A significant licensing bug has caused certain installs of CS6 software on Mac systems to begin prompting the Trial screen indicating that the software is no longer licensed but is now in Trial mode. Normally the trial period is for 30 days. But in this case, it states that the trial period is 32,767 days. Just a bit over 89 years. So imagine it is 2102. Your kids and grandkids have long since moved to Mars, but apparently you, the IT admin are still stuck on Earth dealing with the Adobe’s CS6 licensing issues! I joke. Why? Because this is particularly egregious and has been very disruptive for many production environments, school labs, etc. And we have been particularly slow to respond to this issue. I am not saying this as self criticism but rather as a simple fact.
Do we have a fix? Let me jump to the chase (for once) and then explain the root of the cause and explain why our response to this has been sloth-like.
How to resolve the 32767 Days Left licensing issue:
1) Apply the Mac Photoshop 13.0.4 update patch
2) Use AAMEE 3.1 to create a serialization file
3) Run serialization file on affected systems
Details on #1: Photoshop 13.0.4 is available via the Mac version of AAMEE 3.1 in the Update workflow. It can also be applied manually if updates are enabled. The Remote Update Manager (RUM) is also available to apply the updates on the system. The specific command line for this would be:
Details on #2 & #3: Adobe Provisioning Toolkit Enterprise Edition (APTEE) is the command line serialization tool that is included in the AAMEE 3.1 install. It is covered in detail on Chapter 9 of the Enterprise Deployment Guide.
Now, why did this happen and if it hasn’t happened to you why not? The pattern we have seen appears to point at the Photoshop 13.0.2 and 13.0.3 updates as they had impacts to the licensing database. This update caused a synchronization call to the serial entry that would basically cause that entry to become unusable. Therefore the product that had been licensed would switch to becoming trial. Except of course a trial time period is 30 days and these installs would of been past 30 days so it displays that ridiculous 32,767 message.
We initially provided guidance on the Enterprise Deployment forum to use APTEE to un-serialize and then serialize and this resolved the issue for some folks. Same for the suggestion that came up to just use the serialization executable workflow in AAMEE 3.1. But, of course this wasn’t a proper fix because the same synchronization call would occur and then break things. Again. Ugh.
So, what was needed was the Photoshop 13.0.4 update that came out this week to stop breaking things. Then use APTEE to un-serialize. Bam, clean slate. Then use APTEE to serialize. Why not use the serialization executable workflow in AAMEE 3.1? Good question. The guidance from our Engineering Director I got was to stick with the APTEE step of un-serialization. Easier/cleaner to write to a file/entry that wasn’t there vs. one that is and might have been corrupt. Makes sense.
Why weren’t we able to diagnose and provide better guidance in a proper manner is two-fold. We are dealing with licensing that is time and actual product usage based. One would be unable to take the exact same AAMEE produced package with the same volume serial number and reproduce the issue after an install. Trust me, we tried. No, the licensing mechanism we have created is now like a ninja. One that we trained. Then we told it to go out in the woods at night and not be seen by us. Then we had to go out there in the woods to find him. Guess what? Totally hard. I am not sure if that metaphor works but I really like the imagery of a ninja hiding in the woods laughing (silently of course) at me.
In addition we did not want to announce a fix widespread until we had actual validation from customers that this was working. Once again, not a fix that they could validate instantly with any confidence that it had “stuck.”
We have learned a lot from this whole thing and need to do a lot internally to make sure this doesn’t happen with another product update…ever! In the meantime, you are owed an apology for the impact this had on your organizations. We understand that these types of issues are not simply things that make Adobe look back, but if you are an IT admin who manages a lab and the lab stops working the precipitation is that it is your fault. I know this first hand. Many moons ago I managed labs at a college and then when I first came to Adobe ten years ago I maintained Adobe’s training classrooms. I know what it is like to see a classroom of frustrated students and worse an angry instructor rolling their eyes at me or even yelling at me. Not pretty.
I also want to thank the members of the IT community that helped on this by reaching out to us with detailed info of the issue, providing logs, helping us test and validate, etc. Special shout out to the Enterprise Deployment forum posts. This forum has a large visibility internally and issues that get many reports here turn into data that is seen by our executives on a real-time basis. I also want to thank those who reported the scale of the impact to your Adobe Account Executive or your Channel Reseller partner. It is important that you be heard through all these outlets and that we understand the inconvenience and pain this has caused you and your organization.
Jody Rodgers | Sr. Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | Digital Media | Adobe Systems
Update 1: Please note that if you have systems that have not seen these issues then our recommendation is to simply make sure that you update the Photoshop 13.0.4. No need to unserialize and re-serialize if the PS 13.0.2 or 13.0.3 updates were not on the system. If you have an AAMEE 3.1 package with the PS 13.0.2 or 13.0.3 in it be sure to update the package to include 13.0.4.
Update 2: This entry was changed to clarify that that 13.0.4 is for Mac systems only.
Update 3: For clarity instructions to resolve have been updated. No longer require un-serialize & reserialize. AAMEE 3.1 serialization file takes care of both.