For organizations that require their Altium Designer installations to remain offline – isolated from the internet – the convenience and flexibly of on-demand software licensing can be provided by a localized Altium Private License Server, rather than from the internet-based Altium Licensing Service.
The dedicated Private License Server (PLS), implemented on a PC connected to the company LAN/WAN, is set up by an administrator to acquire the company's Altium licenses and then serve these to Altium Designer installations as required. When initially acquired from Altium's web-based license service, the licenses are converted to Private Licenses for localized access.
In a similar arrangement to using a license from the Altium License Service portal, a seat (instance) of a PLS-hosted Altium Designer license can be 'leased' by the software when it is in use, and then 'revoked' (returned to the available pool of licenses) when no longer required. With the Altium PLS, licenses can also be served on a Roaming basis, where the license seat is leased to the target machine for a specified time – this allows the Altium Designer host PC, say a laptop, to 'roam' freely while isolated from the network.
A PLS offers the flexibility required by companies that host multiple Altium Designer installations, with the bonus that the license and seat usage can be configured, monitored and controlled from a centralized Altium Private License Server – which in turn is hosted on a local LAN/WAN that may be isolated from the internet.
To date, the Altium Private License Server (PLS) has been available as a downloadable application (PLS v1.0) that is installed as a Windows service on the host machine. With the current releases of the Altium Vault, an enhanced and simplified implementation of the PLS is now available as part of the Vault installation, when licensed at a Component (or higher) level. The new Altium Vault Private License Service offers several modes of operation, is configurable as a central or local License Server, and can serve both Altium Designer and Altium Vault licenses over the local network – plus much more.
If it's not already in place, the first step in using the new Vault PLS is installing and licensing the Altium Vault.
The Altium Vault's functionality, including its Private License Server capabilities, becomes available when the Vault has been licensed by the addition of a suitable Altium Vault License.
In previous versions of the Altium Vault, this is done by placing
*.alf license files in the installation's root directory. The Vault now provides a flexible 'self licensing' method for adding or acquiring Altium licenses, available through its Licenses page (ADMIN » LICENSING).
With a fresh installation of the Altium Vault however, you will be guided through the licensing process by a sequence of hint instructions.
Begin the licensing process for a newly installed Altium Vault by logging in to its web interface (
computer_name:9780) from the PC that's hosting the Vault. You must be signed in as a Vault administrator, using the default name/password (
admin/admin) credentials or those of a configured admin account.
When signed in, the Vault's web interface will provide an alert indicating that the Vault is unlicensed. Select the Add License link to proceed to the License Manager page.
To add a license to the Vault server, click the button and select from the cloud or file options. The From cloud option will load a list of licenses available to your company from the online AltiumLive portal, whereas the From file option will open a file browser for selecting and importing existing
alf license files from disk.
Altium Account credentials are required to connect to the web-based Altium Licensing portal when using the From Cloud option. Note that these credentials allow the License Server to communicate directly with your Altium Live account for the initial acquisition of your company licenses, so the Vault's host machine needs access to the internet at this time.
As the Vault is not yet configured to connect to an account, an Altium Live Sign in dialog will automatically open to request your account credentials. Note that this is a one-off process – once the account credentials have been validated, they will be saved as part of the Vault's configuration (see ADMIN » SETTINGS – General|Altium Live Credentials).
The following Add Licenses dialog will list all Altium licenses available to your company, including those for Altium Designer and other Altium software. To activate the Vault features, choose a valid Altium Vault server license. To enable users to sign in to the Vault from Altium Designer, also select a valid Altium Vault CAL license (Client Access License).
Instigate the process of acquiring (or 'retrieving') those licenses from the remote Altium License Server to the local Vault by clicking the button. When the process is complete, the License Manager page will show the acquired licenses, along with an instruction to sign in/out to activate the Vault features. One seat of the Vault server license will be used, as indicated by the User Count field associated with that license.
Once you have signed out and back in to the Vault, its enabled commands will be available on the Main (top) and Admin menus (ADMIN).
In summary, the Altium Vault and its client connections can be licensed by:
alffiles from disk.
