Microsoft has wunderfull products, but half the world is still using Citrix Presentation Servers for their terminal servers. Sure, Microsoft is filling up the gap rather fast with wunderfull new products, but Citrix as a solution for user connections is still very common. Underneath a problem that I recently saw for the first time, but after a little investigation turned out to be a rather know Citrix bug. Users will see a message like something in the picture below, with a text like: Citrix presentation Server license acquisition error () Unable to aquire a license from () server. Please contact your system administrator or open Event Viewer for more details. 
Citrix presentation server - Event error 12296 - Picture 1

The first blank in this picture is a random number, and means nothing, most of the time it will say (-8) or (500). The second blank in this picture, is an indication for the servernumber that the user is trying to logon to. This means nothing, the load balancer for the farm is working correctly, when the user gives it another try, another servername ornumber can turn up. The first reaction is that your out of Citrix licenses, but you can check that rather quick through the License manager tool, or whatever licensing tool you are using. You will find out, that, as a good administrator, enough licenses are available. If not,.. buy additional new one's and your problem will be solved. Problems getting the offer signed by your boss? Is the problem this big that you will have the same problem tomorrow? Through your "MyCitrix" account, you are able to download, the latest trial licenses for Citrix/xenapp. You can install this trial license within your farm. It will give you a 90 days period, which you can use to arrange all the administrative work!

Citrix presentation server - Event error 12296 - Picture 2

So the next thing you do, is check the event log for more information. You will find the Windows Application Event error 12296 from the source CPSLicensing, as you can see in the picture here on the right. Now this will give you the wrong suggestion that there is a time skew somewhere. which actually in not the case. It indicates that Citrix has detected an improper system time that must be corrected. So you are going to check that... Nothing on the server, nothing on the client,.... Nothing wrong!! The line after that is more important! It says that the request for a license cannot be fullfilled. It took some time, but the real issue is that the license server cannot be reached. The user has allready a connection on the server, that why the server number on the error is displayed. 

Now how do you resolve this:

Open the Citrix Access Management Console, open the Citrix farm and browse to the server section. Here are all your servers that are available in your farm. Right-click the first server and choose "properties". Now a new screen will come up with all the settings off your Citrix server. Citrix presentation server - Event error 12296 - Picture 3Choose License Server. Most of the times the checkbox "Use farm settings" will be applied. Remove this, and you will be able to edit manually the port settings. The default port is 27000 for the Citrix license. Directly right to the portnumber, you can change the port, one number up, to 27001 for instance, then choose the "Apply" button. Now, change the port number back to 27000, or whatever port you are using, and choose "Apply" again. After this set the mark in the checkbox for "Use farm settings" again.

Do this for every server in the farm and let the users logon again, another problem solved!

Now for the question what caused it. It is unknown. It seems to be a real Citrix bug especially in the Presentation Server 4.5 version. Just search the Citrix site, and you will find an article in the forums, rather simular to this one. I just created this article to explain the issue a bit more and to add some pictures for the problem. Hopes this helps you in solving your 12296 error!


Ben OostdamBen Oostdam has been working with Windows systems since 1993. Worked for several companies as a system administrator, and is currently a Senior Support Engineer for Qurius Customer Care in the Netherlands, specialized in System Center Solutions.

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