Parent page: Advanced Topics
For organizations that require their Altium Designer installations to remain offline – isolated from the internet – the convenience and flexibility of on-demand software licensing can be provided by a localized Altium Private License Service, rather than from the cloud-based Altium Licensing Service.
The dedicated Private License Service (PLS), implemented on a PC connected to the company LAN/WAN, is set up by an administrator to acquire the company's Altium licenses locally and then serve these to Altium Designer installations as required.
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 Service – which in turn is hosted on a local LAN/WAN that may be isolated from the internet.
Historically, the Altium Private License Service (PLS) has been available as a standalone application (legacy PLS v1.0) that is installed as a Windows service on the host machine. Supporting today's need for more sophisticated software license management, the current releases of the Enterprise Server offer an enhanced and simplified implementation of the PLS is available as part of the server's installation. The Enterprise Server Private License Service supports several modes of operation, is configurable as a central or local License Service, and can serve both Altium Designer and Altium server licenses over the local network – plus much more.
If it's not already in place, the first step in using the Enterprise Server PLS is installing and licensing the Enterprise Server.
► See Installing the Enterprise Server
The Enterprise Server's functionality, including its Private License Service (PLS), becomes available when the Enterprise Server itself has been licensed by the addition of a suitable
Altium Enterprise Server License. To enable users to sign in to the Enterprise Server from Altium Designer, a valid
Altium Enterprise Server CAL license (Client Access License) is also required.
The Enterprise Server provides a flexible self-licensing method for adding or acquiring Altium licenses. This is available through the Licenses page (Admin » Licenses) of the Enterprise Server Workspace's browser interface, which provides the connection to the Altium Licensing portal () from where your company's Altium licenses can be locally acquired.
► See Enterprise Server Licensing for detailed information on acquiring and configuring licenses in the Enterprise Server.
In summary, the Enterprise Server and its client connections can be licensed by:
acquiring Server and Client Access (CAL) licenses from the online Altium License service portal. This uses the From cloud option, outlined above. Sign out then back into the Enterprise Server Workspace's browser interface to enable its newly licensed features.
Note that a CAL license is not required if Users will not be accessing the Enterprise Server – that is, the server will be used as a Licensing Server only.
connecting to the PLS service in another Altium server (such as a central license service) that offers acquired Altium Enterprise Server licenses with available seats.
► See the External PLS mode below for details on this licensing option.
importing existing license
alf files from disk.
This uses the From file option and effectively 'acquires' server licenses that you already have locally. Sign out then back into the Workspace's browser interface to enable its newly licensed features. If these are multi-seat licenses, they can be served over the network to license other compatible software.
► See Obtaining License Files for information on acquiring license files from the Altium Dashboard.
With the Enterprise Server successfully licensed from the Cloud or existing license files, the Private License Service is ready to be configured to serve licenses over the local network. Additional Altium Designer licenses purchased by your company can be acquired through the Workspace's browser interface License Manager page – Admin » Licenses.
To add a license to the Enterprise Server, 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 the Enterprise Server will acquire.
Newly acquired licenses are subsequently included in the 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 Workspace users. This can be confirmed from the License Edit page, accessed by clicking the button associated with a license entry.
Once the Enterprise Server has been installed and licensed (as above), licenses that are acquired can be made available on the host network by the server's Private License Service (PLS). To provide the maximum flexibility in how licenses are served to network-based clients (Altium Designer and other server installations), the PLS can be configured and used in different modes of operation, as summarized below:
► See the Enterprise Server PLS mode comparison table for a practical summary of each mode.
As a reminder, before using the server's PLS in any of its modes the Enterprise Server 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 from the Altium Dashboard or via a separate Altium server that is connected to the internet, and then transferred to the local Enterprise Server as individual license files.
The acquired licenses, such as Altium Server and Connection (CAL) licenses or Altium Designer licenses, can then be served over the local network by the PLS.
As implied by the name, the Enterprise Server's No PLS mode is essentially the server in its standard (default) configuration, where the PLS is not enabled.
As such it does not offer Altium licenses over the network, however licenses can still be acquired from the Altium License service portal. This function supports the Enterprise Server's capability of being 'self' licensed from acquired licenses or imported
alf license files, which exist alongside the legacy method of placing license files in the installation root folder.
To select this mode, check the No PLS option on the License Manager page in the Workspace's 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 Roles when served over the network by the PLS, as outlined below. Click to confirm any setting changes.
