Obtaining licenses for old software

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docz
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Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby docz » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:17 am

Hi guys, I recently restored a SGI O2, and I am currently working on building up a SGI Origin 2400.

I purchased Alias Wavefront Studio, PowerAnimator and StudioPaint on eBay. It didn't come with the authorization code, because it was acquired through a bankruptcy auction. I contacted AutoDesk to see if they could help, but they could only help me with a new version of Maya, or providing them with license information for a currently supported product. This thing is 20 years old - so not on the supported product list anymore.

Anyone know of a way to get this thing authorized? I am not asking for pirated versions, or asking people to sell me their license. This is more a general discussion on the feasibility to re-activate old software like this.

I also own a copy of 3ds max 2.5 for Windows NT, that I am no longer able to authorize because it is been made obsolete by AutoDesk.

I think this is a pity. Anyone have any tips on this? Also is there an alternative to Alias that is possible to run on Irix 6.5 ?

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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby Intuition » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:06 pm

Its very difficult. I only look for software on Ebay that contains the serial number with the discs/boxes.

I bought a Max Vray dongle back in 2008 for half price. Chaosgroup said they didn't honor transfers back then. Had to buy a full license after all to get my own dongle but did say I could transfer it to Maya from Max for half price to compensate for my troubles later. I got very lucky on that one.

I have commented on this subject before in terms of Software that is 15-20+ years old in many cases. Surely there is a limitation on the legality somewhere for licensing defunct legacy Software that runs on a defunct legacy Irix OS that is running on defunct legacy computer hardware. Surely there is a limitation at this point of the trouble anyone would go to for getting some financial losses based on "damages" you caused by using Power Animator which hasn't been used regularly for nearing two decades in even late cases.

That being said... I can totally see that Nekochan has all the right to keep this website in the clear.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby docz » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:34 pm

Maybe we could write some of the engineers / developers from the teams who created this software? I am sure there are plenty of legacy titles out there wanting to get out. I love how some other companies have posted there old software, games and designs on places like GitHub and BitBucket. Like you can get the complete source code to Microsoft Basic from back in the day - people have even made papertape readers using Arduinos to read paper tape copies of the original 4k Microsoft Basic. I cannot see that Microsoft looses money or value because enthusiasts do things like this with their old stuff. In fact I think they add value - by keeping this stuff alive.

I did write Newtek to ask for a licensed copy of a runnable old version of Lightwave, as well as one to Adobe.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby def13 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:27 pm

It's a real problematic : having the pleasure to use old software on vintage computer without being outlaw. Now, in our numeric world, it's harder to find software for old computer than restore a 40 years old car ... The copyright is not the problem, because like in music or movie industry, copyrights are transfered from studio to studio after a buyback ; if not, it couldn't be possible to buy a DVD of an old movie on Amazon.
It's kind of a shame for the softwares memories and knowledges, because using old software is really helpful to learn or understand specifics stuffs ...
In fact, copyright's owners of old softwares have got gold in there hands and they don't see it.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby quinn » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:38 pm

def13 wrote:copyrights are transfered from studio to studio after a buyback


Autodesk said "no" :roll:

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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby def13 » Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:22 pm

Autodesk is like Adobe : greedy, and they built their monopolistic statue not because they made good softwares but because they let them easyly and massivly pirated for years and years ...
We aren't a lot to want "playing" with old softwares on old computers, we don't need support, we just want to buy a license to respect copyrights and laws.
And vintage is trendy [^_^!]
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby japes » Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:12 pm

There is no reason for Adobe, Autodesk, whoever to dig up key generators. Or try and find source code for an old piece of software to reverse engineer and reimplement a license generator. They likely don't have the infrastructure available, and certainly they don't want to assign staff to something they won't get value from. Heck, Autodesk probably has fewer SGI machines than any of us have fingers, and more of them are probably in an archive or broken than usable.

Some of the old software could even be lost as mergers and acquisitions have take place and tapes lost or decayed. File shares deleted because no ones knows what this old stuff from 4 companies ago is. and on and on.

Sure, it would be great if when support for a platform is dropped the old product is packaged up for general release, maybe released a couple years after license availability, etc...but business people don't think that way. So urge your vendors to employee librarians and hope for a better future.

At the risk of approaching the limits of the rules here, and maybe someone can figure out a gentle way to approach a software publisher, but maybe our best hope is in equipping a software hacker with an IRIX machine and beer money. As noted, a little video studio producing commercials for youtube and local tv isn't going to build up a badass Tezro with Smoke and Flame with no available support on antique computers, antique OS, etc. So as long as no one is bothering Autodesk I'm sure they could be convinced to not care. The moment they have to deal with it they have to start talking to $2000/day lawyers and $1500/day technical staff and managers and that's why we can't have nice things.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby docz » Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:44 am

I was thinking more along the lines of what other vendors have done. Release the software as open source. That way the community of enthusiast would do the work with their resources, and Autodesk, Adobe and the rest would gain a lot in the form of public relations.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby GIJoe » Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:25 pm

japes wrote:So as long as no one is bothering Autodesk I'm sure they could be convinced to not care. The moment they have to deal with it they have to start talking to $2000/day lawyers and $1500/day technical staff and managers and that's why we can't have nice things.


actually there's this reputation that they indeed ... care. ;) they are kinda famous for their hat squad, having customer offices searched and machines taken away if there's evidence of illegal software use. as long as there's a way to slap somebody with a fine i think they are still game! :lol:
not the only ones either, it has to be said.

as for this old stuff it's probably just that they would have to pay some consultant or other expensive person to have a look at what is in this app from eons ago, if third party licenses are affected and so on. i recall that for example nichimen's mirai came with a lisp interpreter that at some point ten years on simply ran out of license. nobody expected that version of the app to be in use at that point. you'd have to have all this stuff tested before release.

also some of autodesk's old apps like power animator might well still be up and running in a way, just wrapped into another product. auto.... studio or somesuch? and studiopaint sgi -> sketchbook pro if you go by old credit screens. there might still be tech involved that autodesk would not want in the public domain.

