Adobe Installation and Licensing

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Jun 22, 2012

Imaging CS6-Attack of the Clones

Update for Sep 13, 2012: The steps outlined in this post for imaging are no longer relevant when using the final AAMEE 3.1 release which removes the machine-to-licensing which was introduced with CS6. See the blog post AAMEE 3.1…or why puffer fish is a delicacy for more info.


Invoking any of the Star Wars Prequels is surely starting this blog entry off on the wrong foot. I can practically hear the booing. Come on, Star Wars II- Attack of the Clones had some good parts in it. The whole part on Coruscant with the assassin, Zam Wessell, trying to kill Padmé? And I love the whole part of the film when they are on Kamino where the Kaminoans are making the clones. Admittedly, the movie falls apart once they go to Geonosis.

But back to the clones! Not the clones based off of Jango Fett, but rather the process of cloning a computer for a lab, classroom, event, new system, etc. Also known as imaging and for better or worse ghosting. I honestly don’t know if Ghost (presently a Symantec  product) was named after the process or people have made the application’s name a verb. Whereas “I ghosted that Mac with Disk Utility” is a wrong as “I Shopped that dog’s head onto my cousin’s body.” Little known fact, Ghost is an acronym for General Hardware-Oriented System Transfer. Time to tally up your Nerd Points™ and declare victory if you already knew that acronym AND you knew that Zam Wessell was a Clawdite from Zolan.

In CS6 we introduced a licene-to-machine relationship that breaks many traditional imagining methods whereas a master image is serialized and then cloned. Now the booing is a little more warranted. In fact, imagine the first line of this paragraph read by Jar-Jar Binks to really make your blood boil. Obviously you will want to add “Meesa thinks” at the front. And expect this decision to create this licene-to-machine relationship will be as popular as Jar-Jar. It was actually more of a bi-product of our activation changes and not really a planned assault on IT admins who have to imagine systems. But whatever Adobe Man, the damage is done! Well true, but we do have a workaround of sorts. Is this workaround lame? On a scale from 1-10 with 10 being the worst workaround ever, I’d give it a 6. Maybe a 5 if you are not familiar with AAMEE. Maybe a 4 if you ran into trouble with imaging CS6 on your own and Googled “Adobe broke imaging in CS6” (but with some curse words sprinkled in the search words) and then you had to read through 3 paragraphs before I got onto the workaround steps.

Actually, before I give you workaround steps, for those who want a walkthrough of the process our Systems Engineer, Karl Gibson, has created a video on Adobe TV called “Client Imaging for CS6” which is quite helpful.

Steps for Client Imaging for CS6

1) Use AAMEE 3.0 to create an unserialized CS6 Trial Package

2) Use AAMEE 3.0 to create a Serialization file [Yes, you’ll need to be online and use an Adobe ID for your organization]

3) Install/deploy the AAMEE produced CS6 Trial Package to the master image

4) The installed CS6 software will be in Trial Mode but you could make any changes you wanted including defining preferences [Don’t serialize]

5) Take the master image and clone the image to the systems using your normal method

6) Copy the AAMEE 3.0 produced Serialization files (the executable and the prov.xml file) to the newly cloned systems [Manually, through a deployment method, first run script, etc.]

7) Execute the following command:

AdobeSerialization – -tool=VolumeSerialize – -provfile=Absolute_Path_of_prov.xml

Obviously you would want to verify that the CS6 software is serialized and opens fine without giving notice of the software being in trial mode. So that is theoretically Step 8 except depending on the scale of your imaging you may not want to do that on all the systems once you are comfortable the process is working. And you might also, depending on where you placed the files, remove them. So that could be theoretically Step 9, but obviously I was keen on having just 7 steps.

If you have issues with any of these steps, please use the Enterprise Deployment Forum to let us know. I realize that having to go through these extra steps are a pain but hopefully the Force will be with you. Seemed appropriate, right?

Jody Rodgers | Sr. Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | Digital Media | Adobe

Note: The bulk of this post makes reference to Star Wars which is clearly TM & © 2012 Lucasfilm Ltd. and if Lucasfilm, LucasArts, or Skywalker Sound have ANY issues with imaging CS6 I will personally volunteer to head over there and help you out. After I get my photo taken with Yoda.


UPDATE: We have a new Adobe TV video that will walk you through the imaging steps if you are using Ghost: Client Imaging With Symantec’s Ghost Suite



  • By Anthony Reimer - 8:23 AM on June 24, 2012   Reply

    …and just to be clear, you can’t use InstaDMG with AAMEE packages (neither 2.1 nor 3.0), so if that is your “normal method,” ignore this tip. There is no workaround; you must install Creative Suite post-deploy. My testing using CS5.5 Design Premium is that it is about a 10 minute penalty to do post-deploy over baking it in. YMMV.