*.alflicense files in the root directory of the Vault installation (normally
C:\Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault), which is the method used for previous versions of the Altium Vault. The Vault will automatically import the license files when it restarts – a reboot may be required.
With the Vault successfully licensed from the Cloud or existing license files, the PLS is ready to be configured to serve licenses over the local network. Additional Altium software licenses purchased by your company can be acquired through the Vault's License Manager page – ADMIN » LICENSES.
To add a license to the Vault server, such as an Altium Designer license, click the button and select from the cloud (or file) options as before. Note that licenses may be acquired in bulk or individually – use the checkboxes in the Add license list to select which licenses to acquire to the Vault.
Newly acquired licenses are subsequently included in the Vault server's Licenses list. Licenses are set to the 'All Users' group by default (unless that option has been unchecked), making them available to all registered Vault users. This can be confirmed from the License Edit page, accessed by clicking the button associated with the license entry.
Once the Altium Vault and its Private License Server (PLS) has been installed and licensed (as above), licenses that are acquired from the Altium Licensing service can be made available on the host network. To provide the maximum flexibility in how licenses are served to network-based clients (Altium Designer and Altium Vault installations), the Vault PLS can be configured and used in different modes of operation, as summarized below:
– See the Vault PLS mode comparison table for a practical summary of each mode.
As a reminder, before using the Vault PLS in any of its modes the Vault needs to be configured to connect and sign in to the Altium License service portal, so that the licenses purchased by your organization can be acquired – it may be offline once this is complete. Alternatively, all the required licenses could be acquired via a separate Vault, which is connected to the internet, and then transferred to the local Vault as individual license files.
The acquired Altium licenses, such as Vault server, Vault Connection (CAL) and Altium Designer licenses, can then be served over the local network by the PLS.
As implied by the name, the Vault No PLS mode is essentially the Altium Vault in its standard configuration, where the PLS is not enabled.
As such it does not offer Altium Designer licenses over the network, however licenses can still be acquired from the Altium License service portal. This function supports the Vault's capability of being 'self' licensed from acquired licenses or imported
alf license files, which exists alongside the legacy method of placing license files in the installation root folder.
To switch to this mode, select the No PLS option on the License Manager page in the Vault browser interface – ADMIN » SETTINGS – License Manager.
The Automatically create assignment for All Users group option forces newly acquired licenses to be assigned to the default All Users group. How the licenses are assigned will affect their availability to user Roles when served over the network by the PLS, as outlined below.
In this Vault PLS configuration, licenses will be made available to Altium Designer and Altium Vault installations hosted on the network. The Vault is licensed as normal, through acquired licenses or
alf license files.
To switch to this mode, select the Local PLS option on the License Manager page in the Vault browser interface – ADMIN » SETTINGS – License Manager.
The PLS will expose licenses to Altium Designer when the user signs in to the Vault. Vault Licenses will become available to other Vaults on the network when the Vault PLS is in the 'No Authentication' security mode (see options below).
The Local PLS mode provides addition settings that determine which Users might be offered specific Altium Designer licenses (determined by User Roles), and how long a license will remain leased when not used.
The Vault PLS authentication mode can be set to 'Vault Session' or 'No Authentication' depending on how you would like to make licenses available to network clients (Altium Designer and the Altium Vault). Use the License Manager Authentication drop down menu to make the selection.
Vault Session: The current Vault connection session is granted access to licenses (a Vault Session is instigated by signing in to the Vault from Altium Designer). This is the Vault's standard PLS mode, where license access is bound to a Vault Session.
No Authentication: Any connection to the Vault PLS will be granted access to available licenses. This is a less restrictive mode that can be used for license access where Altium Designer users do not necessarily use the Vault, or when a Vault is set up as a central Private License Server in a multiple Vault configuration.
vault_name:user_name. The user will only have access to the licenses associated with that generated User Name – as determined by its Role membership. This action can be disabled by unchecking the Automatic user creation option (see below).
In practice, the two Local PLS authentication options will serve acquired licenses to the network as follows:
1. Altium Designer licenses are available to users that sign in to the Vault, based on matched User–to–License Role assignments.
