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0 votes
asked by (14 points)
Ugh, I just wrote a nice, full detailed report, but the web app to enter the report is broken and a misplaced backspace does a page-back adn then page-forward deletes all the text I just entered. So .. this will be much more terse and less flowery than my last attempt:

Platform: 64-bit Windows 10, X-Plane 11.10 beta (currently b4), digital license key (i.e., code, not DVD or device auth)

Whenever I change IP addresses on my desktop (which I do all the time because I use a VPN), since XP11.10 beta (and maybe before, but I just started using the VPN so I'm not sure if it always happened or not) I am forced back into a full re-authorization of my copy of X-Plane (of course, only when I re-start X-Plane).

Since I'm doing some testing right now, though, I happen to re-start many times a day (3-8 times a day, maybe more).  Because of this, and sometimes rebooting in between, and using a VPN, my IP address changes regularly.

IP address may have been a good way to identify a single machine back in the '90s, but today it's simply not useful for this feature, and doesn't really help (only hurts) security and usability.

The better way if you really want to do this is to check the primary MacAddr or something similar. But IP address? Not the right thing to key off of.

The problem is 2-fold:

(1) It's super inconvenient to have to re-authenticate, and I really shouldn't have to.  But there's maybe a bug (?) that makes this even worse: the license key is auto-filled-in only the first time you have to do it, but then the subsequent time, you are forced to re-enter it again (the autofill is gone and it's blank). Which of course is not hard, but still a huge interruption to my flow. And senseless; if it's really the same machine and the data is identical, then the stored license key should still be available. In fact, I shouldn't even have to type anything, it should just do what it does (like X-Aviation's plugin does) and let me know if it failed.

(2) With regular re-authorizations using my same license key but with multiple IP addresses (all of which are really just a single instance of the simulator on a single machine!), I'm very worried soon I'll be stuck with a failed authorization and I'll have to buy another key if I want to continue same-day. :-( That's not a great thing to always live in fear of.

Please let me know if there's a way to force the key to stay working regardless of IP address. I can imagine people on laptops who use different networks are even more frustrated by this (?).

Anyway thanks for the consideration.


2 Answers

0 votes
answered by (19.3k points)
This is the current design limitation. I suppose it would be naive to suggest turning off the VPN when you use X-Plane? One of our new developers has some ideas and wants to look into this as well, but I cannot say how soon changes may be coming.

You will not need to buy another key despite the different re-auth and IP issues. If for some reason your key gets locked, you can message me or email [email protected] to request it to be unlocked (provide only the last 8 digits for us to look it up).
commented by (14 points)
Hi, thanks for the quick reply -- but I knew all that (sorry).

My point is primarily that it's unreasonable to ask people to "turn off VPN" every time they want to use X-Plane. There might be many reasons why people's IP addresses would change (if not daily, at least within a week or two).  In my case, it's entirely impossible to turn off VPN when I'm running X-Plane precisely because of the experimentation I'm doing (which has to do with building OrthoXP tiles/overlays and World2XPlane OSM overlays).

Among other things, loading high-resolution orthophotography (for reasons I will not detail here) requires me to be on a VPN. And in my testing, I'm convinced the "reload scenery" developer menu option doesn't work with mesh and/or tile changes, only airports that have already been loaded that may have minor changes -- which means I have to restart X-Plane for each mesh/tile/ortho change to test it out.

So you're saying I can't develop and test on the same machine, and keep downloads happening in the background while I'm testing the previous tile in the foreground?

Also, re: the "not need to buy another key" issue -- that's my exact point: you are awesome, but sometimes (last time it happened to me) it takes you more than a few minutes (usually up to 24 hours, which totally makes sense) to reset my license key.  In fact, I have two keys because of that exact problem.

But when did you add this IP restriction? Has it always been there? Or is it just that I'm hitting it now when I wasn't before either due to my environment or some combination of factors?

I want to support you guys -- you're awesome and have an awesome product that's insanely cool -- and money is no object. I just don't want to waste my precious little teensy amounts of time doing quality contributions to the X-Plane universe and/or just having fun, on trivialities such as this. :-( It sends a mixed message to do stuff like this.

