Centralized administration of Live in a multi-user environment (without Sassafras)

  • Live Versions: Live 9.1 and above
  • Operating System: All

Note: if you need help installing Live in a multi-user lab that uses Sassafras, please see this article instead.

What follows below is a very detailed guide for the case of creating a Master Unlock file in order to distribute this file from the centralized computer to all client machines in a multi-user environment.

See our simplified quick start guide to installing and authorizing Live on a multi-user computer without the creation of a Master Unlock file.

1. Installation Guide

1.1 Download

To get started, we recommended installing and authorizing the latest available version of Live 10.

To do so, log in to your User Account and select the Live version and operating system from the drop-down menus.

Note:

On a Mac, Live 10 is only supported on OS X 10.11.6 and above. On Windows devices, Live 10 is only supported on Windows 7 and above.

Additionally, the latest version of Live 9 (9.7.7) is not compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Mac OS X 10.6. The last version supported on those systems is Live 9.1.10. Installers of Live 9.1.10 can be downloaded from the Download Archive.

1.2 Installation

1.2.1 Macintosh

When the Live 10 .dmg has finished downloading, double-click on the file. A mounted disk named 'Ableton Live 10' will appear on your desktop and open automatically.

Mac_Live_10_Installer_.png

Drag the Ableton Live 10 application into your Applications folder, as shown above. Once it is finished copying, unmount the .dmg file by pressing the eject button in the Finder sidebar.

Unmount.png

Once the disk image has been unmounted, you can drag the .dmg file to the trash.

To launch Live 10, open the Applications folder and double-click on the Ableton Live 10 icon. You can also drag the Ableton Live 10 icon to your dock in order to add a shortcut for launching Live.

1.2.2 Windows

Please unpack the downloaded zip file by right-clicking on it.

Live_10_Extract_All.jpg

Choose "Extract All..." from the drop-down menu. Then, launch the Setup.msi file by double-clicking it once the file has been unpacked. The program will guide you through the steps necessary to install Live 10 on your Windows machine.

Once the installation is complete, click on the Windows Start menu where you'll find the Live 10 shortcut. At this point, you can also delete the ableton_live_10.zip folder. 

2. Authorization

2.1 Administrator Authorization

Note: If an unlock file (Unlock.cfg) already exists in the shared location of a client machine, copying the master Unlock.cfg to that machine's administrator user location will not work as expected. If this is the case, please delete the Unlock.cfg from the shared location:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live x.x.x/Unlock/
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live x.x.x\Unlock\
  • Windows XP (for legacy versions): C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live x.x.x\Unlock\).

Note: The x's in the folder paths mentioned above, (i.e Live x.x.x) are placeholders. On your system, the name of this folder will reflect the version of Live you have installed (i.e. Live 10.0.1).

Note: Keep a copy of the master unlock file on a portable storage device, so you can wipe and re-install client machines without having to request more unlocks or repeat the process of unlocking on every single machine.

Now, please follow the instructions found in the link below to authorize Live on your administrator machine.

Online Authorization

If you are having difficulty authorizing Live, please follow this link instead:

Offline Authorization

2.2 Multi-User Authorization

2.2.1 Locate the Unlock.cfg file

  1. First, follow the instructions under section 2.1 to authorize Live on the classroom/lab's administrator machine.
  2. Once Live has been authorized on this administrator machine, close Live.
  3. Now, we'll need to locate the Unlock.cfg file from the administrator's user account (see below for location). This file will be referred to as Master Unlock.
  4. Next, this Master Unlock needs to be moved and authorized across each of the machines sequentially. Here, it is important to start with the first machine and authorize it. At this point, the Unlock file on this first machine will contain both the admin and the first machine's authorization and has now become the new Master Unlock. Move on to the next machine, repeating this process (4.) for every other computer sequentially.
  5. After having repeated this step (4.) for all computers, the final Master Unlock will contain all the authorizations for all computers.
  6. Only now, this final Master Unlock file (taken from the last authorized computer) must be placed into a shared location on each computer so that each user/profile on the machine has reading permissions (see 2.2.2.).

Default location of Unlock.cfg file:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live x.x.x./Unlock/Unlock.cfg
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live x.x.x\Unlock\Unlock.cfg
  • Windows XP (for legacy versions): C:\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Ableton\Live x.x.x\Unlock\Unlock.cfg

Note: The locations above might be hidden by default. This article explains how to access hidden folders on Windows and Mac OS X.

2.2.2 Create the Shared Unlock Folder

Note: 

  • Live writes only to User location and only if there’s nothing in the Shared location. 
  • Live reads from the Shared location only if the related data (including the parent folder) doesn't exist at the User location.
  • Live's Unlock file is read directly from the Shared folder. In contrast, Preferences.cfg, Library.cfg and Options.txt are copied over to the User profile. Intending to change the configuration globally, requires to repeat the steps in this article.

