

How to return 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://www.sidefx.com/services/licenses/.

Upgrades are not listed

Make sure that your licenses have not expired.

Upgrades are for valid Indie subscriptions, Education/Commercial rentals or Commercial licenses on the annual upgrade plan (AUP).

If you have any questions about a license that should have been upgraded and has not, please contact your account manager or sales@sidefx.com.

Sometimes the upgrades do not get written properly to the locally installed licenses file. You can copy & paste the UPGRADE key strings for your licenses and manually install them using the License Administrator.

Houdini is backwards compatible so you can run older versions of Houdini with the latest license.

Houdini 17.5 licenses may be installed onto a running Houdini 16.0, 16.5, 17.0 license server (sesinetd) but we do recommend upgrading to the latest license server version.

If you are planning on using Houdini 17.5 licenses, we recommend installing the Houdini 17.5 license server (sesinetd). You will be able to use Houdini 17.0 and older with Houdini 17.5 licenses.

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't log into License Administrator

Try resetting your password on the website at www.sidefx.com/profile.

By resetting your account password, this should now also update the licensing system password.

Invalid email address or password in the License Administrator

The website and licensing are different systems. You should have received an email from licensemanger@sidefx.com with your licensing login. Sometimes the email provided for licensing is different than the website login so you have to make sure that you're using the correct email login.

Try resetting your password on the website at www.sidefx.com/profile.

By resetting your website account password, your licensing password should also be updated to match. The two systems will have the same login.

If this does not work, please contact support@sidefx.com to have licensing access reset.

Can't render

Make sure to have the Render license installed.

If running Houdini Indie or Houdini Apprentice, the render license will be listed as Render (NC) meaning non-commercial render.

If you are trying to render using the most recent version of Houdini, the render license must also be at the current version.

For example, if you are trying to render in a Houdini 17.5 session, Mantra will look for a version 17.5 Render license.

Houdini licenses are backwards compatible. This means that you can run older versions of Houdini using the most recent licensed version. For example, Houdini 17.0 or below will open with a version 17.5 license.

This is true for all Houdini products - FX, Core, Engine, Mantra, Indie, Apprentice

OSX and the licenses have stopped working

A common issue with OSX is the machine name may change when moving between networks. This name change will invalidate the installed Houdini licenses.

Change the name of your machine back to the name your licenses are tied to. If you don't have this information, you can log into your account at www.sidefx.com/services. Under License Manager, go to Manage your licenses and look at the SERVER column heading.

To prevent OSX from changing your computer name when moving between networks:

Go to Utilities and open the Terminal.

Run the following two commands but substitute your computer name where it says yourmachinename below:

sudo scutil --set HostName yourmachinename.local
sudo scutil --set LocalHostName yourmachinename

You will be asked for your machine password (the password you use to log into your computer).

For example, if the machine is called toronto.local, the commands would be:

sudo scutil --set HostName toronto.local
sudo scutil --set LocalHostName toronto

After renaming your machine, please open a new terminal and verify that the machine name has changed. If not, please restart your machine.

Open the License Administrator and select the Change License Server option and enter the name of your machine. For example, toronto.local as above.

WARNING: An old version of the license server (4.x or older)

Please try adding a mapping from your machine to 127.0.0.1 to the /etc/hosts file if using Apprentice or Indie. If you are a Commercial (FX, Core) license user and using a remote license server, please map your machine name to your network/LAN IP address. Do not edit or remove any of the existing entries in the file.

Add the following line to the end of the file: 127.0.0.1 your machine name

Note: your machine name is the name of your physical machine.

For example, if the machine is called toronto.local, the line below would be added to the end of the /etc/hosts file:

127.0.0.1 toronto.local

After changing the /etc/hosts file you might need to restart the machine.

For instructions on how to edit the hosts file: [http://osxdaily.com/2016/02/29/modify-hosts-mac-os-x-textedit/)

Ensure that the /etc/hosts entry for the machine matches the name of the machine as reported by the License Administrator.

Unable to read/modify license file. The license was not returned.

This issue is most likely caused by insufficient write permissions on the licenses file (or licenses.local if in Local Licensing mode) or a process blocking access to the file.

Sometimes a process will lock the licenses file (or licenses.local if in Local Licensing mode) so it can't be written to. When returning licenses, the disable codes must be written to the file.

Where is the licenses located on the machine?

