Adobe Installation and Licensing

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Oct 11, 2010

Adobe Provisioning Toolkit Enterprise Edition

Tanvi Dharmarha and Sanjeev Biswas are engineers from the CS Provisioning team, providing the licensing and activation solution for Adobe Creative Suite 5 and other Adobe products.

In the enterprise world, a license is owned by a single person or company, and the license grants to that person or company the permission to install and use a product on multiple computers. The number of computers allowed is specified as part of the license agreement. In this context, a 24 digit number generated by Adobe used as a key for serialization is called a volume serial number. To silently serialize the product installed on multiple computers with this volume serial number is called Volume Provisioning.

Currently there is no convenient way to provision all apps silently. In addition, it is challenging to handle field deployment issues related to volume provisioning; such as serializing (or re‐serializing) an already installed product.

To address this need we created APTEE (Adobe Provisioning Toolkit Enterprise Edition), a command line utility that can silently provision apps on multiple computers by execution of a single command. APTEE is a single executable which operates silently so that it is easily deployed with enterprise tools. APTEE can serialize apps by executing a single command.

Serialize and Unserialize

Suppose a company has a license agreement for 200 Photoshop users, 200 InDesign users, 200 Illustrator users and 200 who use multiple Design Suite Premium products. It may be much more cost effective to install a single package containing the Design Suite Premium products on all 800 machines; but, it is not acceptable to use 800 Design Suite Premium licenses when the license agreement stipulates only 200. APTEE provides a solution that allows the customer to deploy with Suite media but serialize only specific products.

  • Serializing a single product installed via suite: An enterprise administrator can package only Photoshop using DesignPremium media and install Photoshop on all user machines in trial. She can then serialize only Photoshop by providing the Photoshop serial number. She does not have to purchase the DP Suite Serial Number.


adobe_prtk.exe ‐‐tool=ReplaceSN ‐‐serialize=Photoshop‐CS5‐Win‐GM ‐‐serial=

  • Cross Suite Serialization: An enterprise administrator can install all applications of MasterCollection using MasterCollection media and purchase the license of a cheaper suite, say DesignPremium. The administrator can then serialize using the DesignPremium serial number.


adobe_ prtk.exe ‐‐tool=ReplaceSN ‐‐serialize=DesignSuitePremium‐CS5‐Win‐GM ‐‐serial=

  • Custom Serialization: In the case of customized application deployment, the administrator can package Master Collection media by specifying only some apps like Photoshop and AfterEffects. The administrator can specify a Master Collection serial number to install protected content. After installation, the administrator can unserialize first to remove the Master Collection serialization and then serialize to add PhotoShop and AfterEffects serial numbers separately.


adobe_ prtk.exe ‐‐tool=ReplaceSN ‐‐serialize=MasterCollection‐CS5‐Win‐GM ‐‐serial=
adobe_ prtk.exe ‐‐tool=ReplaceSN ‐‐unserialize= MasterCollection‐CS5‐Win‐GM adobe_prtk.exe ‐‐tool=ReplaceSN ‐-serialize=Photoshop‐CS5‐Win‐GM ‐‐serial=
adobe_prtk ‐‐tool=ReplaceSN ‐‐serialize=AfterEffects‐CS5‐Win‐GM ‐‐serial=

Reserialize and MakeReplacementSN

APTEE also provides a solution for reserializing apps. First a pseudo-serial number is created by encrypting the old and new serial numbers. The pseudo-serial number is then used with the ReplaceSN option to replace an existing serial number. The special pseudo-serial number is only usable on a machine that has already been serialized with the old serial number. Thus there is no concern about the new serial number getting into the wild.