1. Altium Designer licenses are available to users that sign in to the Vault, as determined by the Role membership of the generated
vault_name:user_name User profile.
2. Altium Designer and Altium Vault licenses are available to other Vaults that connect to it using External PLS mode.
3. Altium Designer licenses are available to Altium Designer's internal PLS setup connection.
When checked (default setting), the Vault PLS will automatically generate a user account that corresponds to the Vault sign in account. So if a user signs in to, say, the
RND Vault using the
Dev5 Vault User account, the PLS automatically creates a user named
vault_name:user_name) – this is the 'active' User Name that should be used for Role membership, and therefore to determine license distribution.
If the option is unchecked, the Vault user account will not be able to connect to the PLS unless the corresponding
vault_name:user_name account already exists.
The Vault PLS will also automatically generate a user account (set to the user's Windows Account Name) when a User connects through Altium Designer's Setup Private License Server feature, without signing in to the Vault. See Licensing without Vault sign in below.
The Seat return timeout interval option is included to force a leased license to expire after the Client (say, Altium Designer) has not responded to the PLS for the specified number of hours.
The PLS regularly queries a Client over the network and expects a response, however the responses will not be returned if the Client's host PC has lapsed into Suspended or Hibernation mode, for example – or if the Client application has crashed or been forcibly closed. When Client responses have not been received for a longer period of time than the nominated timeout interval (4 hours, by default), the license seat leased by the Client will be revoked and returned to the pool of available seats for that license.
This option is effectively a timed, automated version of the manual License Release feature.
When this option is checked (the default setting), newly acquired licenses will be assigned to the default All Users group. The served license will be accessible to all users that log into the Vault, regardless of what Role group a user is assigned to.
In Local PLS mode, licenses that have been configured and exposed by the Private License Server can be accessed by Altium Designer installations on the network, which act as clients to the PLS. To access an Altium Designer license provided by the Vault PLS, simply sign in to the Vault in Altium Designer (DXP » Sign in Altium Vault) – the dialog's checkboxes can be used to automate the sign in.
Once Altium Designer is connected to the Vault and its PLS, the 'Available Licenses' area of the License Management page (DXP » My Account) will be populated with the list of private licenses provided by the PLS connection, under the category Private Server – Connected to xxx, where 'xxx' indicates the name of the Vault that is serving the licenses.
To lease a license for the Altium Designer installation, select the desired license from the list and click the Use button. Note that a license hosted by the PLS may be set to Automatic Leasing mode, so that no user intervention is required in the client software, beyond signing in to the Vault.
The status of the selected license will then change to indicate that it is used by you. Note that its Assigned Seat Count field will change to reflect that a seat of the license has been taken, and this is also reflected by an incremented User Count for that license entry in the Vault PLS (go to ADMIN » LICENSES in the Vault browser interface).
– See the Vault PLS mode comparison table for a relative summary of Local PLS mode.
The External PLS configuration mode is intended for installations where multiple Vaults are present on the network and one Vault is used as a central (remote) Private License Server for all users. This type of installation is suited to a large enterprise, where each company department (Engineering, Development, etc) might use multiple Altium software installations, and a local department Vault for design data management purposes. Both the Altium Vaults and Altium software installations are licensed by a central Licensing Server such as the PLS in an Altium Vault, which is dedicated to that task.
In this arrangement the Vaults are configured as follows:
To switch the local Vault to External PLS mode, select the External PLS option on the License Manager page in the Vault browser interface – ADMIN » SETTINGS – License Manager.
In this mode, the Vault connects to and uses an external PLS service (such a remote Vault PLS that has been set up as a central license server) in place of its own PLS service. The network address of the central license server Vault in the above image, and therefore the target for the external PLS service connection, is
http://LicenseServer – this address is based on the
computer_name of the license server's host PC.
When an Altium Designer user signs in to the Local Vault (now set up in External PLS mode), the remote Vault PLS service is 'redirected' through the local Vault and will offer its licenses to Altium Designer. As usual, the user must use valid (local) credentials to sign in to the local Vault.