Here are some things to try:

Windows:

  1. Reboot the computer

  2. Upgrade your current Houdini installation to the latest Daily Build

  3. Ensure that the full path of the Houdini temp folder exists before returning any licenses. Most likely path is C:\Windows\TEMP (but this could be different for your setup). To find out the location of the Houdini temp folder you can review Houdini Help -> About Houdini -> click on "Show Details". Save the file and search for the temp directory.

  4. Try restarting the HoudiniServer and HoudiniLicenseServer services.

  5. Launch the License Administrator as the Administrator user.

  6. Make sure that you have sufficient file permissions to write to the licenses file (or licenses.local if in Local Licensing mode). Right-cick on the licenses (or licenses.local if in Local Licensing mode) and make sure that the appropriate accounts/groups have write permissions.

  7. Do you have any security or virus protection programs running? Try temporarily disabling security/virus protection software.

  8. Reinstall the licenses to the computer.

  9. Open the License Administrator and select the Diagnostic Information option in the menu. The diagnostic information will be printed to the screen.

    • If there is a line that says Has SERVER license: No, try reinstalling the server keytstring and attempt to return the licenses again. Refer to How do I reinstall the SERVER key?
The License server may not serve licenses

The SERVER code has changed on the machine. This will invalidate the SERVER license keystring. The SERVER keystring is needed to validate the machine to run Houdini licenses.

Please see How do I reinstall the SERVER key? to fix this issue.

Has SERVER license: No

The SERVER code has changed on the machine. This will invalidate the SERVER license keystring. The SERVER keystring is needed to validate the machine to run Houdini licenses.

Please see How do I reinstall the SERVER key? to fix this issue.

Invalid Server Key

The SERVER code has changed on the machine. This will invalidate the SERVER license keystring. The SERVER keystring is needed to validate the machine to run Houdini licenses.

Please see How do I reinstall the SERVER key? to fix this issue.

Unable to connect to hserver for licence acquisition

This usually means that the client helper program, hserver, is not running.

On Windows, verify that you have the service HoudiniServer listed in Services and that it has started. You can go to Services through Control Panel->Administrative Tools. If it's not listed, ensure that there is a program called hserver.exe located in C:\Windows\system32.

On Linux, make sure that hserver is listed in the process list. If not, you can start it by typing hserver when you've sourced the Houdini environment.

Houdini is using a Houdini License Server (sesinetd.exe) and a Houdini License Client (hserver.exe) to verify its licensing. Houdini uses TCP/IP to communicate with these processes, and if it unable to connect to either of them, it prints error messages. There are a few reasons why Houdini is not able to connect to hserver. The most common reasons are:

  • Houdini License Server (sesinetd/sesinetd.exe) is not running
  • Houdini License Client (hserver/hserver.exe) is not running
  • The firewall blocks the communication on ports 1714 and 1715
  • If installing the license server and client on the same machine, it could be that Houdini wasn't installed using administrative privileges(root/Administrator).
Formatted computer and licenses do not work

Make sure your computer has the same name as before as your Houdini licenses are tied to the machine name.

If you don't know the original machine name, you can log into your account at www.sidefx.com/services. Under License Manager, go to Manage your licenses and look at the SERVER column heading.

Once you rename your computer, reboot and see How do I reinstall lost licenses?

Lost licenses

Sometimes the license file may get deleted, the disk may get reformatted, or the operating system may get reinstalled. In such cases, the license keys will be removed from the computer and you will need to obtain them again by following one of the methods below:

For Apprentice Users:

You can just download the software and install. You will be prompted to install non-commercial licenses when you start Houdini.

For Commercial and Indie Users:

Reinstall licenses on the same machine

If the License Administrator runs on a computer with the Internet connection:

  1. Start the License Administrator
  2. Choose File -> Install Licenses... and log in
  3. In the dialog window go to the "Licenses" tab
  4. 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)
  5. Select the checkbox to reinstall the SERVER key as well (just in case it is missing too)
  6. Press install button

This should reinstall the selected licenses on your computer.

If the License Administrator runs on a computer with no Internet connection, you will need to reinstall the license keys manually:

  1. Log into http://license.sidefx.com with your username/password combination used for licensing
  2. Go to Manage Licenses and search for the machine that needs the license. Look your license history for every machine that has a license installation.
    Notice that each License ID (first column on the left hand side) contains a link.
  3. Click on the License ID to bring up a pop-up window, containing the keystrings
  4. Start the License Administrator and go to File->Manually Enter Keys. Copy and paste each keystring for the machine. Enter each keystring one line at a time. Note that you only need 1 SERVER keystring per machine. A keystring will begin with: SERVER, LICENSE, EXTEND, UPGRADE or INCREMENT.