Manually create a shared Unlock folder on every computer in the following location:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live x.x.x/Unlock/
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live x.x.x\Unlock\
  • Windows XP (for legacy versions): C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live x.x.x\Unlock\).

Note: These folders don't exist by default. Instead, they need to be created manually. Additionally, these folders and file names are case sensitive and will not work properly unless typed correctly. Recall that the x's are simply placeholders, please ensure that the folder path you create matches the version of Live currently installed.

2.2.3 Paste the Master Unlock.cfg file into the shared Unlock folder that you created in the step above.

Now, delete the Unlock folder in the default location. 

This process of pasting the final Master Unlock into the Shared location and deleting the Unlock folder in the default location must be repeated for every computer.

 

2.2.4 Shared Preferences and Options.txt

In a single-user setup, Live copies its unlock information to the updated version automatically. Unfortunately, in a multi-user setup, this process needs to be done manually. Therefore, we recommend disabling Live's auto-update feature in a multi-user setup. To do so, please create a plain text file. Then, add the following line "-_DisableAutoUpdates" (without quotes) to the file. Lastly, save this file as "Options.txt" and place it in Live's shared Preferences folder, which you'll need to manually create in the following location:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD:/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live x.x.x/
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live x.x.x\Preferences\
  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live x.x.x\Preferences\

Note: These folders don't exist by default. They need to be created manually, as you did in section 2.2.2. Folders and file names are case sensitive and will not work properly unless typed correctly.

2.2.5 Key-Server and floating licenses

Larger labs will benefit from the integration of a third party key-server solution called Sassafras, which allows for easier license management. Please refer to the following article on how to set up Live with Sassafras.

3. Content

Live's Content Library consists of the Core Library, Ableton Live Packs, and the User Library.

3.1 Core Library

The Core Library is part of Live's installation and is installed in the same location as the program itself, so there's no need to configure it further:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Applications/Ableton Live 10 Suite ->> Right-click “Show Package Contents” ->> Contents/App-Resources/Core Library
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\ProgramData\Ableton\Live 10\Resources\Core Library
  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\[Username]\My Documents\Ableton\Library 

3.2 Ableton Live Packs

Live Packs are quite large and should exist only once on a single machine so that they can be shared by all users on that computer. Packs should not be installed multiple times on each individual user account on the machine, as this would take up a lot of hard drive space.

To install your Ableton Live Packs in a shared location:

• From Live's Preferences > Library tab, set the installation folder for Packs to a shared, non-roaming location on the computer. Then, download and install your Ableton Live Packs.

• Quit Live and make the shared Ableton Live Packs folder read-only, so non-Admin users can't install or uninstall packs.

• Move the file titled Library.cfg (found in the user preferences) to the shared preferences folder (see 2.2.5). This way, information about the Ableton Live Packs you just installed will automatically be available to all users.

3.3 The User Library

User Content is stored in “User folders”, which can be configured by each user. There's one special user folder, the “User Library”, which Live requires. If it is missing, Live will re-create it in the default location:

Mac: Macintosh HD/Users/[username]/Music/Ableton/User Library

Windows: C:\Users\[username]\Documents\Ableton\User Library

Because we previously enabled Factory Packs to be accessible for all users (see 3.2), the Library.cfg is now stored in the shared preferences folder on the administrator's user profile. To ensure that each user has his/her own User Library, the folder path needs to be set up with a wildcard.

Open the Library.cfg file in a plain text editor and look for the <UserLibrary> tag. From here, add the placeholder “%%USERNAME%%” as shown below. Adding this wildcard will enable each user to have their own unique User Library. Otherwise, the User Library gets stored as an absolute path which causes Live to look for the User Library in the administrator's user profile. Creating this wildcard will allow the directory containing user-specific folders to be readable and writable for all users, thus allowing sub-folders for non-admin users to be created:

<UserLibrary>
<LibraryProject>
<ProjectLocation />
<ProjectName Value=”User Library” />
<DisplayName Value=”C:\Users\admin\Documents\Ableton\User Library”/>
<ProjectPath Value=”C:\Users\%%USERNAME%%\Documents\Ableton\” />
</LibraryProject>
</UserLibrary>

If the specified folder doesn't exist yet, it will be created when a user runs Live for the first time. 

4. Cache / Database

Live keeps user-specific information in default locations (see the Appendix), this includes the central Live database, caches, and Live's temporary folder for unsaved recordings. Setting all of these to non-roaming/non-network locations is strongly recommended.

The Live database should never be located in a network location, since this may influence performance drastically, or even lead to database corruption errors.

