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Freiwald Traincontroller to cease use of USB licencing sticks for new purchases


RFS
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This was posted today on the TC forum - Google translate version..

The following text is aimed primarily at users who are planning to purchase a new full version of TrainController.

For several reasons, we will discontinue the delivery of USB sticks for the activation of newly acquired full versions of TrainController from 15.07.2022.

Of course, full versions of TrainController will continue to be sold and unlocked! The activation is only no longer done with USB sticks, but via the Internet. The recently released update 9.0C1 of TrainController makes this possible. As
before, the activation is only necessary for the model railway PC, which controls the system. The offline processing of files on a PC without connecting a model railway is still possible in offline demo mode, as was previously possible and even recommended without a USB stick. However, in order to operate full versions of TrainController purchased after the above deadline with a connected model railway, the model railway PC must be connected to the Internet during operation with the model railway connected.

When the program starts, the license is "checked in" on the Internet. At the end of the program, it is "checked out" from the Internet again. After that, it can be checked in immediately from another PC. When you check in, the Internet checks whether the license has already been checked in with another computer and has not yet been checked out again. This exam is hereinafter referred to as online license check (abbreviated OLC) or online check. During the first check on a computer, an unlock code (called OLC code) is entered into the program.


The following FAQs answer further questions:

 Are products other than TrainControllers also affected by this changeover?
 No.

 If I buy TrainController as a new full version after the above date, does my model railway PC need an Internet connection?
 Yes, the Model Railway PC must be connected to the Internet during operation.

 Does the Internet connection have to have a certain power or speed?
 Actually, no. There is no streaming. During the online check, only a few bytes are exchanged. High data traffic or consumption does not occur.

 Although I have a house connection for the Internet, there is no LAN connection with a network cable between the Internet router and the model railway PC.
 With the means available today (keywords: WLAN, DLAN), the PC can also be connected to the router very easily and inexpensively in another way.

 I don't run my model railway in my home cellar, but in my club, at exhibitions, demonstrations, etc. There is no internet connection there.
 In many cases, you can help yourself in this situation with a smartphone, which is set up as a Wi-Fi hotspot. As already mentioned above: the amount of data exchanged during the online check is small. The purchased data volume is therefore not heavily burdened by this.

 I have already received a USB stick for the activation of TrainController. Am I affected by the changeover?
 No, you can still unlock TrainController with your USB stick and without an Internet connection.

 Can I also unlock the new update 9.0C1 with the USB stick that I already have for version 9?
 Yes. Your USB stick remains unchanged.

 I already have a USB stick for TrainController Bronze and would like to buy TrainController Gold. How will this change affect me?
 Not at all. With an upgrade, only an unlock code is sent anyway, which fits the existing USB stick. Your USB stick will continue to be used as before even after the upgrade.

 I already have a USB stick for TrainController version 7 or 8 and would like to buy TrainController 9. How will this change affect me?
 The answer to the previous question also applies to upgrades from previous versions.

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I think that everyone is being given fair notice that TrainController is going to be problematic to use from here on.

 

Personally, I would be very wary indeed to depend on a piece of software that requires an internet connection to function properly. Frankly, for no good reason, either.

 

Yours, Mike.

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Does make you wonder when connection once every 30 days is good enough for adobe, Microsoft and similar companies licensing…especially given windows 10 love of forcing restarts on you for upgrades.

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This does seem a very retrograde step in terms of software protection because ‘phoning home’ every time you use it will be problematic for many people - especially those without network capabilities. 
 

is this a step towards to monthly subscription model used by other software as a way to raise additional revenue by making is extremely hard to pirate the software? Perhaps someone is selling cracked versions of the USB stick, which at the price of the software would not surprise me.

 

it is strange that other software doesn’t need this level of intrusiveness to operate.

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14 minutes ago, KingEdwardII said:

I think that everyone is being given fair notice that TrainController is going to be problematic to use from here on.

 

Personally, I would be very wary indeed to depend on a piece of software that requires an internet connection to function properly. Frankly, for no good reason, either.

