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FLEXlm locks down applications

The noted license-enforcement software is now updated for Java and Linux.

Long a mainstay of Unix and Windows license-enforcement software, FLEXlm was recently updated for Java and Linux applications. FLEXlm, from Macrovision, comes as a library you use within your applications. Typically when an application starts, it makes a FLEXlm call to verify that the user is licensed to run the application. This reduces the ability to run applications that users are not entitled to, although runtime-licensing schemes have always been unpopular with users.

It may seem odd to have a commercial toolkit that restricts the number of users who can run an application on Linux, mainstay of the free software movement. But, while Linux is open-source software and available at no cost, not all software for Linux fits this category. Oracle’s database and IBM’s WebSphere application server are just two examples of the many commercial applications for Linux.

FLEXlm supports a large number of licensing models, from demo evaluation licenses to floating concurrent-user licenses to node-locked licenses and much more. Advanced licensing models include capacity-based, pay-per-use and quite a few other options that allow a company a lot of control over who uses their products.

The advanced licensing includes the tricky linger-license use scheme where a user holds on to a concurrent-use license for a short while after finishing the application. If users typically run the licensed application for short periods of time, companies could purchase a small number of concurrent-use licenses. With the linger-license use scheme, each user ends up holding on to the license for an extra time period after finishing the application, which artificially makes the concurrent-use licenses run out. The end result, according to Macrovision documentation, is to force larger companies to purchase more licenses for products that are typically run only for a short period of time in a concurrent number of users licensing model.

With FLEXlm version 9, you can also use a Java version of the library to enforce software licenses within any Java application. Written in 100 percent pure Java, this library runs anywhere you have a Java Runtime Engine 1.2 or higher, which includes Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, QNX, and most other operating system platforms. This is a big win for companies who want a Java-only licensing solution, especially a solution compatible with non-Java applications.

FLEXlm also supports Linux on Intel, supporting both the 32-bit x86 processors and 64-bit Itanium 2 processors. The company claims support for Red Hat Linux only, but should work on most modern versions of Linux.

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