The External PLS options and settings are as follows:
The associated PLS url and PLS Port settings should match that of the external Vault configuration. The URL is the address (network name) of the remote PC that hosts the 'central' Vault, as indicated by the host PC's 'Computer Name' entry under
Control Panel\System and Security\System. In Windows 10, see Settings » System » About.
alflicense files that have been imported from disk or placed in the Vault installation folder.
– See the Vault PLS mode comparison table for a relative summary of External PLS mode.
The Automatically create assignment for All Users group option forces newly acquired licenses to be assigned to the default All Users role group. This option is disabled when the above Use local license manager for Vault licensing option is unchecked, since in that mode all licenses are sourced from the External PLS, such as the PLS in a remote Vault setup as a central Licensing Server.
To implement a centralized licensing system using multiple Altium Vaults, one Vault is configured as a Central PLS that serves licenses to Local Vaults and their assigned Users. As outlined above, the Central Licensing server is set to Local PLS mode (and 'No Authentication'), and Local (say, departmental) Vaults are set to Externals PLS mode where their assigned PLS is the remote Central Licensing Vault.
When Altium Designer users sign in to their local Vault, they have access to licenses that have been 'redirected' from the (external) Central Licensing Vault.
Part of the mechanism involved in granting a User access to remote licenses via the local Vault, is the creation of a 'synchronized' user name in the Central Licensing Vault – the local User Name is synchronized to the Central Licensing Vault. See Automatic user creation in No Authentication mode, above.
The created User profile in the Licensing Vault has the composite User Name;
vault_name refers to the network name of the user's Local (Departmental) Vault, and
user_name refers to the name used to sign in to the Local Vault. The composite name refers to the user's 'local' account.
For example, if user
JohnS signs in to his assigned local Vault (named
PC3), the central PLS will allow license access by creating a User called
PC3:JohnS. The First Name and Last Name of the user profile will be
PC3, respectively (local User/Vault).
User names that have been synchronized to a Central PLS Vault in a multi-vault setup can be added to Roles, as with any other Vaults set to Local PLS mode.
In the case of a Vault arrangement that consists of a central Licensing Vault and distributed Local Vaults (as detailed above), the duplicate (synced) Users in the Licensing Vault can be added to Roles as needed. Therefore, when a User signs in to a Local Vault, the licenses made available to the User (from the external Licensing Vault via the Local Vault) will be determined by the Roles and License assignments configured for that synchronized User in the central Licensing Vault.
In the above example, the synced user
JohnS user synced from the local vault) in the Licensing Vault might be added to a 'QA' Role, which has a particular Altium Designer license assigned to it. When user
JohnS signs in to his local Vault, the specified license will become available by virtue of the associated user Role and License assignment configuration in the external Licensing Vault.
These user Role and License assignments would generally be implemented by the Licensing Vault administrator, once a Local Vault user has signed in for the first time (thereby instigating the User sync process).
– See License Role Assignments below for more information on working with Roles and License assignments.
For Altium Designer users who do not use the Altium Vault, Altium Designer can access licenses from the Vault PLS service by using Altium Designer's internal PLS setup. For this approach, the Vault is set up as follows:
To access the Vault-hosted licenses in Altium Designer (without Vault sign-in), select Setup private license server on the License Management configuration page – DXP » My Account. Enter the basic server details for the PLS in the Private License Server Setup dialog, and click OK. The server name will be
localhost where the Vault PLS is installed on the same PC as Altium Designer, or it will be the network (computer) name of the PC that is hosting the Vault. The default port is
9780 – use port
9785 to establish a secure
https connection. The other dialog settings, such as the Servers list options apply to the legacy PLS 1.0 type connection.
Once connected to the PLS, the 'Available Licenses' area of the License Management page (under the category Private Server – Connected to...) will be populated with a list of private licenses that you are able to use.
To lease a license for the Altium Designer installation, select the desired license entry and click the Use button. Alternatively, a license hosted by the AIS may be set to Automatic Leasing mode, so that no user intervention is required in Altium Designer, beyond activating the Private license server connection.