  • By Steve Laskevitch - 2:03 PM on June 24, 2012   Reply

    Thanks, Jody, for putting this in one tidy place with only minor (and humorous) digressions. I almost feel like this post was just for me. I mean, well, Blake gets VMWare features he wants, I could get a blog post, right?

    Anyway, meesa thinks you help.


    • By Jody Rodgers - 12:59 PM on June 25, 2012   Reply

      You can haz blog post Steve! BTW, I’d love to check out the Luminous Works facility and setup someday.

      Jody Rodgers | Sr. Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | Digital Media | Adobe

  • By Eric - 1:29 PM on June 25, 2012   Reply

    What happens if after 30 days you need to make a setting change to the master image? Does the app not launch anymore? Would it be better to serialize it then unserialize it right before creating an image then reserialize once its deployed? I dont see what people are fussing about, its easy enough to keep the serialization file as a setupcomplete script for the windows side.

  • […] This is the third video Karl has made for us around CS6. It’s a trilogy. Let us know if you would like us to cover other topics or want Karl to make a prequel. Speaking of prequels, if you need additional guidance on imaging/cloning systems with a CS6 install on them then please check out the previous blog entry “Imaging CS6-Attack of the Clones.” […]

  • By Brian - 3:46 PM on August 11, 2012   Reply

    I am an art professor, not a full time IT admin. I am a user of Adobe software and unfortunately have to install/administer it in my small lab. (40 machines) My most efficient process for deploying CS6 is to just type in the volume license serial # into each machine.(It’s less work that what you have described above.) I have a weekend to get a lab up, not a week to figure out what this is all about or to wade through a 110 page pdf. You expect me to go to the terminal to execute a script…really!? I know this is probably “simple” once you know how to do it, but I don’t have the time to figure it out, I have classes to teach.

    There was a reason many of us moved from QuarkXpress to InDesign nearly a decade ago. It appears Adobe has forgotten its own history. For what it’s worth. I had to make a choice between purchasing Final Cut and Premiere for my lab. This made the decision easy…guess who allows a simple download of the software and entering a serial # only once, and then cloning cleanly to all machines in my lab…just like the good old days…

  • By sean - 11:59 PM on August 12, 2012   Reply

    why isnt there a server license server, which all client talk too…

    • By sean - 5:58 PM on August 14, 2012   Reply

      to add to the pain, i have 400 computers and laptop that needs adobe installed, you cant expect me to do it 400 times ..

      • By Jody Rodgers - 12:44 AM on August 15, 2012   Reply

        Isn’t that against the IT credo? Do you not have any deployment tools in place? How are the systems managed in regards to security and patching then? If you are doing imaging, what is your workflow? Do you not do any first run steps? Please give us more info on your setup so we can make sure you do not do anything 400 times…ever.

        Jody Rodgers | Senior Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | Digital Media | Adobe Systems

        • By sean - 7:57 PM on September 25, 2012   Reply

          We use wds here to create our master wim image and then sysprep and deploy it over wds server most of the time i dont have touch it, everything is done automatically. But reading this it means i have to log on every machine to do the serialization to activate the trial version

          • By Jody Rodgers - 9:17 PM on September 25, 2012  

            Sean, please note that with AAMEE 3.1 the steps with imaging changed dramatically. See note up at the top of this post about AAMEE 3.1. No trial package, no serialization executable needed now!

            Jody Rodgers | Sr. Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | Digital Media | Adobe Systems

  • By Kevin R. - 4:10 PM on August 22, 2012   Reply

    “In CS6 we introduced a licene-to-machine relationship that breaks many traditional imagining methods whereas a master image is serialized and then cloned. Now the booing is a little more warranted”

    You’ve got that right… Adobe has basically disabled the IT world with this update… this is complete unwarranted and ridiculous, those of us in Education who pay Adobes inflated prices just got a huge slap in the face. It is it my choice in the future we will not be using Adobe products due to the difficult implementation.

  • By jennifer - 7:53 PM on August 25, 2012   Reply

    I second the numerous opinions that this is a nightmare. Please, this HAS to go away. In addition to the pain of having to touch each machine once (140 total – a mix of dual-boot mac/windows, and straight windows machines), I use radmind to manage my Macs, and this form of licensing means I have to create a special transcript for each macosx install (80+), in order for it to keep the licensing after logout.

