Autodesk Network Licensing



Due to the complexity of Autodesk’s Network Licensing system, CADapult offers a process for configuring a Network License Manager (NLM) server for activating Autodesk programs.

NLM Concepts:

The Autodesk Network License Manager (or NLM) is a minor background service installed on a servers. The NLM activates software based on the number of seats a company purchases under network activation. It manages product activation by providing an available seat to any user running a network installation of an Autodesk product form a pool of licenses defined by a license file. License files are plain text files with a .LIC extension, provided by Autodesk after registering serial numbers to a client account. The resulting license file contains relative product information and activation keys for network licensed products. The NLM uses a simple application named LMTOOLS for configuring services to manage seat allocation as required. Once network-licensed Autodesk software is installed on any workstation though manual installation or deployment, it will communicate with the license server define in the installation for activation. A successful activation pulls a seat from the license pool. When there are no available seats remaining, additional users do not get an activated product. There are three network licensing models: Single Server, Distributed Server, and Redundant Server. The following process summarizes the steps for configuring a Single Server model, which is the most common setup. It enlists a “single” network license server for managing a complete license scheme. Information on other models can be found

Network License Files and Multiple Products / Suites:

Typically, Autodesk products are separate and require a dedicated license run. However, buy purchasing a product suite, a single license activate any products contained in the suite. A complete list of design and creation suites Autodesk offers can be found here. If multiple network activated products are owned, each will it’s own license file. These file are then combined in a single “master” .LIC file and loaded into the network license manager. Directions for combining and testing license files are provided below. Be aware that individual seats of the same product can be consolidate into a single serial number with multiple seats by request though Autodesk. This makes license management easy and compact.

NLM Requirements:

The NLM does not require a lot machine resource, and can be installed on any office server. However, because the NLM is critical for production, the NLM should only be installed on a on a resource with 100% availability. It also recommended not to install it on a file server. If the file server is crashes, Autodesk programs will still run, and work can resume locally until the file system is available. There are three (3) requirements for creating an NLM server:

  • A server
  • Credentials with Administrative rights
  • Network license files (.lic) (obtained from Autodesk, see details below)

It is also recommended that a network shared folder for source installation files (media or downloaded from Subscription Center) and deployment packages. For more information, see the CADapult blog post “Creating Autodesk Network Deployments”.

Installing the Network License Manager:

To install the Autodesk Network License Manager, while logged onto the NLM server with Administrative privileges do the following:

1.  Run Setup.exe either from disc, thumb drive, or download, (launches Installation Wizard)


2.  Click Install Tools & Utilities button (launches Install > Configure Installation window)


3.  Check box next to Network License Manager

4. Keep installation path set to C:\Program Files\Autodesk\ (Recommended), or click the Browse… button for a new installation location

5.  Click the Install button Note:  Autodesk provides 32- and 64-bit versions of the NLM in the installation media, so the correct version will be installed based on the operating system. A 32-bit NLM should not be installed on a 64-bit OS. This is only possible if the Network License Manager is downloaded as an individual package, rather than installed from media.

Acquiring License Files

Once the NLM is installed, it needs to be configured however, a license file is required as part of the configuration process. The license file requires the following information to be generated:

  • Server Name (Host Name)
  • MAC Address (Host ID)
  • Serial Number
  • Product Key

1.  The MAC address can be obtained from the License Manager (LM). This is done by: 1.  Launch the run dialog using the Windows key + R


2.  Type cmd, click OK (launches Command Prompt window)


3.  Type ipconfig /all and press Enter key (displays network configuration information)


4.  Here you will look for the Ethernet Adapter, Physical address (highlighted above), be certain not to take the Wireless LAN physical address. Note: there may be a second Ethernet adapter value as some servers have dual Network Adaptors or (NICs). Take the primary connections settings which will be the first in the list. 6.   Next find the serial information and product key for each network activated Autodesk product. This information is provided by Autodesk to the Contract Manager on record for the account when new software is purchased or subscriptions renewed. It can also be provided by each company’s Autodesk Reseller. With Server Name (Host Name), MAC Address (Host ID), Serial Number(s), and Product Key, navigate to to register each product and receive a license file. License files can only be “generated” by Autodesk, however anyone can register and activate software. This site will ask for the pieces of information in a specific sequence so keep all information readily available until all product serial numbers have been activate and license files generated for each. Be certain to use the same convention for entering the server name for each license requested as the server name is case sensitive. This means use either all lowercase, CAPS, or mixture. For example use:

  • servername
  • ServerName

After each files is generated, copy and paste the file preview into an empty text file, use the save as feature, or wait for it to be emailed to the contract manager. Save the resulting files it to the location where the NLM was installed (e.g. C:\Program Files\Autodesk Network License Manager) in a folder called Licenses. Note: registration uses both the product serial number and MAC address (or Host ID) of the server to generate an activation key contained inside each license, so each license file is tied to that NLM server. If the NLM is moved to another server, new license files are required with the new server name and MAC address.  from Autodesk. There are not fess or penalties for requesting licenses. Also, if there are multiple products to activate, complete the registration for all within the same 24 hour period, as this could cause issues in the consolidate license file that is loaded into the NLM. If there are issues obtaining the file(s) online, contact Autodesk directly to get a license file for by calling 800-538-6401. Alternatively, the account’s reseller can do this for you.

