Deadline's Auto-Upgrade System

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Version 8.0


Deadline 8.0 is introducing a new rolling update system, which we are very excited about! Instead of doing a couple patch releases for each Major/Minor version of Deadline, we will try to do a Revision release every 2-3 weeks. This will allow us to fix bugs and address minor issues faster than ever before. In fact, the first of these Revision releases (Deadline was released earlier this week.

Since Deadline is often a core tool of the pipeline, there might be hesitation to upgrade it on a regular basis. However, Deadline’s auto-upgrade system allows you to upgrade the farm to the latest Revision releases in a smooth and seamless manner, even in the middle of production. Let’s jump right in...


That’s a great question! This blog entry will be making many references to these different types of Deadline versions, so it’s probably a good idea to define what these actually mean before we show you how to upgrade.

Deadline’s version number actually consists of four numbers. Let’s use as an example.

  • Major: This is the first number (8), and indicates that this is the 8th Major release of Deadline.
  • Minor: This is the second number (2), and indicates that this is the 2nd Minor release of Deadline 8.
  • Revision: This is the third number (4), and indicates that this is the 4th Revision release of Deadline 8.2.
  • Build: This is the fourth number (1). This number is used for internal purposes, and can basically be ignored.

Now you should have the definitions for Major, Minor, and Revision burned into your brain. Note that there might be a pop quiz on this later!

Okay, so to upgrade...


I guess it would be helpful to get your hands on the actual installers as you follow along. The download link for the Deadline installers can be obtained by contacting our Sales Team. The link will be for the current Deadline release, but there is a Legacy sub-folder that contains all previous releases of Deadline if you need them.

Now, to upgrade...


You ask a lot of questions, don’t you? Fair enough.

Revision updates for the same Major and Minor version of Deadline do not require a new license. For example, if you are currently running Deadline, you can upgrade to without updating your license because they both have the same Major and Minor version (8.0).

Major and Minor updates always require a new license. For example, if you are upgrading from 7.2 to 8.0, or from 8.0 to 8.1, you will need to update your license. Basically, the rule of thumb is that if the Major or Minor version number has changed, a new license is required.

However, the exception to this rule is if you’re using Usage Based Licensing (which was introduced in Deadline 8.0). Hours that you’ve purchased for Deadline 8.0 can be used with Deadline 8.1 or 9.0 (when they are eventually released).

Updating your license is free of charge if you have an active Support and Maintenance contract. Please contact our Sales Team if you need to upgrade your license, or if you have any additional questions about how licensing works.

Alright, can I show you how to upgrade now?


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Moving on!


At this point, you should have the Deadline installers, a new license (if necessary), and a slightly extended vocabulary. If you had to upgrade your license, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you install the new license before proceeding with the upgrade. See the License Documentation for more information.

With the appropriate license in place, you are now ready to proceed with the upgrade. Note that the upgrade process for Major releases is very different than it is for Minor and Revision releases, so they are split into separate sections. Since we are highlighting the new Revision release system, let’s start with Revision and Minor releases.


The upgrade procedure for Revision and Minor releases is essentially the same, so we’ll cover it in a single section. In fact, the only difference is that Minor releases require an upgraded license.


To make the upgrade process as easy as possible, there are two key settings you need to enable on your render farm. To do this, open the Deadline Monitor application, enter Super User Mode from the Tools menu, and then select Configure Repository Options from the Tools menu. This will bring up the Repository Settings, and you need to select Client Setup from the list on the left.

The settings you want to enable are Remote Administration and Automatic Upgrades / Downgrades:

  • Automatic Upgrades / Downgrades: With this setting enabled, the Deadline Clients on your workstations and render nodes will check if the Deadline Repository has an updated version installed whenever a Deadline application (Monitor, Worker, Pulse, etc) is started through the Deadline Launcher. If an updated version is detected, the Launcher will automatically download that new version from the Repository and upgrade itself.
  • Remote Administration: With this setting enabled, you can communicate with your Render Nodes from the Monitor. Using this communication will allow you to trigger an automatic upgrade across all of your render nodes by simply telling them to restart the Deadline Worker.


Now that your farm is ready for automatic upgrades, the next step is to upgrade your existing Deadline Database and Repository. Simply run the Deadline Repository installer that you downloaded and choose your existing Repository path as the installation folder.

Press the Next button, and choose the option to connect to an existing MongoDB Database installation. This allows you to upgrade your existing Database, instead of installing a new one. When you press Next again, you’ll see that your Database settings are already populated. This is because the installer is pulling these settings from your existing Repository., so you don’t have to change anything here.