Once leased, the status of the license will indicate that it is used by you – note that its Assigned Seat Count field will change to reflect that a seat of the license has been taken.
When a user has connected to a PLS without signing in to the Vault (as described above), a User profile is created in the Vault that matches the connecting Computer Name and its active Windows User Account Name .
For example, a user might be using a Windows account called
Design on a computer named
PC4. When Altium Designer's Setup private server license option is used to access a license, the Vault PLS that hosts that license will create a user named
Design, with First/Last Name;
Again, this is the Vault User Name that may be added to Role(s), which in turn will determine what licenses are made available to the
Design account on
– See below for more information on Roles and License assignments.
To control license availability for Altium Designer users, the PLS can be configured to associate specific licenses with defined user Roles (groups of Users). In practice, when a user signs in to the Vault, the PLS will offer only those licenses that are assigned to Roles that have the user as a member.
Users and user Roles may be already registered in the Altium Vault if the Vault is currently in use for managing and storing Altium Designer design data. Licenses may are assigned to 'All Users' by default, but can be reassigned to any available Role. Similarly, Users can be added to any available Role.
– See Managing the Users of an Altium Vault for more detailed information about Users.
Add the name of the new Role name in the Add Role dialog, and include any Users you would like as Members of that Role. The New Members field will dynamically search for an existing User that matches the first letter(s) you have typed. Click the dialog's button to commit the changes.
– See Managing the Users of an Altium Vault for more detailed information about Roles.
A Role may be added to an existing User by editing the entry's profile to include the desired Roles. Click the entry's icon to open the Edit User dialog, select from the available Roles(s) in the New Roles field and then save to commit the changes.
Note that existing User entries can exist in a number of formats, depending on how they were added. The formats include standard
Username/Firstname/Lastname entries, and entries that have been automatically generated by the PLS in response to incoming connections that do not instigate a Vault Session by sign-in.
|User Name||First Name||Last Name||Account Creator||Circumstances|
|JohnS||John||Smith||Manually entered||A standard User account, added by a Vault administrator.|
|Design||Design||PC4||Auto-generated||An Altium Designer user, working from the
In all cases, these User profiles can be made members of Roles by editing the user entry. Note that in a Central License Server and multiple Local Vaults arrangement (see External PLS mode), User Role membership is applied in the Central PLS, rather than at a Local Vault level.
In a Central/Local multi-vault setup, the User configuration process would be, typically:
In Local PLS mode, the Vault PLS can selectively offer Altium Designer licenses that have been assigned to a specific Role, which in turn, can be associated with a Vault User account. By default (unless otherwise specified), all licenses acquired by the Vault are assigned to the 'All Users' group, and therefore available to any User that connects to the PLS.
To view and edit the existing license Role assignments, go to ADMIN » LICENSES in the Vault browser interface and select the Roles tab. Click on a Role name in the Roles column to see its User members, and on the right, its assigned licenses.
The License type, the specific License and the proposed Role Assignment are all selectable from drop down menus, which will be populated with a list of those currently available. In the below example image, several Altium Designer type licenses are available, and a specific 20-seat license is being assigned to the 'Development' group Role.
The license assignment options include:
When the new license assignment configuration is complete, click to commit the assignment to the selected Role. For detail about the assigned license, select the expand option ( ) associated with its entry.
It's important to note that Licenses may have an 'All Users' assignment by default, so this assignment will need to be removed to make a license exclusively assigned to another Role, and its constituent users.
In the above license assignment scenario, the 20-seat Altium Designer license has been assigned to the 'Development' Role (and its single member, ArthurD), but is also available to all other users by virtue of its existing (default) 'All Users' Role assignment. Deleting the license's additional 'All Users' Role assignment will leave the license only assigned to the Development Role, rather than both – and thereby exclusively available to the Development group of Users.
To remove an existing license assignment, simply click the delete button () associated with its entry. A license assignment can also be edited via the button.
The License Manager page Roles tab provides an aggregate view of the current Roles, their constituent Users and the Licenses assigned to each Role group. This versatile interface can be used in combination with how Users are grouped in Roles (configured under the main Users tab) for a very flexible approach to allocating licenses and seats to Users.
