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Application Launcher Software Metering

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Steven Wootton

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Posted: 15 Sep 1999
 

Novell's Application Launcher provides an easy, effective way to meter and track software license use. This article will cover the following topics.

Installing Metering as part of the ZENworks 2.0 install

Making sure all NLS components are installed and working in your network environment

Creating the License Container and License Certificate

Associating your Application Objects to the License Container

Tracking license use and license statistics

Introduction

Any Windows or NetWare application can become NLS-enabled. When you make an application NLS-enabled, the application will act as a consumer to the NLS provider who provides unit licenses. If no licenses are available it is up to the application to deny the user access. Although Novell provides NLS SDK APIs to make applications NLS aware, it requires substantial time and developer resources to make an application NLS-enabled. Many administrators need a way to track user-license use, even though they cannot require all the application vendors to make their applications NLS-enabled.

NAL (Novell Application Launcher) essentially wraps any Windows application, making it become NLS aware. NAL controls the distribution and launching of any Windows Application, therefore all controlled apps must pass through NAL's NLS implementation. NAL gives the administrator the ability to meter any Window's application without having to get the Application vender to make the application specifically NLS-enabled. Metering has not changed between ZENworks 1.1 and ZENworks 2.0, so this information will apply to users of both versions.

Installing Metering

Software metering is one of the components of NAL that is not available in the free trial version. Metering only comes with the full retail version of ZENworks 1.1 or ZENworks 2.0. Simply select the Metering option as you install ZENworks. To install Metering to an existing ZENworks environment, simply rerun the install and select only the Metering option. The ZENworks install will extend the NDS schema to allow for License Containers and Certificates, and to allow Application objects to handle NLS. The install will also add the appropriate snapins to NWAdmin on the server you select.

Installing NLS Components

NLS relies on the NLSLSP.NLM that should be loaded at all times on your NetWare server. This NLM provides the actual licenses that are setup through NWAdmin to control NAL or any other NLS-enabled application. This NLM is installed on 4.11 servers as part of Service Pack 6. This NLM is part of NetWare 5.0's core files.

The additional snapin DLL is called appsnpex32.dll. It will be placed in the server's snapins subdirectory for nwadmin32.exe. This DLL is responsible for making the metering page appear on all NAL application objects. The snapin also allows NWAdmin to add License Containers and License Certificates to Directory Services.

Additionally NWAdmin requires appresex.dll, which contains the language-specific message strings in order to run. This file should be located under the NLS\<language> subdirectory. If the metering feature is not available in NWADMIN32.EXE then NWAdmin could not find the appsnpex.dll or appresex.dll files. Currently this snapin will only work with the nwadmin32 version of NWAdmin.

Creating License Containers and Certificates

After NLS has been properly installed you should be able to create both License Containers and Certificates through Nwadmn32.exe. Follow these steps to create an NLS container.

  1. License Container Placement

    Start NWADMN32.EXE and navigate to the container you wish to install the License Container in. Make sure you select the OU object or some non-OU object in the container. Usually this will be the same container where your Application Objects are stored. If you want multiple applications to share licenses with other Application Objects stored in a sibling container, then move the License Container up to a parent container. (This is simply to make your tree better organized. NAL allows any Application Object to point to any License container stored anywhere in the same tree.)

  2. License Container/Certificate Options
  3. Now go to the Main drop-down menu and select Tools->Install License. This should pop up three submenu items,

    • Install License Certificates
    • Create Metered Certificate
    • Install Envelope

    Use the first option, Install License Certificates, to install a License given to you by the vendor of the application. This may be used, for example, when you buy NetWare 5.0 and need to install a License certificate. The administrator cannot create these types of Licenses. They are only provided from an application vendor.

    Use the second option, Create Metered Certificate, to create your own licenses. You can use this option when the application is not NLS-enabled but you wish to track and limit the number of users who can simultaneously use the application.

    The last option, Install Envelope, is seldom used. It is used to install multiple license certificates received from the vendor of an application.

