Adobe CS6 Serialization fun

Recently (starting some time after the first of the year), we’ve started having users call and tell us that their formerly working install of Adobe Photoshop CS6 was now asking for a sign-in:


We could not figure out why this was happening. An uninstall and reinstall of our AAMEE3-generated installation package seemed to get things working. But then the same users would call back the next day with the same issue.

Searching for “is required within 32767 days otherwise it will stop working” brought up a few people with similar issues, but no clear resolution.

I posed the question to some of the folk who hang out on the #osx-server Freenode IRC channel. Sam Keeley had encountered the exact same problem and had a fix.

The problem apparently occurs with CS6 products that have been packaged for distribution using the Adobe Application Manager, Enterprise Edition version 3.0 tool (AAMEE 3.0) that was released shortly after CS6 shipped.

Sam told me Adobe was aware of this problem, and that even though I was seeing it only on a few machines right now, eventually it would spread to all machines that had this CS6 product installed. The fix was to use AAMEE 3.1 to generate a “serialization executable” that can be used to re-serialize in-place installs of CS6 products.

I assume (though have not tested) that an alternative fix would be to create a new installer package using AAMEE 3.1, remove the “broken” CS6 product installed with an AAMEE 3.0 package, then reinstall using the updated installation package.

It’s great that the cause has been identified and a fix is available. But I am a little annoyed that if Adobe knew of this issue, I can’t find any evidence that they tried to communicate it to enterprise administrators.

It would have been nice to have had a heads-up about this issue so I could have addressed it proactively, rather than scrambling to fix it after our users started calling.

Thanks to Sam Keeley for his assistance on this issue.

Adobe CS6 Serialization fun

74 thoughts on “Adobe CS6 Serialization fun

  1. Steve Fair says:

    I don’t know how much more I can stand. Be prepared for their announcement that perpetual licensing will no longer be available, only subscription. It’s looking more and more likely.

  2. Thanks for the post on this. We are still actively trying to identify the root cause of this issue before we provide guidance. I provided advice to Sam to use APTEE to un-serialize and then serialize because clearly this is a licensing issue. (Using the serialization executable mostly has the same effect.) I provided Sam this advice not clearly knowing the root cause but I am glad it fixes it. Ideally, Sam (and you) should have reached out to @Adobe_ITToolkit or better yet the Creative Suite Enterprise Deployment forum as Paul Cossey has:

    I am all for independent blogs and outlets to discuss issues and provide a platform for addressing and sharing problems for the IT community, but I do believe they should be used in tandem with communication on a place where you know you have direct response to a company’s product team.

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

    1. Jody:

      Thanks for the response.

      I’m not yet certain this approach does fix the problem; I’m going on Sam’s advice.

      But we’ve had users seeing this issue for a few days, and now that I’ve posted this, I’m hearing from other people who are seeing it as well.

      When there is an issue that forces me to scramble to get users working again, I’m going to use any and every method at my command. I find unfortunately that official vendor support channels are often far too slow. I had a problem, Sam identified a fix. I shared.


      1. Tim Kimpton says:

        I agree the slowness in response time is not up to speed. I Remember the compromised certificate and 10 calls to Adobe 1st line trying to get through to Karl’s team to explain their fix instructions didn’t work!

        Also Jody be aware your colleagues delete the posts they don’t like in their forums and blogs.

        That why I post things fully outside Of Adobes realm and then keep providing external links even if they get deleted.

        Jody thanks for all your work but the Adobe loathing is comming back. Sorry to say this but I’m getting tired of Adobe messing about with LIVE stuff all the time without UAT!

      2. trak says:

        Seeing as how this is STILL A PROBLEM six months later, with the official Adobe fixes, including using the AAMEE 3.1 package, still producing the same issue, I’d say that “waiting for official vendor support” is a failed suggestion.

        I’ve still got this issue after having originally created the serialization executable with AAMEE 3.1, so it’s not fixed, and I guess Adobe has no idea what’s going on, because none of their fixes work.

  3. Gary says:

    In your post you mention “The fix was to use AAMEE 3.1 to generate a “serialization executable” that can be used to re-serialize in-place installs of CS6 products” and then later you mention uninstalling CS6 items and reinstalling AAMEE 3.1 created CS6 items.

    1) how do you create a serialization executable?
    2) Can you install the AAMEE 3.1 CS6 version over the old version or do we have to uninstall and then install?
    3) If you have to uninstall, is there a way to do this using munki? If so, how?

    1. Questions:
      1) how do you create a serialization executable?

      Using AAMEE 3.1 See its documentation.

      2) Can you install the AAMEE 3.1 CS6 version over the old version or do we have to uninstall and then install?

      Pretty sure you need to uninstall and reinstall.

      3) If you have to uninstall, is there a way to do this using munki? If so, how?

      Munki has managed_uninstalls. It can uninstall Adobe CS6 products that were installed with an AAMEE-generated package. You uninstall a CS6 product the same way you uninstall anything Munki knows how to uninstall.