I understand the need for security. But IP address is just the wrong thing to test. Why not MacADDR? those change much less frequently -- so, you move to another machine, you have to re-auth. Makes sense.  But .. making me re-auth just because my IP address changed *and* not letting me simply hit "enter" to auto-apply my previous key .. both of which are followed by me desperately chewing my nails wondering if this time will be the time you lock me out permanently .. is too much stress for my tiny amounts of downtime from my day job to work on XP-related projects to make it enjoyable.

Thanks for listening.
commented by (14 points)
...As I think about it some more, I have a simpler recommendation if the "real" fix is too involved (i.e., if changing away from IP address could risk a regression in your security model):

How about this?  Put a minimum time between checks for the license validity. In other words, in the same exact instance of the app (i.e., using whatever locally stored state you are using to keep track of things), don't allow license revocation to happen within a 24-hour period of the last revocation. Or something like that. (We could argue over how long is long enough, another time.)

It doesn't really make your product less secure at all -- it just lulls would-be thieves into a false sense of security that they won't lose their access, but then a day later, *blammy*!  In fact, there are some security models where it's better to keep the would-be-attacker from knowing whether they succeeded immediately; hence script kiddies and the like would not be able to just fire & forget.  That raises the barrier to entry substantially, over time.

Security is all about threat model -- if you really think someone is that serious about stealing/sharing their license key that they will (every single day) share all their current X-Plane local state from their machine to their friend's just to re-validate their license key (and note: they would have to actually know that's how you're doing it, and it's no worse than the current delayed-reaction your system has with <n> validations before "no" comes back) .. then that is not something covered by your threat model as it is anyway.

Make sense?  If it were 7 days between checks, that'd make me really happy. But I'd settle for at least 1. :-) . Right now I have to answer it regularly (you can check the logs, if you want I can send you number.) Anyway, just saying...


0 votes
answered by (222 points)
You should've bought it on steam. People who don't like convenience buy it from laminar store. You can't do anything, get used to entering the key.

And why would change your IP? It's not a common thing. ISP should provide you with static IP. Also don't use VPN while playing, just turn it off when you launch XP.
commented by (14 points)
@HighFlyer69, that's not particularly constructive; not sure why you went out of your way to write that. You're factually wrong about IP addresses (we're talking about internal IP addresses, i.e., private ones potentially on VLANs, and subject to change at any time -- though it's rare, it's entirely normal for a DHCP server to give you a  different address periodically). Especially on wifi where maybe you're bopping back and forth between two routers.  But this is not a point worth continuing to debate. The fact is, IP addresses are "fragile", whereas MacADDRs are not. (At least, substantially less so.)  In fact, my argument for this feature to be fixed is exactly for the "normal" user who doesn't know anything about networking and just notices randomly they have to re-enter their credentials; they have no idea why.  I just happen to know why.  And thus, by identifying the pattern and reporting it to Laminar, I gave their engineers the chance to notice there's probably a very trivial fix here that could save them tons of support costs.  @HighFligher69, do you know the stats on people reporting that their key is no longer working? Do you know what that costs Laminar to handle? Do you know what effect that has on customer dissatisfaction rates? Unless you are, you really have no place to tell me not to submit such a report and to just live with it. It's not *me* I'm worried about. Ugh. Our culture needs a good scrubbing. Take each other as having the best intentions, don't assume everyone's just out for themselves.

All that said, the fact is something changed with 11.10b6 -- I'm not sure if it was intentional, but I'm not (currently, at least) being asked to re-supply my credentials every time my IP address changes anymore. :-) That's a good thing. I hope that means someone at LR actually got my point and made the change. :-)  It wasn't mentioned in the release notes, so if it's a bug, I hope it's never fixed! :-)

commented by (222 points)
Use steam next time. X-plane never asked me to enter a key or anything else. Just hit play and enjoy. Laminar should simply provide steam keys only and the problem would be gone.