For a Suite product, you have a single serial number and will get a single license file which will cover all applications in the Suite. If you have more than one Autodesk product – for example, you have 7 licenses of Autodesk Revit Architecture Suite, 3 licenses of AutoCAD Revit MEP Suite and a license of Civil3D – register each Suite  separately and get separate license files for each one. Each one will cover all of the licenses you have for that product. You need to then combine all of these .LIC files into a single “master” .LIC that will be used by the NLM as directed below.

A Note about Suite Licenses

Confusion usually comes up trying to understand how licensing works with a Suite product, where you have multiple applications under a single product/serial number installed across your organization. Suites are packaged and licensed as single products; however, suite licenses are granted on a per machine basis. That means that when you fire up an application from a suite – e.g., Revit Architecture from the Building Design Suite Premium (BDSP) – you consume one license for the BDSP on your machine. If you fire up another application in the suite, it will use the same license. You can have every app running at the same time and only consume that single license. One thing to consider is that the applications in some suites are different from what you may initially expect. For example, the Revit Architecture Suite includes “plain” AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit Architecture. However, the Revit MEP Suite only has AutoCAD MEP and Revit MEP; it does not include “plain” AutoCAD. This means that if you have a combination of Revit Architecture Suite and Revit MEP Suite installations, those Revit MEP installations cannot install a “plain” AutoCAD without consuming a Revit Architecture license. The solution in this case is to install AutoCAD MEP with the option to run it as plain AutoCAD, using the “AutoCAD MEP as AutoCAD” desktop icon and AutoCAD profile. The desktop icon launched AutoCAD MEP without the additional MEP-specific code.

Combining and Testing Licensing Files

Although it is a plain text file, a license .LIC file is very complex. Aside from copying and pasting complete files or increment information from one file into a master file, do NOT attempt to edit these files in any way, except as here and here. Once a single .LIC file is compiled, it can be tested it by submitting it to Autodesk’s online license file parser here: You will get a report of what products are covered by what sections of the license file. This page can be invaluable to diagnose complex license file problems. Move this master .LIC file to the location created above on the NLM server (e.g. C:\Program Files\Autodesk Network License Manager\Licenses).

Configuring the NLM Server to Use Your License Files:

On the server, fire up LMTOOLS > Config Services tab, and set the following settings: Service Name: Flexlm Service 1 (this is the default).Path to the lmgrd.exe – C:\Program Files\Autodesk Network License Manager\lmgrd.exe (the default). Path to license file: C:\Program Files\Autodesk Network License Manager\Licenses\MasterLicenseFileName.lic (as per step 11). Path to the debug log file: C:\Program Files\Autodesk Network License Manager\debug.log Check both “Start Server at Power Up” and “Use Service” check boxes. Hit the “Save Service” button. Go to the Start/Stop/Reread tab. You should see “Flexlm Service 1″ listed in the services box. Hit the “Start Server” button to start the service to listen for licensing requests. You should see “Using license file: C:\Program Files\Autodesk Network License Manager\Licenses\MasterLicenseFileName.lic” at the bottom of the dialog box. Go to Server Status tab and hit the “Perform Status Inquiry” button. You will see the status of the license server, the number of licenses available, and who has licenses in use.

Installing Network Licensed Software and Deployments:

At this point you can install your network licensed Autodesk software across your company’s workstations. When doing so, you must go into the Configure Product page to set your installation options (such as installing Express Tools) and make sure that you set the options to use a network license and specify which license model you are using. Enter the network server name which has the NLM installed. For installing the software across multiple workstations, it’s best to first create a Deployment (use setup.exe and select “Create Deployment”). A Deployment will have all of the installation options, license server configuration, and registration information included, so installation on a workstation is largely a single-click affair. When you create the Deployment, you want to make sure that you download and append the latest Service Pack update. There is a place in the Deployment setup program which will connect to Autodesk servers, download the update, and apply it when the application is installed. If you would like, we at CADapult LTD can assist you with setting up Deployments for your applications, as well as provide instructions for installation on client PCs. When a user at a workstation fires up the application, it should pull the license from the NLM server. You can then use LMTOOLS > Server Status > Perform Status Inquiry button on the NLM server to verify that the license has been pulled and that the entire licensing mechanism is working.