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Write access to Direct Connect data requires an ArcSDE license, otherwise the connection will be read only.
Create an ESRI_ARCSDE_LICENSE_FILE variable to point to a license manager with an ArcSDE license. The value for the variable is @<server>, where <server> is the hostname of the license server.
For help with setting a system environment variable, see: How To: Edit an environment variable.
Note: The ESRI_ARCSDE_LICENSE_FILE variable does not affect the ArcGIS applications (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGIS extensions). The ESRI_ARCSDE_LICENSE_FILE variable can point to a different license manager than specified during ArcGIS installation or specified in the Desktop Administrator.