Therefore, add the following entries to your Options.txt file in the shared preferences (see 2.2.5). While these example entries will work, you can change the file paths to another location if you prefer.

Mac:

-DefaultsBaseFolder=/tmp/AbletonData/%%USERNAME%%/
-DatabaseDirectory=/Users/Shared/Database/%%USERNAME%%/

Windows:

-DefaultsBaseFolder=C:\Users\Public\AbletonData\%%USERNAME%%\
-DatabaseDirectory=C:\Users\Public\Database\%%USERNAME%%\

Note: These folders must be created per user. To achieve this, use the placeholder “%%USERNAME%%”. The directory containing user-specific folders must be readable and writable, otherwise no sub-folders for non-admin users can be created. 

5. Other

5.1 Live as ReWire Device

When you initially launch Live, files are generated so you can use ReWire (a software protocol developed by Propellerhead which allows for remote control and data transfer among DAWs).

Live installs its ReWire files to the following locations:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Propellerhead Software/ReWire/ and
    Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Application Support/Propellerhead Software/ReWire/
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Propellerhead Software\ReWire\

It also installs the files required to encode Propellerhead ReCycle files to the following locations:

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Propellerhead Software/Rex/ and
    Macintosh HD/Users/[Username]/Library/Application Support/Propellerhead Software/Rex/
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Propellerhead Software\Rex\

Both installations require admin rights.

Note: Only the last launched version of Live can be used as a ReWire Device. If you have several versions of Live installed on your system (e.g. Live 8 and 9, or Intro and Suite), the user will be prompted with a dialog requesting an admin password during startup whenever a different version is started. To disable this prompt, add “-DontAskForAdminRights” to the Options.txt in the shared preferences (see 2.2.5).

Note: When launching Live for the first time, the Options.txt above will not suppress administrator permissions requests when Live initially communicates with Max for Live. 

6. Appendix

6.1 Locations

Example of file locations for user “alex” and Live 10.0.1.

Mac OS X

Shared preferences location:

Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live 10.0.1/

User locations:

Macintosh HD/Users/alex/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live 10.0.1/
(Library.cfg, Options.txt, Log.txt)

Macintosh HD/Users/alex/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live Database/
(files.db, files.db-wal, files.db-shm)

Macintosh HD/Users/alex/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live Reports/
(location for event recordings and crash packs)

Macintosh HD/Users/alex/Music/Ableton/Live Recordings/
(default location for ad hoc recordings)

Macintosh HD/Users/alex/Library/Caches/Ableton/Cache/
(default location for the mp3 decoding cache)

Note: In Live 9, the database is stored here:

Macintosh HD/Users/alex/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live 9.7.5/Database/

Windows Vista / Windows 7 / Windows 8 / Windows 10

Shared preferences location:

C:\ProgramData\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 10.0.1\Preferences\
(Library.cfg, Options.txt)

User locations:

C:\Users\alex\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live 10.0.1\Preferences\
(Library.cfg, Options.txt, Log.txt)

C:\Users\alex\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live Reports\
(location for event recordings and crash packs)

C:\Users\alex\AppData\Local\Ableton\
... \Live Database\ (files.db, files.db-wal, files.db-shm)
... \Cache\ (default location for the mp3 decoding cache)

C:\Users\alex\My Documents\Ableton\
... \Live Recordings\ (default location for ad hoc recordings) 

Note: in Live 9, database and cache folder are located here:
C:\Users\alex\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live 9.7.5\Database\
C:\Users\alex\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Cache\

Windows XP 

Shared preferences location:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ableton\CommonConfiguration\Live 9.1.10\Preferences\
(Preferences.cfg, Library.cfg, Log.txt)

User locations:

C:\Documents and Settings\alex\Application Data\Ableton\Live 9.1.10\
... \Preferences\ (Library.cfg, Options.txt)
... \Database\ (files.db)

C:\Documents and Settings\alex\Application Data\Ableton\
...\Live Reports\ (location for event recordings and crash packs)
...\Cache\ (default location for the mp3 decoding cache)

C:\Documents and Settings\alex\My Documents\Ableton\Live Recordings\
(default location for ad hoc recordings)

6.2 Example Options.txt

-DontAskForAdminRights
-_DisableAutoUpdates
-_DisableUsageData 

Mac:

-DefaultsBaseFolder=/tmp/AbletonData/%%USERNAME%%/
-DatabaseDirectory=/Users/Shared/Database/%%USERNAME%%/

Windows:

-DefaultsBaseFolder=C:\Users\Public\AbletonData\%%USERNAME%%\
-DatabaseDirectory=C:\Users\Public\Database\%%USERNAME%%\

Learn more about the Options.txt file for Live.