When you press Next again, the installer will take a few seconds to upgrade the Database. After this, you can press Next again to upgrade the Repository.

When the installer is finished, you have now successfully upgraded your Database and Repository!


Before upgrading all of your render nodes and workstations, you should first upgrade the following applications if you are running them on your render farm:

With Remote Administration enabled, this process is very easy. In the Deadline Monitor, use the View menu to open a New Panel for the appropriate application(s). This process is actually identical for Pulse, Balancer, Proxy Server, and Forwarder, so let’s use the Pulse panel as an example. Right-click on the Pulse instance in the list and select Remote Control Pulse -> Pulse Commands -> Restart Pulse. Note that if you don't see the Remote Control menu, you will have to enter Super User Mode from the Tools menu.

This sends a remote command to the Launcher running on the remote machine to restart Pulse. Because you enabled Automatic Upgrades / Downgrades above, and because the Launcher is being used to restart Pulse, it will detect that you’ve upgraded the Repository and will upgrade itself to the same version. After Pulse has been restarted, you can check the Version column in the Pulse panel to confirm that it’s now running the new version.

You can repeat this process for the Balancer, Proxy Server, and Forwarder as necessary. For the Web Service though, you’ll notice that there isn’t a panel in the Monitor for it. Currently, the only way to update the Web Service is to run the Client Installer on the machine that it’s running on.


The next step is to upgrade the Render Nodes. The process is actually very similar to upgrading the other applications above. Simply open the Worker Panel in the Monitor from the View menu, right-click on one or more Worker instances in the list, and select Remote Control Worker -> Worker Commands -> Restart Worker. Note that if you don't see the Remote Control menu, you will have to enter Super User Mode from the Tools menu.

Now I know what your next question is. What if you’re in the middle of production and the render farm is busy? The last thing you want to do is restart the Workers and lose any renders that are currently in progress. There is a solution for that! Again, right-click on one or more Worker instances in the list, and select Remote Control Worker -> Worker Commands -> Restart Worker After Current Task Completion.

When you use this option, the Launcher on the remote machine won’t restart the Worker until it finishes its current task. After that task completes, the restart will trigger and the upgrade will take place automatically. After the upgrade is complete, the Worker will launch and start rendering again. This allows you to upgrade your entire render farm without losing any render progress!

After the Workers have been restarted, you can check the Version column in the Worker panel to confirm that they’re all now running the new version.


This is a somewhat manual process, so it’s recommended that you send out a notification to your staff to let them know the upgrade is in place. The next time any of the artists or wranglers launch their Monitor (or any Deadline application) through their Launcher, the upgrade will take place automatically before launching the chosen application.


That’s it! You’ve now successfully upgraded your entire render farm without impacting any renderers in progress, or leaving your workstation! For additional reading, check out the Minor Upgrade Documentation for more information on doing Revision or Minor upgrades.


If you are upgrading to a new Major version of Deadline (for example, Deadline 7 to 8), you unfortunately cannot utilize the auto-upgrading system. You will need to install a new Repository and Database, and you will need to reinstall the Client software. This is necessary because we often make breaking changes between Major releases in order to add new features and overhaul core technology.

You should also reinstall your integrated submission scripts on your workstations, since it is possible these were changed between Major releases. In fact, if you’re upgrading to Deadline 8, it is absolutely necessary to reinstall these scripts.

See the Major Upgrade Documentation for more information on doing Major upgrades.


More questions, eh?

If you really liked a previous version of Deadline, you can actually downgrade by following the same steps you did to upgrade. Note that the rules for upgrading to Major, Minor, and Revision releases are the same for downgrading. See the Upgrade Documentation for more information.


Okay, last one!

If you are a Deadline beta tester, and you are upgrading from one beta release to another, you can typically follow the auto-upgrade procedure for Revision and Minor releases. The same is true when upgrading from the final beta release to the public release.

Just note that due to the nature of beta releases (ie: things change, and things break), it’s possible that auto-upgrading from one particular beta release to another might not be possible. However, if this is known ahead of time, the Deadline development team will make this clear in the beta release notes.


Hopefully you are as excited about this new Revision release system as we are! Combining this with Deadline’s auto-upgrade system will allow your Deadline farm to stay up to date with the latest and greatest releases without waiting for downtime or affecting production. As always, if you have any additional questions or concerns about upgrading, our Support Team is happy to help!

Oh yeah, and I guess you’re wondering about that pop quiz. I’ll let you off easy this time...