 

Yours, Mike.

 

Well frankly, I have been considering replacing it ever since the faffing around about supplying the UK after Brexit and the whining about it on their forums and the somewhat dodgy price issues for various countries.   I think the next layout will move to something else, even though I am fully invested into TC gold, I'm just getting a bit fed-up with the whole situation with TC.

 

Since I'm starting to play with some stuff for a new layout, I think this has confirmed to me that the change should be now, and I'll re-evaluate how I want to control my toy trains for the future.

 

Regards

 

Graham

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I should have also said that this could introduce a significant security risk for many people because the run TC on old PCs using XP and the like which really shouldn’t be connected to the internet due to their lack of security and large number of vulnerabilities.

 

 

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Again a great example of a business model, I-train doesn’t have to advertise or tout for trade friewald is doing great business for I-train with these silly practices.

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2 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

I should have also said that this could introduce a significant security risk for many people because the run TC on old PCs using XP and the like which really shouldn’t be connected to the internet due to their lack of security and large number of vulnerabilities.

 

 

 

Extremely important point, even though it escaped me on first look.

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"Works" the other way too - what kind of uptime would the server that processes these connections have? "Five nines" (aka 99.999%) uptime is expensive. As TC is global when are the maintenance windows?

 

I wonder however if something has been lost in translation as it talks about checking a licence out and back in - if it doesn't release it until specifically instructed to by the operating PC perhaps an internet loss isn't an issue once connected? Perhaps...

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18 minutes ago, Bucoops said:

"Works" the other way too - what kind of uptime would the server that processes these connections have? "Five nines" (aka 99.999%) uptime is expensive. As TC is global when are the maintenance windows?

 

I wonder however if something has been lost in translation as it talks about checking a licence out and back in - if it doesn't release it until specifically instructed to by the operating PC perhaps an internet loss isn't an issue once connected? Perhaps...

 

As I understand it, the licence is checked on start-up and released on shutdown. So having internet access in between is not necessary.  Perhaps there needs to be an option to tell TC to lock this licence to this PC until further notice, or until I unlock it. Then no internet access would be required for future sessions.

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19 minutes ago, Bucoops said:

 

"Works" the other way too - what kind of uptime would the server that processes these connections have? "Five nines" (aka 99.999%) uptime is expensive. As TC is global when are the maintenance windows?

 

This is very easy to achieve these days with resilient services running on AWS or similar and not being able to ‘sign in’ will not be an issue, however you will be relying on your ISP to provide the connectivity and that is somewhat less reliable and unless you have business services, without any availability figure. It is also unlikely that Freiwald is running the authentication service and it will be provided by a third party.

 

The issue of not ‘signing out’ is different and will affect people who use multiple computers because you won’t be able to sign in on another until the signature on the first has been released - this could also be an issue at exhibitions if there is a power outage (it happens) as logging back in with an already issued key may be problematic, hopefully that has been considered.

 

doesn’t get around it being a faff.

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2 hours ago, RFS said:

At the end of the program, it is "checked out" from the Internet again.

Does not say anything about what happens if:

 

- the client PC system crashes

- the internet connection between the client PC and the server is lost

 

Both are not exactly uncommon events...

 

Yours, Mike.

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28 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

easy to achieve these days with resilient services running on AWS

That requires significant functionality in the server software to deal with the failure of individual AWS virtual machines - "resilient services" don't just happen, they have to be designed into the server software. Whether that has been done for TrainController is another question.

 

Yours, Mike.

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Perhaps you missed the bit about Freiwald buying in the authentication as a service?

 

BTW designing resilient services isn't much of a hassle these days for mainstream software, redundancy is a bit more awkward but again not difficult. I do agree that 20 years ago it was more difficult, but that isn’t where the industry is now 😉

 

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I don't understand this.

I have several pieces of paid software* on my PC and all check in first time use and that's it.

Any attempt to use another PC with the same license produces an error "Already registered"

Only if I want to transfer to another PC do you release the license and can then use it on another PC (e.g. on buying a new computer)

 

Bonkers!