  4. I was seeing something similar today. Users would launch PS CS6, and it would in turn launch AME, which would “crash” or something, launch photoshop, relaunch AME, rinse, repeat. NO idea what was going on. I build a serialization script/file, then built that into a package in iceberg and it instantly fixes the issue.

    One more instance of me mumbling “I hate adobe” to a classroom of students. =P”

    1. jamauai says:

      That’s exactly what’s happening with my mac labs!!! Can you elaborate on how you fixed it please??

      1. jamauai,

        So, with AAMEE 3,1 you can create a serialization executable. Just give it the serial number, and it’ll pump out a binary, and a .xml file.

        I then opened up Iceberg, and added those files to be installed into /Library/Scripts/. Then under scripts, I added a .sh file under postinstall that looks like:


        /Library/Scripts/SerializeCS6/AdobeSerialization –tool=VolumeSerialize –provfile=/Library/Scripts/SerializeCS6/prov.xml
        rm -R /Library/Scripts/SerializeCS6

        exit 0

        Then built it, and installed on all my lab machines (and added it to my deploystudio workflow for future imaging). Fixes it completely. Even fixes it when there’s the loop going on… once that package installs, the loop stops and Photoshop launches next time it comes around.

        Good luck!

    2. jamauai says:


      It worked for a couple clients but the rest, no success. I think maybe the bash script was incorrect? Not sure I’ll keep trying. Thanks for your help!

      1. Would need to see the bash script, and obviously make sure you’re having the files copied to the right location, etc. I’m having the files created copied to a “SerializeCS6” folder inside /Library/Scripts, then after running that AdobeSerialization app, I’m deleting the directory (don’t want people finding that script and provisioning xml).

        But it’s curious it fixed some, but not others…

    3. jamauai says:

      I copied and pasted the script you posted here. I think I may have done the Iceberg pkg creation part wrong. It was my first time..

      1. Could be. I use Iceberg because I know it… I’m sure someone could easily paste directions for using pkgutil or the like that would be much easier to reproduce. =/

    1. Pretty sure it can affect any CS6 product packaged with AAMEE 3.0, but we should wait for confirmation from Adobe. See Jody Rodgers’ link above.

  5. cashxx says:

    I’m somewhat relieved that at the last minute I made a new image with 10.8.2 and AAMEE 3.1. Hopefully no surprises are around the corner for using that version of AAMEE.

    1. don says:

      I’ve recently had a few CS6 installs packaged with AAMEE 3.1 come unglued and demand registration – the $48k we paid to Adobe for their software notwithstanding.

      I created a PKG that installs the Adobe Serialization binary and XML files into a temp directory and re-serializes as Staze suggests, though I also used the “adobe_prtk” flag.

  6. Steve Fair says:

    I discovered this in our labs this week. I pushed out a script to un-serialize the software, then pushed out a new serialization file built with AAMEE 3.1, finally pushed out a second script to re-serialize with the newly built serialization file.

    It has also been mentioned that one can create a serialized installer using AAMEE 3.1 which no longer requires post install serialization for imaging.

  7. donmontalvo says:


    If you’re scripting, I presume you’re leveraging APTEE? If so, is there really a need for AAMEE (re)serialization package, or can you simply levergae APTEE again to serialize?

    Also, can’t you just push the serial number without needing to unserialize?



    1. Steve Fair says:

      Don, I only use the APTEE command “adobe_prtk” when de-serialization is necessary. In following the instructions sent to me by our Adobe contacts, I assume the de-serialization is necessary to properly re-serialize with different info, but I could be wrong. This is the documentation I reference:

  8. donmontalvo says:


    Thanks, as the number of users effected is growing, this information is quite helpful. Many thanks, ether-beer for you. 🙂

  9. donmontalvo says:

    So Karl Gibson posted a GUI solution using Platypus, so a Mac admin can “wrap” the AAMEE 3.1.x generated script and xml files into a double-clickable application.

    Well…not very enterprise friendly, but it’s sumptin’.

    We should be seeing a PKG wrapper from Greg soon… 😉


  10. staze says:

    I’m not positive, but it SEEMS like the “fix” doesn’t work unless the user is logged in. So mass running it on all the lab computers didn’t fix it for everyone. I’ve had to install the fix a few more times for people when they’ve tried to launch photoshop.

    Has Adobe said anything about what is actually causing this?

    1. donmontalvo says:

      Correct, hence the “Not enterprise friendly” comments. 🙂 Wrap the script and XML file in a PKG installer and push.

      1. staze says:

        which is what I’m doing… the comment wasn’t about the .app wrapper, but about the fix in general. See my responses up higher. =/

  11. We are also seeing this issue recur after using the serialization executable to “re-serialize” the application.
    So we’ve moved to attempted fix #2:

    1) User calls us to report this issue
    2) We remove the CS6 product
    3) We reinstall the CS6 product using a new installation package generated with AAMEE 3.1
    4) We hope the issue does not recur yet again.


    1. staze says:

      wow, okay then. Are you using the AAMEE uninstaller, or are you uninstalling some other way?

