So, here it is in simple terms for reference.
Install the licence server on a Windows box somewhere (VC node or elsewhere)
Ignore the LMTools app for now.
get your VMWare licence key file.
When you purchased ESX you would get a licence activation key (LAC) in an email - it looks something like the following
You need to go to the Vmware site, logon with your account that is tied to the licence key request
Plug in the LAC
then go and activate your licences, if you’ve purchased a bunch of licences this will involve selecting how many instances of CPU licences you want to bundle into the licence key file - you can add more later.
download the file it generates
Rename it VMWARE.LIC (don’t think this is 100% required, but works for me)
Stop the “VMWare Licence Server” service
on your licence server navigate to C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware License Server\Licenses
overwrite the default vmware.lic file with the file you downloaded
Start the “VMWare Licence Server” service
Run VMWare Licence Server Tools from your start menu
and then go to the server status tab and click “Perform Status Enquiry”
You should see something like the following
Hint - you can look in the .lic file yourself to check it’s contents- it’s just plain text and I think you can put multiple .lic files in this directory.
There is a default licence file in the licenses directory - this is a dummy one and it says so in the text.
The LMTools GUI is a bit weird, if you run this first and select “Configuration using License File” from the default tab (which would be the logical thing) then it doesn’t seem to do this file copy and you keeps using the dummy vmware.lic file which is really confusing as nothing works and when you try to point ESX nodes at it via VC they all fall back to unlicenced.
Also, the ESX server itself seems to cache the licence data a reboot seems to flush it out and it becomes properly licenced.