Another manual way to rebuild your licenses file is to copy and paste the keystrings into a file called licenses, then install this file onto the machine.

The licenses file is located:

  • Windows: C:\Windows\keys\licenses
  • Linux: /usr/lib/sesi/licenses
  • Mac: /Library/Preferences/sesi/licenses

Make sure that you don't append any extensions to the filename (eg. .txt).

Reinstall licenses on a different machine

If you have replaced your machine and need your original licenses back (but they are tied to an old machine name), you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Rename your new machine to the original machine name for which the licenses were issued. Reboot if needed. Launch the Houdini License Administrator (hkey). Under File->Change License Server, make sure the server name is the one for which the licenses were issued; change it if it is not.
  2. Follow the section directly above (Reinstall licenses on the same machine).

If you reinstalled the keys automatically and now Houdini starts fine, then the problem is solved. However, if you want your new computer to have a new name then follow the instructions below.

If you reinstalled the keys manually, you will notice that this new machine won't be able to serve licenses yet because the server code is invalid. The server code is unique to each machine, and if you change machines then your server code will also change. If that's the case, you will need to return and reinstall the licenses again as described below. This will reinstall a valid SERVER key with the correct server code.

  1. Return your licenses to Side Effects Software (Refer the License Management section of the FAQ)
  2. Move your licenses file to a new file name (eg. licenses.old)
    Refer to the section "Where is the license file located on my machine?".
  3. If you want the machine to have a different machine name, you can change it now (and reboot if necessary). Otherwise, leave it as is.
  4. Re-install the returned licenses, which will also generate and install a new SERVER key for your new machine.

Now you should be able to start Houdini.

Move licenses to a new computer

You will need to unregister the licenses from the machine by returning them back to your account at SideFX. Once they have been returned, they will be converted into new entitlements, ready to be installed onto the new machine.

Please see How do I return my licenses?

Computer renamed and licenses do not work

Houdini licenses are tied to the machine name. Rename your computer back to the original name associated with your Houdini licenses.

If you would like to rename your computer, return the all the licenses back to your account at SideFX using the License Administrator.

This will unregister the licenses from your current machine. They will be converted to entitlements which can then be installed onto a different computer or different name.

Please see How do I return my licenses?

How to reclaim licenses if no access to original computer

For Commercial and Indie Users

If you have replaced your machine and need your original licenses back (but they are tied to an old machine name), you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Rename your new machine to the original machine name for which the licenses were issued. Reboot if needed.
  2. Launch the Houdini License Administrator (hkey). Under File->Change License Server, make sure the server name is the one for which the licenses were issued; change it if it is not.
  3. Follow the section directly above (Reinstall licenses on the same machine).

If you reinstalled the keys automatically and now Houdini starts fine, then the problem is solved. However, if you want your new computer to have a new name then follow the instructions below.

If you reinstalled the keys manually, you will notice that this new machine won't be able to serve licenses yet because the server code is invalid. The server code is unique to each machine, and if you change machines then your server code will also change. If that's the case, you will need to return and reinstall the licenses again as described below. This will reinstall a valid SERVER key with the correct server code.

  1. Return your licenses to SideFX (Refer the License Management section of the FAQ)
  2. Move your licenses file to a new file name (eg. licenses.old)
    Refer to the section "Where is the license file located on my machine?".
  3. If you want the machine to have a different machine name, you can change it now (and reboot if necessary). Otherwise, leave it as is.
  4. Re-install the returned licenses, which will also generate and install a new SERVER key for your new machine.

Now you should be able to start Houdini.

Render error: No licenses could be found to run this application. Please check for a valid license server host

Make sure to have the Render license installed.

If running Houdini Indie or Houdini Apprentice, the render license will be listed as Render (NC) which means non-commercial render.

If you are trying to render using the most recent version of Houdini, the render license must also be at the current version.

For example, if you are trying to render in a Houdini 17.5 session, Mantra will look for a version 17.5 Render license.

Houdini licenses are backwards compatible. This means that you can run older versions of Houdini using the most recent licensed version.

For example, Houdini 17.0 or below will open with a version 17.5 license.