In this server PLS configuration, licenses will be made available to Altium Designer and Server installations hosted on the network. The Enterprise Server 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 Workspace's browser interface – Admin » Settings – License manager.
The PLS will expose licenses to Altium Designer when the user signs in to the Enterprise Server. Server Licenses will become available to other servers on the network when the Enterprise Server PLS is in the 'No Authentication' security mode (see options below).
The Local PLS mode provides additional 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. Click to confirm any setting changes.
The server PLS authentication mode can be set to Server Session or No Authentication depending on how you would like to make licenses available to network clients (Altium Designer and servers). Use the License Manager Authentication drop-down menu to make the selection.
The current client connection session is granted access to licenses – a session is instigated by signing in to the Enterprise Server Workspace from Altium Designer. This is the server's standard PLS mode, where license access is bound to an Enterprise Server session. Select Team » Sessions from the main menu to view and manage the current connection sessions.
Since the PLS connection is verified by an active session in this security mode, licenses cannot be accessed by other servers on the network (which do not sign in) or from the internal PLS setup connection in Altium Designer. Licenses are available when a User signs in to the Enterprise Server from Altium Designer.
Any connection to the server 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 sign in to the Enterprise Server Workspace, or when the Enterprise Server is set up as a central Private License Service (a Licensing Server) in a multiple server configuration.
user_name server_name. The user will only have access to the licenses associated with that generated User account – as determined by its subsequently assigned Role membership. This action can be disabled by unchecking the Automatic user creation option (see below).
When checked (default setting), the Enterprise Server PLS will automatically generate a user account that corresponds to the server sign in account. So if a user signs in to, say, the
LicenseServer server using the registered
Trevor User account, the PLS automatically creates a User named
Trevor LicenseServer (
user_name server_name) – this is the 'active' Name that should be used for Role membership, and therefore to determine license distribution. See Automatic User sync functionality below for more information.
If the Automatic user creation option is unchecked, the server user account (
Trevor) will not be able to connect to the PLS (and therefore available licenses) unless the corresponding
user_name server_name account already exists. In the majority of circumstances this option should be enabled. The exception might be where the server Administrator wishes to predetermine which Enterprise Server user accounts may be used to connect to the server when in No Authentication mode.
In addition, the Enterprise Server PLS will automatically generate a user account (set to the user's Windows Account Name) if a User connects through the Setup Private License Server feature in Altium Designer, rather than signing in to the Enterprise Server – note that the generated User name is in a different format to that described immediately above. See Licensing without Server sign in below.
► See the Existing User section for a summary table of server User profile types.
The Seat return timeout interval option is included to force a leased license to expire after Altium Designer has not responded to the PLS for the specified number of hours.
The PLS regularly queries a design 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 Local PLS 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 Altium Designer users that connect to the server, regardless of the Role group a user is assigned to.
In Local PLS mode, licenses that have been configured and exposed by the Private License Service 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 Enterprise Server PLS, sign in to your Enterprise Server Workspace from Altium Designer – the dialog associated checkbox can be used to automate the sign in.
Once an Altium client is connected to the Enterprise Server and its PLS, the 'Available Licenses' area of the Altium Designer's License Management page will be populated with the list of private licenses provided by the server's PLS connection, under the category Private Server – Connected to xxx, where 'xxx' indicates the name of the server that is offering the licenses. Use the design client's License Management option from the User drop down menu (upper right) to access the License Management page.
To lease a license for the Altium Designer installation, select the desired license entry in 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 Altium Designer, beyond signing in to the server.
The status of the selected license will then change to indicate that it is used by you – expand (►) the license entry to see its current users. Note that its Assigned Seat Count field will change to indicate 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 Enterprise Server Workspace (go to Admin » Licenses in the Workspace's browser interface).
The status of the license is also visible in the Workspace browser interface on the License Manager page (Admin – Licenses). Expand the license entry () to see the current leasing details and, if required, to terminate the current user's leasing session by clicking the Release command.
► See the Server PLS mode comparison table for a relative summary of Local PLS mode.
The Enterprise Server's External PLS configuration mode is intended for installations where multiple servers are present on the network and one is configured as a central (remote) Private License Service for all users. This type of installation is suited to a larger enterprise, where each company department (Engineering, Development, etc) might use multiple Altium Designer installations and a local department server for design data management purposes. Both the department design data servers and Altium Designer installations are licensed by a central Licensing Service such as the PLS in an Altium Server or an Altium Infrastructure Server, which is dedicated to that task.
In this arrangement the servers are configured as follows:
To switch the local server to External PLS mode, select the External PLS option on the License Manager page in the Workspace's browser interface – Admin » Settings – License manager.