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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby foetz » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:07 pm

GIJoe wrote:some of autodesk's old apps like power animator might well still be up and running in a way, just wrapped into another product. auto.... studio or somesuch?

indeed: https://www.autodesk.com/products/alias ... s/overview

but keep in mind, after 9.7 they stripped off all polygon related stuff as well as all remainders of the entertainment related products such as particles. however, the remaining product has gotten remarkably little changes over time so if you wanna taste the alias feeling a recent version still does a fine job in that regard.

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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby Intuition » Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:35 pm

Found a bunch more stuff on the 300mhz o2 I bought from Ebay in 2009.

There was a little "BU" folder in the people directory. It has a whole slew of stuff.

I did have Softimage and Maya 6.5 already

So I tried installing the maya 1.0 and maya 5 in the backup folder. They have awdist folders that I assume correspond with the type of Irix I am running.

So I dragged the maya5 from awdist into the little icon in Software manager and pressed the look up. Then it said ready.. and I pressed go. It successfully installed. Same with Maya 1.0 and even had a 1.5 in there.

They installed correctly. BUT.. of course... they aren't licensed and complain when I try to start them. BUT... digging around more I found a licenses backup file... they are copies of the awdat files with a little note that says "these are tied to this o2 and copied here for back up".

So I copy/pasted the entries into the aw.dat in the /var/flexlm folder after making a backup of the original... and... bam.. Maya 1.0. Maya 1.5 and Maya 5 now run on my o2.

They have the same host ID already there in the text so I assume they were installed at some point and maybe removed for hard drive space... or maybe before the hd was a bigger version? I don't know.

But.. They run. Yay for snooping around on an old SGI. So many SGI have their HD removed. I wonder how much stuff still lives on old drives sitting around?
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby Shiunbird » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:55 am

Time to image that hard drive out somewhere.

I always try to stay legal, as a matter of principle. I'm a musician and I just hated to have my work taken away for free. I try to cut middlemen and myself and my groups do only direct sales. I have less sympathy for giant software behemoths, but the principle stays. I'm on late PPC Macs for my useful work, so I can still find software around.

That said, if they are not cooperative, I regard what we do here as art. Vintage computing is art. And art should not die. I wonder what it would take for someone very skilled to be able to reverse engineer the license authorization system for your software.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby jan-jaap » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:01 am

Shiunbird wrote:I wonder what it would take for someone very skilled to be able to reverse engineer the license authorization system for your software.

The A|W software? That's a pretty 'soft' target. Read some of Fravia's pages on woodmann.com, especially SiuL+Hacky's text about FLEXlm and Linux. The toughest bit might be to find an old FLEXlm SDK, but breaking '90s FLEXlm already wasn't terribly hard back then already. And yes, keygens and HOST=ANY licenses are out there (or at least used to be in the USENET archives). Same principles apply to Adobe software, SoftWindows, and everything from SGI themselves (MIPSpro, XLV, Performer, ...).

NETls was a tougher cookie, mostly because there's no resource like Fravia so you have to reverse everything yourself. And you had to write keygens from scratch, because I myself have never seen an SDK for it 'out there'.

I could write up a tutorial but I don't think this is the place to host it. ;) Also, I don't know if Autodesk still uses the same seed values for their current products. In that case, posting them online might invoke the wrath of their legal dept.
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby Shiunbird » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:30 am

jan-jaap wrote:The toughest bit might be to find an old FLEXlm SDK, but breaking '90s FLEXlm already wasn't terribly hard back then already.


Aha! Many years ago, back in my home country (where a license of Maya would cost 10x the minimum wage), I worked at a place that used cracked copies of it and I remember installing flexlm patches in two workstations. Memories...
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Re: Obtaining licenses for old software

Unread postby jan-jaap » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:32 am

Shiunbird wrote:I remember installing flexlm patches in two workstations.

While it's possible to patch license checking code out of software, for older versions of FLEXlm it's possible to extract everything you need to build a keygen from the target. The license entries generated with such a keygen allow you to run the unmodified software, and are indistinguishable from a genuine license unless the one who generated it inserts some vanity text, e.g. "Hax Force, Inc.".

Later versions of FLEXlm (iirc v7.2) introduced elliptic curve cryptography. In this case, the software contains one half of the key pair, and the keygen the other half. Even though key lengths are limited (48 ... 128 bits), it is not practical to brute force them. Instead, people resort to generating a new key pair, and patching their own key into the executable. This way it's still possible to keygen the modified binary. There aren't many applications using ECC crypto on IRIX.
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