      I’m about ready to just roll a loginhook that runs the serializer script at every login…

      1. We use Munki to manage installs and removals; Munki can remove a CS6 product installed with an AAMEE-generated package. It not exactly the same thing as using an AAMEE-generated uninstaller, but it’s functionally very similar.

      2. staze says:

        should have asked whether you use Munki to “install” the uninstall, or just use Munki, but excellent, good to know.

        Sure wish there was something more from Adobe on this.

  12. Post on Adobe’s forums, contact your reps/sales folk, keep up the pressure. Give numbers. “This is affecting 1000 people; 10,000 people, etc” Give costs: “We spent 50 man-hours dealing with this.”

    1. staze says:

      Don’t really have an Adobe Rep… but we have faculty that have friends/contacts there. Maybe we’ll hit them up.

      1. donmontalvo says:

        Greg is right, everyone needs to post to @Adobe_ITTools on Twitter…this will help give Jody/Karl leverage on devoting resources to getting a REAL fix out the door.

  13. Jeff Bernstein says:

    Just to add to the misery, CS6 installs using AAMEE 3.1 also exhibit the same issue. You will find that it will work for a day, maybe 2 or 3, and then hit the wall. The APTEE tool, same thing. It will work for a day or 2 or 3, and then hit the wall.

    As a result, our clients are dead in the water. We have now told them to avoid CS6 at all costs.

    Isn’t this great?

    1. Steve Fair says:

      Oh that’s fscking classic. “Okay students, here’s the serial number, just paste it in when you launch the program.” Give me a break. We pay waaaaaaaaay more for Adobe software than any other package. You’d think there would be some staff who actually used a computer on their development team.

      1. staze says:

        yeah, I thought so too. “Oh, and don’t even think about using that serial number at home… we’ll know”. =/

        I’d have to think Adobe either didn’t forward date test their licensing into 2013… but that doesn’t make any sense since only SOME computers are doing this for us, MOST work just fine. And they all got the same *cough* image *cough*.

        I’m just a bit annoyed there’s absolutely nothing on the Installation and Licensing blog (

        Guess we’ll have to wait until they have a real fix…

      2. Tim Kimpton says:

        or if they dont have a real fix i know our users will just want Quark Instead and they will do everything in that

        bye bye Adobe you Muson

      3. Steve Fair says:

        I forgot to mention how often I discuss this with our Adobe Reps. I have brought this up many times and the response is, “meh”. It’s all about the money. We have to provide the industry standard tools no matter what the cost.

      4. Tim Kimpton says:

        for me no Adobe rep, but have support and licenising 1st line but they just refer me to the Adobe Enterprise forums where some jobs worth deletes the posts they don’t like.

        f***kin brilliant!

        I hope we can find a solution my deadline for CS6 rollout is nearlly up and now i get hit with this!

  14. Svend Poulsen says:

    Adobe released Photoshop 13.0.4 yesterday to solve this problem that should have been introduced with one of the december Photoshop updates. Patch working CS6 installations with this fix.

    A workaround besides uninstall and install is trying to uninstall the whole CS6 installation manually during dock flashing after starting up a Adobe CS6 program and Adobe Application Manager starts flashing. You might succeed activate CS6 again and get an error from the uninstall process that a CS6 program actually is running! Stop the uninstall process than.

    1. staze says:

      Wow, really?! They released a Photoshop update to address an issue that seemingly shows up in the whole suite (I see the issue with InDesign and Illustrator as well).

      K, well, guess I’ll roll an update package and see what that does.

      Maybe Photoshop was the culprit behind nuking the licensing info. that said, this: still doesn’t show an official permanent resolution.

      1. Jeff Bernstein says:

        After installing the Photoshop update, you will need to use the APTEE tool to unserialize and reserialize the software.

      2. staze says:

        Have we heard this from Adobe, or is this just an assumption? We all thought this was fixed just by re-serializing…

        Sorry, not trying to question you here, just trying to figure out if I should put effort into doing this… at this point, I’m going to roll an update package with AAMEE, then maybe re-serialize after that.

      3. staze says:

        Uh, okay. Not entirely helpful, but guess it is what it is. Still not going to hold my breath about this being the fix.

  15. donmontalvo says:

    Adobe is posting updates to @Adobe_ITTools it’s suggested that EVERYONE follow their feed, and post appropriately.

    Please remember Jody/Karl are with us on this…the more they hear from the Mac admin community the more they can leverage more resources to fix this issue…

  16. I started deploying CS6 Design Standard and Master Collection in the middle of May 2012. I packaged using AAMEE and baked the license into the base package. I havent seen this bug in our environment yet. Is it going to happen?

    1. donmontalvo says:

      The @Adobe_ITToolkit feed hints at possible link to Photoshop 13.0.2 patch causing a problem? That didn’t come from Adobe, but it’s the first real feedback we’ve seen on possible root cause…just sayin’.

  17. Jason says:

    I’ve completed the necessary steps with AAMEE 3.1 (Mac) 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. Anyone seeing this same issue with v3.1? Any thoughts on how to get the registration to not show for my students?

    1. Jason says:

      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 page when I open any of the Adobe products. I’m soooooo frustrated!!!

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