In this mode, the Enterprise Server connects to and uses an external PLS (such a remote server PLS that has been set up as a Central Licensing Server) in place of its own licensing service (PLS). The network address of the Central License Server in the above image, and therefore the target for the external PLS 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 Server (now set up in External PLS mode), the remote server PLS service is 'redirected' through the local Enterprise Server and will offer its licenses to Altium Designer. As usual, the user must use valid (local) credentials to sign in to the local server.
The External PLS options and settings are as outlined below. Typically, this setup is used for a local/department server where both Altium Designer and server licenses are managed by a remote central licensing service.
The associated PLS url and PLS Port settings should match that of the external server configuration. The URL is the address (network name) of the remote PC that hosts the 'central' server PLS, 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 server's installation folder.
► See the Server 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 server used as a Central Licensing Server.
As outlined above, to implement a centralized licensing system based on multiple Altium Servers, one server is configured as a Central PLS that serves licenses to Local (say, department) Servers and their assigned Users. The Central Licensing Server is set to Local PLS mode (and 'No Authentication'), and Local Servers are set to Externals PLS mode where their assigned PLS is the remote Central Licensing Server.
When Altium Designer users sign in to their Local Server, they have access to licenses that have been 'redirected' from the (external) PLS in the Central Licensing Server.
Part of the mechanism involved in granting a User access to remote licenses via the Local Server, is the creation of a 'synchronized' user name in the Central Licensing Server – the local User Name is synchronized to the Central Licensing Server. See Automatic user creation in No Authentication mode, above.
The created User profile in the Licensing Server has the composite User account name;
user_name server_name, where
server_name refers to the network name of the user's Local (Department) Server, and
user_name refers to the name used to sign in to that Local Server. The composite name refers to the user's 'local' account.
For example, if user
Trevor signs in to his assigned local server (Department Server hosted on
CADDESIGN), the PLS in the central server (Licensing Server hosted on
LicenseServer) will allow license access by creating a User entry named
Trevor CADDESIGN. The First Name and Last Name of the new user profile will be
CADDESIGN, respectively (local department User and Server) – the account's Username is
In this case, an Altium Designer license in the remote Licensing Server will be shown as leased by
Trevor CADDESIGN – which is the synchronized
Trevor user from the Local Server (the Department Server hosted on
CADDESIGN). Even though the Altium Designer user is signed into the local department server, the Altium Designer license is provided by the remote Licensing Server PLS (via the local server). Note that Altium Designer shows a license as leased to the User account Username, which for the created user in this example case is
User profiles that have been synchronized to a Central PLS server in a multi-server setup can be added to Roles, just as with any other Server set to Local PLS mode.
In the case of a server arrangement that consists of a central Licensing Server and distributed Local Servers (as detailed above), the duplicate (synced) Users in the Licensing Server can be added to Roles to constrain license availability. Therefore, when a User signs in to a Local Server, the licenses made available to the User (from the external Licensing Server PLS via the Local Server) will be determined by the Roles and License assignments configured for that synchronized User in the central Licensing Server.
In the above example, the synced user
Trevor CADDESIGN (the
Trevor user synced from the Local Server) in the Licensing Server might be added to an
Engineering Role, which has a particular Altium Designer license assigned to it. When user
Trevor signs in to his local server, the specified license will become available by virtue of the associated user Role and License assignment configuration in the external Licensing Server.
Generally, these user Role and License assignments would be implemented by the Licensing Server administrator, once a Local Server 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 data management capabilities of the Enterprise Server, and therefore do not sign in to the server, Altium Designer can access licenses from the server's PLS using Altium Designer's internal PLS setup (as outlined below). For this approach, the Enterprise Server is set up as follows:
To access the Server-hosted licenses in Altium Designer (without sign-in), select Setup private license server on the License Management view. Use the License Management option from the Account drop-down menu to access the License Management view.
Enter the basic server details for the PLS in the Private License Server Setup dialog, and click OK. The server name will be the network (computer) name of the PC that is hosting the Enterprise Server, and the standard port is
9780 – use port
9785 and the server's FQDN to establish a secure
https connection (see example). 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 Enterprise Server may be set to Automatic Leasing mode, so that no user intervention is required in Altium Designer, beyond activating the Private license server connection initially.
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. On the server side, the license entry on the License Manager page (Admin » Licenses) will show that a seat has been taken by a User Name derived from the Altium Designer's host PC – see the below section for more information.
