Troubleshoot Licensing

This topic includes instructions for troubleshooting issues related to Tableau Server licensing.

Product key failure with forward proxy servers

If the computer where you are running Tableau Server has been configured to connect to the internet through a forward proxy, follow the procedure in the topic, Configure Product Key Operations with Forward Proxy, before attempting to activate, refresh or deactivate product keys.

Handle an unlicensed server

Tableau offers two licensing models: role-based and core-based. To learn more about role-based and core-based licensing, see Licensing Overview.

role-based licensing requires each active user account to be covered by a licence. role-based licences have a defined capacity, or number of users that they allow. Each user is assigned a unique user name on the server and is required to identify themselves when connecting to the server.

Core-based licensing has no constraints on the number of user accounts in the system, but it does restrict the maximum number of processor cores that Tableau Server can use. You can install Tableau Server on one or more machines to create a cluster, with the restriction that the total number of cores in all the machines does not exceed the number of cores you have licensed and that all of the cores on a particular machine are covered by the licence.

Unlicensed role-based server

The most common reason for a server that has role-based licensing to be unlicensed is an expired product key or an expired maintenance contract.

Unlicensed core-based server

A core-based server can become unlicensed for a variety of reasons, such as an expired product key or when Tableau Server nodes running licensed processes cannot contact the Tableau Server node running the Licence Manager service. To learn more about licensed processes, see Tableau Server Processes.

When the server is unlicensed you may not be able to start or administer the server. You can, however, manage your licences using the tsm licences command.

Unlicensed server administrator

All Tableau Server administrators require a user licence. Tableau Server administrators will always consume the highest role available. If a Creator product key is activated, the Tableau Server Administrator(s) will take this role. If the highest role available on Tableau Server is an Explorer, the Server Administrator will take the Explorer role. If Creator licences are added to the server, any existing Server Administrator accounts using Explorer licences will automatically convert to use Creator licences.

TSM administrator accounts do not require licences.

If the licence that the server administrator is using expires, then the account will become unlicensed and will be unable to sign in.

Verify the expiration date of your licence(s) for the administrators on the server:

If the TSM date matches the portal date and the following refresh operation fails, contact Tableau Support(Link opens in a new window).

If the licence for your administrator account has expired or will expire soon, you will need to activate a new licence for the account. Alternatively, you can unlicense a non-administrator user to free a licence for the server administrator account.

If a Tableau Server administrator is using a Creator, Explorer or Viewer licence and their licence expires, they will use another licence of the same type, if available. If no licence seats are available the user will become “unlicensed”.

Important: Do not restart Tableau Server until you have activated a new licence or transferred a site role for the server administrator account.

Troubleshoot role-based licensing

This section provides information about resolving issues that can occur when adding the role-based Viewer, Explorer and Creator licences to Tableau Server or Tableau Online, or when these licences expire. The highest available licence type is Creator, followed by Explorer, and finally Viewer. To learn more about role-based licensing, see Licensing Overview.

A user or administrator is unlicensed due to licence expiry

To avoid having users unexpectedly become unlicensed or move to another site role, you should always do one of the following before the licence that they are currently using expires:

  • Renew and activate a replacement licence. If a user occupies a Creator, Explorer or viewer licence and their licence expires, they will use another licence of the same type, if available.
  • Change the site role of those users to allow the use of a licence that is not due to expire.

To learn how site roles can be changed to require a different licence, see Set Users’ Site Roles.

The reassignment of users to new licences is governed by the following logic:

  • When a Server Administrator user occupies a Creator licence and their licence expires (with no replacement licences available), they are reassigned to an Explorer licence if any Explorer licences are available. This licence reassignment occurs in order of most recent login. Server Administrators displace other users who might be currently using an Explorer licence. If no Creator or Explorer licences are available a Server Administrator becomes unlicensed.
  • When a non-Server Administrator user occupies a Creator licence and their licence expires (with no replacement licences available), they become unlicensed. To avoid having these users become unlicensed, change their site role before the licence expires. This is especially important for users in the Site Administrator Creator site role, who must move to the Site Administrator Explorer site role before their Creator licence expires to avoid losing Site Administrator capabilities.
  • When a non-Server Administrator user occupies an Explorer or Viewer licence and their licence expires (with no replacement licences available), they are upgraded to a higher licence type, if licences of that type are available. Specifically, the following occurs when a licence expires:
    • Users who occupy an Explorer licence will move to a Creator licence, if available (with no change to site role).
    • Users who occupy a Viewer licence will move to an Explorer licence, if available. If no Explorer licences are available, these users will move to a Creator licence, if available (with no change to site role).
    • If no licences are available at the higher licence types, those users are moved to Unlicensed.

Users are reassigned to a new licence as described above in order of most recent login, with lower licence types reassigned first (first Viewer, then Explorer, and then Creator).

For example: Two users with a Viewer licence, a user with the Creator licence, and two Server Administrators with a Creator licence all have their licences expire. Four unexpired Explorer licences are available for these users. In this situation, the following occurs in the order shown below:

  1. The user with a Viewer licence who logged in most recently is reassigned to an Explorer licence.
  2. The second user with a Viewer licence is reassigned to an Explorer licence.
  3. The Server Administrator user with a Creator licence who logged in most recently is reassigned to an Explorer licence, and then the second Server Administrator with a Creator licence is reassigned to the remaining Explorer licence.
  4. The user with the Creator licence becomes unlicensed.

Server Administrator site role is unchanged when using a Creator licence

Server Administrators gain Creator capabilities if Creator licences are available in Tableau Server, with no change to their site role name. All other Tableau Server and Tableau Online users gain Creator licences only if assigned to a site role that includes Creator in its name.

Licences are not immediately available

When you add a role-based licence to Tableau Server, those licences become available to all users when you restart Tableau Server.

A user with a Viewer licence cannot open Tableau Server or Tableau Online workbooks from Tableau Desktop

A user with a Viewer licence who also has a separate Tableau Desktop licence will be unable to open workbooks on Tableau Server or Tableau Online using Tableau Desktop. To open workbooks such using Tableau Desktop, that user will need an Explorer or Creator licence on Tableau Server or Tableau Online.

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