As an example, let’s say an enterprise has 200 machines. Out of those 200 machines, 100 users have Photoshop installed and serialized with a Photoshop Extended serial number. The administrator can reserialize those 100 machines with Photoshop Standard serial number in a simple way without having to worry about remaining machines that were not serialized with Photoshop Extended.


adobe_prtk.exe –tool=MakeReplacementSN ‐‐old=PS Extended SN ‐‐new=PS Standard SN


pseudo-serial number

adobe_prtk.exe –tool=ReplaceSN ‐‐reserialize=product LEID ‐‐replacement=pseudo-serial number

Inventory Tool

Customers currently have no easy, accurate, scalable way to track the actual status of licenses deployed to machines without purchasing third party Software Asset Management tools. The resulting uncertainty in license usage is undesirable for customers and Adobe. APTEE provides a way to read the pcd files and return an XML block containing the complete inventory of a given machine. This is useful for enterprises trying to automate license audits as it helps determine how many licenses are deployed and in use.


adobe_prtk.exe –tool=InventorySN



  • By Kai - 4:26 PM on October 11, 2010   Reply

    This looks like a great idea, however I’ve found that building installers with AAMEE to, for instance, install just Photoshop but use the media for Design Premium, will leave behind other application stubs in the /Applications directory on Mac OS X.

    I love that this tool can inventory a machine and read the serial numbers back, that’s awesome. I wish more app vendors had tools that did this.

  • By Don Montalvo - 8:23 AM on November 4, 2010   Reply

    APTEE works great. We found that putting it in /usr/sbin (as opposed to our preferred /usr/local/sbin) directory works fine since it’s in the default $PATH for Mac OS X. The serialize/unserialize/re-serialize commands can be sent using SSH, even Casper policy.



    • By Lee Ramsay - 11:37 PM on October 5, 2011   Reply

      How much did adobe pay you to post this?

  • By Gil Burns - 2:33 PM on December 15, 2010   Reply

    The “–tool=InventorySN” option does not seem to be implemented yet on either platform. Is this a forthcoming option?

  • By Shane - 5:21 AM on December 16, 2010   Reply

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to write a floating license server and be done with it? Then I could install Photoshop on all computers in the organisation safe in the knowledge that only the correct number of licenses are ever being used at any one time.

    While you’re at it you could also port Photoshop to Linux and my life would be a happy one. 🙂

  • By Bill Lawrence - 12:25 AM on December 29, 2010   Reply

    It would be VERY useful if the “–tool=InventorySN” option actually worked.

  • By Tim Sutton - 9:40 AM on March 2, 2011   Reply

    It *would* be very useful if the Inventory option was even implemented. Not only does it not work and is not in the usage notes, there’s no such notion of ‘inventory’ anywhere in the strings of the binary.

    I do appreciate the fact that Adobe is listening to enterprise users and is after years actually making some tools available. However, the fact that this tool has been posted, an embarrassing omission pointed out by two people and with no response after over two months, is not so encouraging.

    • By MattL - 3:45 AM on January 10, 2012   Reply

      Make that ‘with no response for over a year’.

  • By Lee Ramsay - 11:43 PM on October 5, 2011   Reply

    Agree with Tim, Bill and Gil. –tool is not even a valid option in the adobe provisioning tool for mac OSX. I have no way to unserialise products for testing or adhering to license restrictions.

    I’m able to serialise acrobat via hints provided in various documentation, and I figured out the path to the cs5.5 suite amt directory myself (which is /Library/Application\ Support/Adobe/Adobe\ Creative\ Suite\ 5.5\ Master\ Collection/AMT/). This still does not address the “licensing is broken after running acrobat” issue, or the fact that I’m unable to unserialise, or even check “status” of license, which would enable me to script a work around.

    I also appreciate you’re trying, but come on. Do you guys (Adobe) even attempt to create a distribution package and deploy it for people as proof of concept? How about multiple user account machines, or people without admin rights?

    I have. I’ve wasted 100’s of hours since the inception of the creative suites cleaning up your dodgy work. I need you to address your issues, and give us a creative suite that works.

  • By MattL - 3:44 AM on January 10, 2012   Reply

    As others have pointed out, the ‘InventorySN’ option does not actually appear to be implemented!

    Using v2.2.0.12 of adobe_prtk on Win7

  • By Kenneth Madsen - 4:06 AM on January 11, 2012   Reply

    Fingers crossed for a solution to InventorySN in 2012.
    Hopefully first quarter of 2012. Hopefully before the end of January.

  • By Phylum - 4:16 PM on October 13, 2014   Reply

    Can you post an example of how to suppress the EULA (the Adobe Software License Agreement) for Acrobat Pro X?

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