When a user has connected to the Enterprise Server PLS from Altium Designer without signing in (as described above), a User profile is created in the server that matches the connecting Computer Name and its active Windows User Account Name – that is, the computer and Windows account that hosts Altium Designer.
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 server PLS that hosts that license will create a user named
Design PC4, with First/Last Name;
PC4 and a Username
Again, this is the server User Name that may be added to Role(s), which in turn will determine which 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 Enterprise Server's PLS can be configured to associate specific licenses with defined user Roles (groups of Users). In practice, when a user signs in to the server, 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 Enterprise Server if it is currently in use for managing and storing Altium Designer design data. Licenses hosted by the server are assigned to 'All Users' by default, but can be reassigned to any available Role. Similarly, Users can be added to any available Role.
To add a new User profile and add it to a Role, select Users from the browser's main menu to see the list of registered Enterprise Server user names, then select the button.
Add the new User's details in the pop up Add User dialog and click the button to commit the changes. The dialog includes a couple of notable entry fields:
► See Adding Users & Roles for more detailed information about Users.
To add a new Role and then add an existing User as a member, select Roles from the browser's main menu to see the list of existing Role names, then select the button.
Add the name of the new Role 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 – select full the Member name to confirm your choice. Click the dialog's button to commit the changes.
► See Adding Users & Roles for more detailed information about Roles.
Existing Users can be made members of a Role (or Roles) by editing their user profile. Click the User entry's associated icon to open the User Editing dialog, check Roles you wish to add in the User Roles list and then click the button to commit the changes. A Role can also be added by typing into the New Roles field, as described above.
Note that an existing User can be represented 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 server Session by sign-in.
|User||Username||First Name||Last Name||Account Creator||Circumstances|
|Trevor Smith||Trevor||Trevor||Smith||Manually entered||A standard User account, added by a Server administrator.|
|Design PC4||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 Licensing Server and multiple Local Servers arrangement (see External PLS mode), User Role membership is applied in the Central PLS for licensing purposes, rather than at a Local Server level.
In a Central/Local multi-server setup, the User configuration process would be, typically:
In Local PLS mode, the Enterprise Server PLS can selectively offer Altium Designer licenses that have been assigned to a specific Role, which in turn, can be associated with a server User account. By default (unless otherwise specified), all licenses acquired by the Enterprise Server 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 Workspace's 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.
A license can be assigned to a Role by opening the Add/Edit assignment dialog with the button, then selecting an available license, its target Role and the assignment options.
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, 10 seats of a specific 20-seat Altium Designer license are being assigned to the
Engineers 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.
In the above license assignment scenario, 10 seats of a 20-seat Altium Designer license have been assigned to the
Engineers Role and therefore its members. If the default
All Users Role assignment associated with the license was not otherwise removed, and both assignments existed, the license would not be available exclusively to members of the
Engineers Role – it would be available to all server users.
To remove an existing license assignment, click the delete button () associated with its entry. A license assignment can be edited via its associated 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 (set up under the main Team pages) for a flexible approach to allocating licenses and seats to Users.
The Enterprise Server-based Private License Service (PLS) 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 Workspace browser 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 Release link 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.
The Enterprise Server provides 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 server license usage features are accessed through the browser interface under the Reports tab on the License Manager page (Admin » Licenses). This offers an extensive 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 activity of a particular License for example, select the license of interest from the Licenses drop down menu and click . Additional licenses can be added as needed – licenses are differentiated by their Activation Code. 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 that license.
The Reports 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.
If Altium Designer is not able to connect to the Enterprise Server PLS, or licenses that you have acquired and configured in the PLS are not appearing in Altium Designer's 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 server's installation.
user_name server_nameaccount. Conversely, if you are connecting to the PLS using the 'Setup private license server' option in Altium Designer, the Enterprise Server authentication must be set to 'No Authentication'.
The Enterprise Server PLS can be set to one of three distinct modes, each of which will suit particular licensing arrangements for Altium Designer and Altium Servers. The below table summarizes how the PLS manages and offers Altium licenses, when set to each PLS mode.
|No PLS mode||Local PLS mode||External PLS mode|
|Server license location:||Local||Local||Local or External|
|User authentication:||n/a||Server Session||No Authentication||n/a|
|Altium Server licenses served to network:||No||No||Yes||Yes – Licenses sourced from external server PLS.|
|Altium Designer licenses served to network:||No||Yes||Yes||Yes – Licenses sourced from external server PLS.|
|Altium Designer license access using internal PLS setup:||No||No||Yes||No|