  4. Create License Container/Certificate
  5. Most administrators currently use the second option, Create Metered Certificate, to create their own license container/certificate. Once this option is selected, the administrator will get a pop up dialog box that asks for the necessary information to setup the certificate. Simply select the Help button in the lower right-hand corner to get information on how to fill out the form.

    The publisher, product and version text boxes tell the application launcher how to identify the license container. These values can be anything the administrator would like to enter. They simply provide a method of identifying the unique license container.

    To create an additional license certificate in the same license container, simply fill out the publisher, product name, and version the same as you did with the original license certificate. Once you add a new certificate, the container's license unit count will be incremented by the number of licenses you added to your new certificate. Please note that you will not be able to go back and modify the unit count or grace login count after the license certificate has been created. You will need to create a new certificate to add more licenses.

    The Allow Grace Licenses option provides the administrator additional flexibility. Use this option to provide your users a buffer of licenses so that they will still be able to use the application during the time it takes you to purchase new licenses. This also protects the application vendor to a degree, making sure their application licenses are being tracked. This option is left up to the administrator to implement. Some application vendors may have stricter licensing agreements that do not allow for any grace units.

    You will also notice an Update Interval option, which is the time between intervals when the license certificates check with the license provider (nlslsp.nlm) to see if any new licenses have been consumed or released. The last box Multiple launches at a workstation use just 1 license is very important to use with ZENworks 2.0, since in that version of ZEN the workstation itself can launch applications without any user intervention.

    Important: If the box is not checked, and both the user and the workstation launch the same application, then two licenses will be consumed.

  6. Refreshing NWAdmin to view the License Container
  7. Once your License Container is created you may not see it show up immediately in the selected container. Simply collapse then re-expand the container to see the newly created License Container. To see the new certificate(s), double-click on the license container.


Associate your Application object to the license certificate

Now that you have at least one License Container/Certificate created, you can now associate one or more applications to the license container. The following steps will describe this process.

  1. Open Software Metering
  • Right-click on the application object you wish to meter, and select Details.
  • Locate and select the page button called Software Metering. (If you don't see this button, it means that NWAdmin can't find the additional appsnpex.dll that comes only with the retail version of ZENworks 1.0 or 2.0.)
  1. Associate the Application Object
  2. You should now see a fairly simple dialog box with three controls.

    • Select the first checkbox, Use Novell Licensing and Metering for this application, to turn on metering for the application.
    • Select the License Container you set up in the previous section or any other license container.

    Once the Container is selected, your application is now associated to the license container and therefore to all the license certificates found in the container. Now when any user launches this application, the license unit count will be decremented. When the user closes the application, the unit count will be incremented. When all units have been consumed any additional user will receive a dialog informing them that no license units are available and advising them to contact their administrator.

    Please note that more than one application can be associated to the same license container. The final check box determines what to do when the nlslsp.nlm is not loaded on the server. If it's checked, no user will be able to launch the application if NLS is not available. The user will instead get a message indicating that NLS is not available.



Tracking license use and license statistics

Once your License containers and certificates are setup properly and associated to an application object, you track license units consumed and available. You can view license statistics by selecting the Details page of the license container.

You will see two pages: General and Users.

  • Go to the General page to see total number of licenses, Licenses in Use, etc. This page is very useful as a preemptive tool to get more licenses before your users run out.
  • Use the Users page to see which users are currently consuming license units. You will get additional pages on your individual license certificates providing additional information, including Server Assignments, which allows you to allocate NLS licenses from only one server instead of the default, multiple servers.(See the online Help for additional details.)

Additionally you will see a Policy Information page, which will provide you with details about the license certificate. NLS provides additional console applications that can provide more detailed license certificates.





Summary

Software Metering is one of the most useful and beloved features of ZENworks. It takes a lot of the headache out of managing the license usage of applications across an organization, and helps you keep your shop legal. If you follow these steps carefully, you should find it quick and painless to set up. If you follow them and it still won't work, drop us a line and we'll ping Steve for more details.

About the Author

Steven Wootton has been a software engineer at Novell for three years in both the developer services and ZEN groups. Steven graduated with a master's degree in Accounting/Information services from Brigham Young University in 93. He currently specializes in the Explorer and Reporting portions of the Application Launcher.


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