August 29, 2011

Setting Up Network Licensing with AutoCAD for Mac 2012

Did you catch Autodesk’s Design 8.16 event? Autodesk released AutoCAD for Mac 2012, AutoCAD LT for Mac 2012, and a separate AutoCAD WS app for Mac OS X.

Whether you thought it was a worthy enough “big” announcement or not doesn’t matter - what you thought they would announce Revit for Mac from the AutoCAD team? There are a lot of AutoCAD users out there, and a lot of them are moving to the Mac platform. And to be honest I like seeing how they’re continuing to develop AutoCAD for Mac. Besides, I love any chance I get to jump on our iMac here.

Literally within minutes of the announcement I was downloading AutoCAD for Mac 2012, trying to will that progress bar to completion. So what feature of AutoCAD was I anxiously waiting to try out? Network Licensing, and not just your normal “run of the mill” network license, but the ability for AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD for Mac 2012 to share licenses! Meaning, a pool of AutoCAD licenses can be handed out regardless of platform, Windows or Mac. You don’t need separate AutoCAD and AutoCAD for Mac licenses. Aside from Express Tools… yeah, I don’t get it either; network licensing was the #1 request I saw from our customers. Typically, our AutoCAD for Mac customers are either mid-sized firms with the majority of users on Windows and a couple of users on Macs who need to use AutoCAD; and smaller firms solely on Macs.

I wanted to first check out how the network licensing works between the two platforms. I ran into a couple of issues, mostly dealing with the Mac on our network and getting everyone to talk with each other. This is what I want to pass along to our readers should they run into the same issues.

After completing the download and launching the installer I began going through the install screens.

When prompted for the server name, I typed in our license server’s host name just as I’ve done on countless other network installs and clicked Continue. This is where I ran into trouble. I got a message saying our license server couldn’t be contacted.

Which I thought was a little strange considering I could see the other PCs on our network through Finder and I could see the Mac on our network from the license server.

“Can you ping the server?” This is the first question we ask in support when customers call in with network license connection issues. And I admit it was a knee jerk reaction that caught me off guard. “I don’t know…” To ping another computer in Windows is easy. All you do is open the command prompt and type “ping,” but how do you do it in Mac OS? Well, after a little Googling I found out how. You simply go into Applications, Utilities, and launch the Network Utility. Once in the Network Utility, click Ping and type in the name of the computer you want to Ping - easy, right? And again I got an error when typing our license server’s host name. So then I tried the IP address and this time it worked. 

I then went back to the installation and replaced the server name with the server IP address and this time I didn’t get the error message and proceeded with the rest of the installation without trouble.

Just to be sure everything was working like it should, I clicked the Application Menu, About AutoCAD, and went into Product Information.

Sure enough, AutoCAD for pulled a regular AutoCAD license - success.

The lesson to be learned here is, when using network licensing for AutoCAD between Mac and Windows platform you’re better off using IP addresses than host names when trying to talk with the license server. This will resolve any kind of naming issues between the two.

So now I’m up and running with AutoCAD for Mac 2012 pulling an AutoCAD license. And it works seamlessly; really happy Autodesk decided to go this route. It just makes sense, an AutoCAD license is an AutoCAD license whether you’re on AutoCAD for Windows or AutoCAD for Mac. But it still bugs me I can’t ping the license server by host name. After some more Googling I’ve isolated the issue to be a problem with DNS naming for the Mac; it even pulls old host names from our network instead of using the one I created. If anyone is reading this and knows the answer, hit me up on Twitter and let me know.

I hope this helps those of you out there that run into the same problem. Next up, setting up the license server on a Mac for a Mac only licensing environment.

Derek Wielkopolski
Technical Support Manager/Application Specialist

Derek holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Roger Williams University, Rhode Island. He is experienced working within the AEC industry from concept design through construction administration for both small and large scale projects. As Ideate’s Support Manager he ensures a timely and quality response to support requests and questions. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dwielk