 

* Including; Pinnacle Studio, Kaspersky IS, Silverfast, Coreldraw.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, RFS said:

Quote

 

 I don't run my model railway in my home cellar, but in my club, at exhibitions, demonstrations, etc. There is no internet connection there.
 In many cases, you can help yourself in this situation with a smartphone, which is set up as a Wi-Fi hotspot. As already mentioned above: the amount of data exchanged during the online check is small. The purchased data volume is therefore not heavily burdened by this
.

So you are somewhere with no internet and no mobile signal. (Plenty of places)

TC will not work.

Wi Fi in exhibitions is often flaky at best, with lots of devices competing for the limited bandwidth available.

 

What a way to drum up business - not.

 

 

 

Edited by melmerby
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19 minutes ago, melmerby said:

I don't understand this.

I have several pieces of paid software* on my PC and all check in first time use and that's it.

Any attempt to use another PC with the same license produces an error "Already registered"

Only if I want to transfer to another PC do you release the license and can then use it on another PC (e.g. on buying a new computer)

 

Bonkers!

 

* Including; Pinnacle Studio, Kaspersky IS, Silverfast, Coreldraw.

 

Just a different way of doing it - easier for the user with limited IT knowledge. If the software basically hands the license back when it quits, for those users who may then use the same copy on a different PC for any reason, they can move to the other PC and start up without having do anything - that is a good user experience and makes it just the same as swapping the USB key from one PC to the other - easier actually as you dont have to do anything.

 

Lets face it, most people use this at home, you are not going to notice any different day-to-day, and if your home internet goes down, then Apple make it really easy on an iPhone (I assume its just as simple and easy on Android, never used one tho so not sure) to link any computer/mobile device to your phone to use the mobile internet, which will then achieve the same thing.

 

At the end of the day, its his business plan and he is obviously happy with it. The only ones who are really going to be impacted are those with exhibition layouts, but they cannot be alone, so I suspect there is some option (or will be) to deal with this.  Perhaps the machine having the option not to hand the license back and hold it for seven days or the like, but perhaps one of those affected, need to email Mr Freiwald politely and explain the situation, and ask what the situation is.

 

HOWEVER, as this comes in from the 15th July this year, presumably everyone voicing an issue already has a USB key, which will continue to work as it always has, so actually there isn't a problem?!

 

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47 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

Perhaps you missed the bit about Freiwald buying in the authentication as a service?

It isn't clear that Freiwald is doing this, although that is a possible approach.

 

52 minutes ago, WIMorrison said:

designing resilient services isn't much of a hassle

I used to advise customers how to build cloud services of this kind before I retired. A bit of a blast from the past...

 

Yours, Mike.

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1 hour ago, MarshLane said:

 

Lets face it, most people use this at home, you are not going to notice any different day-to-day, and if your home internet goes down, then Apple make it really easy on an iPhone (I assume its just as simple and easy on Android, never used one tho so not sure) to link any computer/mobile device to your phone to use the mobile internet, which will then achieve the same thing.

 

 

That's Freiwald's reasoning.

Plenty have dodgy or non-existent mobile coverage, i'm not sure what mine is like now, as at one time there was little or no signal at ground level. Even the BT chap installing the fibre broadband in the house had a problem.

This is in a built up area not too far from Birmingham.

 

I do have wired internet in my railway room, which is 25m or so from the house, if like many the only internet is by phone, you could be b*ggered

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How do other paid-for automation software products, eg iTrain, prevent illegal licence sharing?

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Just now, RFS said:

How do other paid-for automation software products, eg iTrain, prevent illegal licence sharing?


They can’t and if someone shares the licence then there is nowt that can be done other than revoke the licence when the duplication of licence use is found out.

 

The major difference is that the software (ITrain) is sold at a reasonable price that people can afford which reduces the likelihood of licence sharing, plus the author is very helpful and will to extend trial licences giving people enough time to understand the product. There is also no surcharge applied when upgrading from one version to a higher version.

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