Working with VMware License Files

There is a cardinal rule that we should all know about, especially for those of us who have spent a lot of time developing kickstart scripts for automated builds of the VMware hosts in your environment, that you do not use windows word editors like Notepad or WordPad when working with Linux files.  If you use notepad to edit Linux files it will add unwanted line feeds (LF) to the file which may cause the file to be misinterpreted. If you must use Microsoft Windows as your client OS use Microsoft WordPad which does not modify the file in this way.  If you have ever tried to troubleshoot why your script or file is not working once you edit with Notepad be prepared to pull a lot of your hair out. There are several different editors out there that can handle saving to the different formats.  One of my favorites editors to use is win32pad.

So what about the Virtual Infrastructure 3 license file? Since the license server runs on Windows you would think that any Windows editor should work properly right?  Well I had some fun working with a license file that has been edited by multiple people over time as the environment grew but as I was adding an edition to the license file and then had the license file re-read I discovered issues where the numbers of the different features were not adding up and was getting some errors about the license file not being in the correct version and actually, the message stated something to the extent that some part of the license file information was in a new format the License Server could not understand.  This error continued even after using VMware’s License Checker Portal as well as making sure the Virtual Infrastructure 3 License Server was the latest version.  The numbers just did not add up and the License Server seemed to strip part of the information out that it did not like.  I am pretty sure that different administrators, in the past, may have used WordPad as well as notepad to edit and add to the license file and that appears to be the issue with the file itself.

Once I was getting the same issues with the VMware License Checker Portal, where the numbers weren’t adding up and were even worse once I loaded the changed file into the license server.  I ended up opening a support ticket with VMware to see if they could find any issues or see something I was missing.  We have a general rule on the account I was working on that the original license file is to be saved in another place before being edited in case we would need it for any reason.  I was able to send VMware all the current and backup license files over to them to review and recreate for me.  The VMware tech was very helpful in reviewing all the current and  past backup files and then fully recreating the license file for me.  Once I received the license file back and uploaded to the License Server all the numbers were adding up perfectly.

So what went wrong?  It seems the License Server prefers using Notepad over WordPad and somewhere along the way part of the license file got corrupted.  So my recommendation going forward is find an editor of choice that can handle all the formats that you will need and stick with it.  It seems the cardinal rule we have used in past does not work best for all files in the VMware Infrastructure.

Even when migrating to VMware vSphere 4, you need to still manage VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 license files until all your hosts are upgraded. Once the upgrade is completed, license file management is a thing of the past.

Steve Beaver (148 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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