Guidelines for troubleshooting Ghost Solution Suite licensing issues
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Guidelines for troubleshooting Ghost Solution Suite licensing issues


Article ID: 180835


Updated On:


Ghost Solution Suite







This document will overview some of the terms and processes of licensing and will also help troubleshoot common licensing issues.


Product Licensing Utility

: The program is used to apply licenses to a Ghost Solution Suite after installation. By default the program is in the file path C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\license.exe. It can also be accessed in Windows from Start > All Programs > Altiris > Deployment Solution > Product Licensing Utility.


: Stands for Annual Upgrade Protection. Also referred in the Ghost Solution Suite Server console and Product Licensing Utility as "SW Maint.ends:". AUP allows registered Altiris software users to upgrade to any version of the registered product that is released during the coverage period without paying an upgrade charge. Regular production licenses will never have a license expiration date, but will always have an AUP date. As long as this date is not expired you can use that license to register any version of Deployment Server.

Licensed Nodes

: The total number of client and server computers that a Ghost Solution Suite Server is licensed for. Each client computers that has an agent on it and that communicates actively with the Deployment Server uses a single license node. This number can be seen by selecting in the Win32 Ghost Solution Suite Server console Help > About and looking to the right of "Total:". When applying a license with the Product Licensing Utility, and after selecting the license file, upon viewing the license details this number will show next to "Nodes:".

Ghost Solution Suite and PCT

: These are common abbreviations for Ghost Solution Suite and PC Transplant. Both of these products are licensed with the same licensing model, and very often a single license will apply to both products at once, although some licenses will only apply to PC Transplant.

Expired License

: All regular licenses (that are purchased) never expire. Evaluation licenses however do have an expiration date. After this date, those trial or evaluation licenses will no longer function and will need to be replaced with a regular license.

Licensing Model

Ghost Solution Suite and PC Transplant both use .slf files to license nodes for their respective product. These are binary files that cannot be opened and viewed with a text editor such as Notepad. A license can be applied to a product either as a replacement (this would be done if you were using evaluation licenses and wanted to remove the expiring trial license) or a license can be applied additively to the existing licenses. (This option would be used if you had purchased new license nodes or had purchased extended AUP for your existing licenses.) You should never replace the existing licenses while running the Product Licensing Utility unless you are currently using only trial licenses.

Our licensing department does not currently create "combined" or "cumulative" licenses for Deployment Server. If you purchase new nodes and purchase extended AUP for previous licenses, you will need to use your previous license files in addition to the new license nodes along with the AUP update licenses.

Here’s an example of this in practice. Altiris customer Bob purchased at one time 1,000 nodes of Ghost Solutions Suite 3.x for use on that product. He then recently purchased 500 new nodes for Ghost Solutions Suite 3.x as well as extended the AUP for those Ghost Solution Suite 3.x . At this time Bob has three licenses files. Bob installs Deployment Solution 6.5 on a new server and needs to license that server for 1500 nodes. He will need to first apply the 5.6 licenses (with the expired AUP), then apply the AUP update license, and finally apply the 500 additional new license nodes. For this reason it is always a good idea to keep backups of all license files received from Altiris as even an older license with expired AUP might be needed for a reinstallation of a server.

What is getting licensed and where it is stored

Deployment Server and PC Transplant both store their license information in the main program executables. No information is stored in the database or registry about license node counts or AUP. The files that store this information for Deployment Server and PC Transplant are named and are in the following default paths respectively.

C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\eXpress.exe

C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server\PCT\PCTWiz.exe

Because the licenses are stored in these files, if these files are somehow deleted or removed and then later replaced with new files, you would need to reapply your licenses using the Product Licensing Utility. If you are planning on backing up your Ghost Solution Suite Server to migrate it over to a new server of the same version of Ghost Solution Suite, or if you were rebuilding your server, it would be a good idea to also back up those executables and then copy them over to the new Ghost Souitons Suite Server. This would license your Ghost Solution Suite without having to reapply all of your licenses.

Expired Licenses

Regular Ghost Solution Suite Server licenses do not expire; however the 7-day trial license, the 30-day evaluation licenses, and built-in HP 30-day licenses do expire, and can cause some problems if not replaced properly after adding regular licenses. Computers with expired licenses become dead nodes and can no longer be managed by the DS console. You can tell that you have expired computer licenses if when you try to run a job on a computer and it gives you an error message stating that the license has expired.

Licenses are tracked in two places within the Ghost Solution Suite Server application. One of these is the total license count, which dictates if new computer nodes can be added into the console. The other license is tracked per each managed machine. When a license is first installed on the Ghost Solution Suite Server, each computer in the database takes a license node. If this node is a temporary license, then that computer has a tag in the database that says it is a trial node. If that license is not replaced before the time limit then that computer will stop accepting jobs or any type of remote management.

When the Ghost Solution Suite Server receives new regular licenses, it does not by default release the trial license nodes that it was using before. This can cause problems if the trial licenses are still being used and they expire even after you apply a regular license. There are two ways to deal with this lingering expired license issue.

First, you can set up a global option that will automatically replace any trial license with a regular license as soon as they become available. In the Win32 console select from the menu bar Tools > Options > Global tab. From here you can check the box "Automatically replace expired trial licenses with available regular licenses." When this is set you should not have any problems with computer node licenses expiring, as long as you have sufficient regular licenses.

The second way you can deal with expired licenses is to reapply all of the regular licenses to the computer nodes. This can be done by right-clicking on the computer group "All Computers" (or any other computer group you need to do this to) and then selecting Advanced > Apply Regular License. This will make all computer nodes in that group release whatever license node they were using, and then take a regular license node.

The first solution provided is a better long term and preventative solution to expired license issues. The second solution is good if the first doesn’t resolve the issue, or if you want to see an immediate resolution.

Thin Clients

A common misconception is that HP Thin Clients require a Ghost Solution Suite license. Ghost Solution Suite Server detects HP Thin Clients and allows them to be managed free of charge.

No license slots available—zero node licenses

Many customers are concerned that after they apply new licenses they get an error message saying that they have no license slots available, and when they check their license count they see that they are licensed for zero nodes.

The main reason for this issue is because a zero node license was applied and the option was checked to "Replace existing licenses." When you purchase an AUP update for a license that you already have purchased, our licensing team will generate a license file that has the new AUP, but that has no node count. You still will want to keep the old license with the expired AUP, because it still contains the nodes. At this time we do not combine Deployment Server licenses, so always keep all of your old license files.

If you are having this issue on your server, you will need to first apply the older outdated licenses first, and then reapply your new AUP update licenses without checking the box "Replace existing licenses."

1. Open the "Altiris eXpress Server" Control Panel Applet, click the Options button, go to the Drive Mappings tab and set the Data Store path to the install location of Deployment Server. Default is C:\Program Files\Altiris\eXpress\Deployment Server.

2. If Services are using Local System such as Altiris database management, Data Manager, Express Server, PXE manager add the account to the local admin group and restart the Deployment Solution services or change to a Local/Domain Admin account.

3. Open Deployment Server Console, right-click on All Computers and then go to Advanced > Apply and apply the regular license. The clients will disconnect and reconnect.