This is true for all Houdini products - FX, Core, Engine, Indie, Apprentice

License installed but can't run Houdini

Check to ensure you're trying to run the right product for the license you have. From the menu, select 'Houdini' to run Base Houdini (formerly known as Escape) and 'Houdini FX' to run Houdini FX (formerly known as Master). From the command-line, type 'basehoudini' to run Base Houdini, 'houdinifx' to run Houdini FX, and 'houdini' to run the program that you have licenses for, searching for Houdini FX licenses first and then Base Houdini licenses.

Houdini Engine Indie license cannot open Indie interface

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®.

www.sidefx.com/buy

Clients on different networks

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 multiple subnets: +.+.*.*,192.168.*.*,10.*.*.*,172.*.*.*

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

-V 2 -z 250000 -m +.+. * . * ,192.168. * . * ,10. . . * ,172. * . * . *

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/9.x.x/Resources/houdini/sbin

For more information about controlling the behaviour of sesinetd, please refer to the FAQ at www.sidefx.com -> Support -> FAQs -> License Management.

Location of the licenses file on the computer

The licenses file is located:

  • Windows: C:\Windows\keys\licenses
  • Linux: /usr/lib/sesi/licenses
  • Mac: /Library/Preferences/sesi/licenses

Make sure that you don't append any extensions to the filename (eg. .txt).

License Administrator crash during install

The License Administrator can redeem new Entitlements, reinstall missing Licenses and return existing installed Licenses. If the License Administrator crashes during your license installation, the licenses will show as being Redeemed on your account at Side Effects Software. Remember, redeemed means that the entitlements that previously could be installed on any computer have now been bound and transformed into actual licenses (LICENSE keys) tied to a particular computer.

If you find yourself in this situation, please refer to the question I lost my licenses – is there a way to get them back?

Licenses are temporary but they were purchased

Once accounting verifies payment, your permanent licenses will be issued to you (in the form of extensions of your existing licenses). If you have any questions, please contact your account manager or sales@sidefx.com.

Clients cannot get a license from the server

Ensure that your License Server has a static IP address and all addresses are resolved correctly.

If the License Server itself uses DHCP to access the network, then it will not be able to serve licenses effectively. Either move the licenses to another License Server with a static IP address or assign a static IP address to the existing License Server.

Ensure that the netmask for the licenses is adequately open for your network. Netmasks are assigned by Side Effects Software and by default are a Class C network (+.+.+.*).

Also make sure that the clients can ping(see) the license server - by IP address and by hostname.

For example: ping hostname (where hostname is the name of the license server) or ping IP address (where IP address is the IP of the license server)

With Linux, an area to investigate is the /etc/hosts file. Ensure that you don't have anything appended to the line that contains the localhost. If you list your own hostname in the file, be sure to give it a separate IP address from the localhost (127.0.0.1).

In other words, ensure that you do not have a line containing: 127.0.0.1 localhost.localdomain localhost myhostname

Sometimes, you will have a problematic line like:

127.0.0.1 localhost 127.0.0.2 yourmachinename

If you have the license server on your own machine, this shouldn't be a problem. However, for those who rely on a remote server, this could become an issue.

If you do have a line like one of the above, edit /etc/hosts to look like this:

127.0.0.1 localhost.localdomain localhost 192.168.x.x yourmachine.yourdomain yourmachine

Houdini freezes on startup with no splashscreen or dialog popup

This issue seems to be with Linux machines running KDE:

The problem maybe a network port collision between KDEConnect and Houdini's licensing tools, namely ports 1714 and 1715.

You should be able to see the background process by running: ps -C kdeconnectd

The package is not required to run KDE, so you should be able to safely remove the package. On Debian-based Linux, this could be done by running the commands:

# do a dry-run first
sudo apt-get purge -s kdeconnect-plasma
# then, really remove the package
sudo apt-get purge kdeconnect-plasma/

Then, either restart your machine, or kill the background process manually: killall kdeconnectd

And now you should be able to run Houdini.

License server (sesinetd) does not start on boot

If you are running Fedora/RedHat/CentOS:

The culprit is most likely SELinux. You can create a policy for sesinetd or put SELinux into permissive mode in the SELinux configuration file.

Contact SideFX support

Before contacting support, please include your license diagnostic file. Please also either email from the account you use for Houdini licensing or include it in the body of your message so the team can look up the account.

If you are experiencing crashes, please send the crash log and the machine system information: Houdini's Help -> About Houdini -> click on "Show Details". Click the "save” button at the bottom, and attach the file.

To generate the license diagnostic file:

  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

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

Attach the file to an email and send it to support@sidefx.com.