The Vault based Private License Server offers a range of administration features for managing license allocation and usage, including the ability to forcibly release a leased license and closely monitor how licenses are used.
For situations where a license has been in use by Altium Designer but not correctly released by the software, the PLS offers provides a means of terminating that lease and returning the seat to the pool of available license seats. This can occur when the PC has lapsed into standby while Altium Designer is active, or through some form of software crash that has prevented a clean exit. In practice, that license seat is still registered as being in use and therefore denied to another user.
To locate the license of concern in this situation, go to the Licenses list in the Vault web interface by selecting ADMIN » LICENSES. Within the list of licenses shown under the Licenses tab, the leasing information for each entry is available by expanding the license entry with the button – use this to find the user that still retains the license seat.
The license leased to that user can be terminated, and the seat returned to the license pool, by clicking the button associated with the user entry and then confirming the action in the Release seat dialog. Altium Designer will notify the user that the license has been forcibly released by an administrator.
Note that the notification will only apply to network-based user clients, and not to a user that has leased a license on the local machine – that is, for an Altium Designer installation on the PC that hosts the Vault PLS.
The Private License Server includes a range of license usage monitoring and reporting features that can be used to audit how Altium Designer licenses are used within an organization. This is useful for ensuring that the best use is being made of the available license seats, for anticipating future license requirements and to determine the usage of individual Users.
The Vault license usage features are accessed through the administrator menu under the Reports tab on the License Manager page (ADMIN » LICENSES). This offers a range of reporting options that are accessed by specific tabs within the Reports view. Depending upon the type of information that's required for each report, the associated reporting filters can be applied to tailor the results to include specific Licenses, Roles, Users and time periods.
To filter the usage reporting results to show the license activity of a particular set of Licenses for example, select the licenses of interest from the Licenses drop down menu and click . The filtering action of the options remains in effect while each reporting style tab is selected, allowing you to see usage reports that are constrained to those licenses.
The Report page also offers the option to export the current report to disk in CSV format – compatible with Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet applications – for administration and accounting purposes. Select the desired report results using the appropriate tab and filtering for your needs, click the button and nominate a location to save the file to disk.
When working with Altium Designer, a user can receive a range of pop up Error dialogs from the Vault PLS in response to User Account, License and Seat allocation issues.
The text for the error codes presented in the dialogs can be modified by editing the contents of the
errors.xml file, which is located in the
LicenseManagerService directory of the Vault installation –
%VaultInstallationDir%\LicenseManagerService , or typically
C:\Program Files (x86)\Altium\Altium Vault\LicenseManagerService.
The error codes and their default messages are:
<Error code="1" text="User %USERNAME% not found. Please contact License Administrator."/>
<Error code="2" text="No available licenses. Please contact License Administrator."/>
<Error code="3" text="No more seats available. Please contact License Administrator."/>
Error code description:
If Altium Designer is not able to connect to the PLS, or licenses that you have acquired and configured in the PLS are not appearing in the Available Licenses list, there may be system or software settings that are preventing access.
When troubleshooting any issues, consider the following:
9780by default when transferring licensing data on the network. Check that this port has been opened in the host PC's firewall during the Vault installation.
vault_name:user_nameaccount. Conversely, if you are connecting to the PLS using Altium Designer's 'Setup private license server option', the Vault authentication must be set to 'No Authentication'.
The Altium Vault PLS can be set to one of three distinct modes, each of which will suit particular licensing arrangements for Altium Designer and the Altium Vault. The below table summarizes how a Vault PLS manages and offers Altium licenses, when set to each PLS mode.
|No PLS mode||Local PLS mode||External PLS mode|
|Vault license location:||Local||Local||Local or External|
|User authentication:||n/a||Vault Session||No Authentication||n/a|
|Altium Vault licenses served to network:||No||No||Yes||Yes – Licenses sourced from external Vault PLS.|
|Altium Designer licenses served to network:||No||Yes||Yes||Yes – Licenses sourced from external Vault PLS.|
|Altium Designer license access using internal PLS setup:||No||No||Yes||No|