    AdobeCS6 has literally more than tripled the amount of work necessary to get lab machines ready for a new semester. Please, please, please, this licensing method HAS to go away. If I were hourly, I may be less angry right now, but 16+ hour days to do something that I used to be able to do during regular hours is just crazy.

  • By Prometheus - 9:12 AM on August 30, 2012   Reply

    We are now dealing with this at my work. Isn’t it awesome how Adobe treats it’s long time paying customers like criminals?

  • By Paul - 3:20 PM on August 30, 2012   Reply

    Dang, now I imaged my entire lab not knowing this first and now I have hundreds of Macs thinking they are running a trial version 🙁

    I tried running AAMEE Serialization but it wants a Product Installation Folder THAT DOES NOT EXIST!!!

    Now what do I do???

  • By Chad S - 9:48 AM on September 10, 2012   Reply

    I have imaged 400 student laptops using our Site license, and now all of them are having trial mode issues. I did use AAMEE, and the install was stupid. I built my install using AAMEE according to the instructions, and still had a nightmare with the exceptions file. Adobe CS6 is a joke for licensing and installation!

    After reading the entire AAMEE Deployment guide and the README file associate, I have to come to a blog post to get the information about cloning. What does ADOBE think ENTERPRISE customers do? We sure as hell don’t manually activate every client, so this information should be in the ENTERPRISE deployment guide and not a blog post.

    Can I back-charge ADOBE for all the extra work this CS6 activation bull is causing me?

    • By Jody Rodgers - 11:48 AM on September 10, 2012   Reply

      So sorry to hear that you had such a hard time with this. This is why we have worked so hard to eliminate the machine-to-licensing component with AAMEE 3.1. AAMEE 3.1 is available for download now on LWS and Technical resources section of Adobe CS IT site:

      Jody Rodgers | Senior Product Manager | Enterprise + Volume | Digital Media | Adobe Systems

  • By Shane Hale - 11:11 PM on September 16, 2012   Reply

    WOW. I just spent 3 days creating the perfect windows reference machine and I had no Idea that this had changed. Our previous version of CS3.5 cost half as much and was much easier to deploy.

    I am just now finding out that this idiotic deployment scheme exists and now I have to start over with the “Serialzed version” and hope it works.

    Doesn’t a site license imply volume software? As such shouldn’t this serialized version automatically be what I download from the VOLUME LICENSING SITE! And if it isn’t really volume media shouldnt’t there be some kind of popup that says this is not really volume licensing media? Rather than downloading the exact same thing that anyone could download from

    I am extremely frustrated to have to repeat all my work for the item that cost more than everything else – and to have you carry on about Puffer Fish and Star Wars with your sardonic tone is a further disapointment.

    Further – In my opinion, you didnt work hard to make it easier to deploy – you had a last minute “uh-oh” moment and tried to cover your asses… Which would be fine if you never implied that this was volume media.

    And to think I have been begging my front office to update Adobe for 2 years. This kind of money is hard to come by in the education sector – even after discounts. This is a joke and I will never stick my neck out for Adobe products again. In fact I think I may just call my sales rep and demand a refund.

    IT Director, Tuacahn Center for the Arts

  • By Jason - 6:47 PM on February 6, 2013   Reply

    I’ve completed the steps and have a working, serialized machine. I then open any of the CS6 products and am confronted with a prompt to registrar the product with an Adobe ID and password. This is a problem since I built into the Serialization key the registration suppression. I can see that it is in my prove.xml file but it is not working. I’ve tried using some of the suppression samples in the AdobeSerialization.exe file but still a no-go. Any thoughts on how to get the registration to not show for my students?

    • By Jason - 3:20 PM on February 8, 2013   Reply

      More testing reveals that the CS6 install package created with AAMEE 3.1.105 works when installed from the client machine. It will not install if I use ARD or DeployStudio. If I install a trial version then serialize it (using ARD), I still get the Sign In request page when I open any of the Adobe products. I’m soooooo frustrated!!!

  • By Todd - 1:47 PM on April 15, 2013   Reply

    Im in the same boat. University environment. 800+ machines in labs/classrooms. 400 seats in a VDI environment. 0 working installs of CS6 without touching each machine. VDI machines (the virtual clones) cannot be serialized at all according to Adobe tech support and there is no plan for allowing CS6 in virtual environments. This info given to me today 4/15/13 after 5 hours of transfers from dept to dept. Looks like we are going back to 5.5 without the bloatware that is CS6 serialization.

  • By Rob - 1:11 PM on July 9, 2014   Reply

    Will this procedure also work with CC 2014?

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