File Evidence

FlexNet Manager Suite 2020 R2 (On-Premises)

Control the folders searched by the installed FlexNet inventory agent for file evidence of installed applications, and for ISO-standard SWID tag files.

Tip: These settings do not control the Zero-footprint case of inventory collection by the inventory beacon. They affect only FlexNet inventory agent installed on the target device, either through the Adopted case or the case of Agent third-party deployment. In other words, these settings control installed FlexNet inventory agents that are collecting policy updates from an inventory beacon.
By default, the FlexNet inventory agent does not collect any file evidence on the computer where it is installed. This default setting minimizes inventory file uploads and processing times for inventory imports. These sections allow you to customize behavior by declaring some paths that should be recursively searched for file evidence, and to fine-tune those settings by excluding some subdirectories of those paths. Declaring paths to search may be important if, for example, you have any application recognition rules that rely on file evidence.
Tip: Collection of file evidence is not necessary for tracking application usage. For usage tracking, the installed FlexNet inventory agent monitors running processes to identify executables in use, inspects the installer records on the local device (such as the MSI data on Microsoft Windows) to associate those executables with known installer evidence, and then reports the installer evidence for usage tracking. Provided that the installer evidence is linked to a known application record on the application server, usage is reported after the inventory is imported.
There are two special cases about the include/exclude paths on Microsoft Windows to be aware of:
  • For Microsoft Windows only, in the initial state when the main setting has never been changed from Do not collect file evidence, the FlexNet inventory agent nonetheless checks the following default folders for SWID tag files:
    When you save any other setting for include paths, the paths you declare are saved as registry keys on the Windows target inventory device, overriding the default for SWID tags. Therefore, if you are declaring any paths for collecting file evidence on Windows, you may want to copy the above default and paste it into a path (and after you save your selection, these are magically separated at the semi-colons and displayed as three paths). Since the ISO-standard SWID tags can be quite helpful for recognizing installed applications, you may want to restore these standard locations so that SWID tags are collected from your Windows platforms.
    Tip: If you subsequently restore the Do not collect file evidence setting, the paths for SWID tags are cleared, leaving the registry keys present but empty on target Windows devices. Because the registry keys are now present, the original default no longer applies. So if you want to collect SWID tags, when you save any change to the Windows include paths, be sure to include the paths shown above.
  • For exclusions on Microsoft Windows platforms only, no matter what settings you enter, the $(WindowsFolder) is always excluded, because this folder alone can contribute millions of file inventory records that are unrelated to installed licensable applications.
From this page, you can have different settings for the different computing platforms shown (Windows, macOS, and varieties of UNIX).
Note: Once you allow collection of file evidence, the FlexNet inventory agent reports .exe files on Microsoft Windows, and on UNIX-like platforms reports all files with no file extension and the Execute bit set on file permissions. In addition, on all platforms, the agent by default reports all .sys, .sys2, .swtag, .swidtag, .cmptag, .sig, .exe, and .lax files (this list is controlled by the IncludeExtension preference in the [Registry]).
Notice that, for each platform, the controls on this page are enterprise-wide, and affect all installed copies of FlexNet inventory agent per platform reporting through your inventory beacon hierarchy, throughout your computing estate. These global settings are most appropriate when you deploy a standard configuration of hardware and software (a Standard Operating Environment) throughout your enterprise.
Tip: You can exert an overriding control over the paths for file inventory collection on individual computers by using the IncludeDirectory preference stored in the [Registry] (Windows registry, or config.ini file on UNIX-like platforms), or by command-line options when you run the tool manually. Similarly, you can override the default exclusion of $(WindowsFolder) on a single device by editing the ExcludeDirectory preference locally. For SWID tags, the local preferences are EmbedFileContentDirectory and ExcludeEmbedFileContentDirectory. For details about local preference settings, see the Gathering FlexNet Inventory PDF, available through the title page of online help.
The controls are arranged in symmetrical groups for each of the three platform types — Windows, macOS (previously OS X), and other Linux/UNIX devices. For each platform, sections in the work area may appear or disappear, depending on your settings and data requirements. Repeat the following process for each platform type independently.
Remember: Exclusions only apply to paths that are already included, and the exclude always wins. As examples:
  • If, for Windows inclusions, you chose Do not collect file evidence, then the only meaningful choice for Windows exclusions is No operator-defined exclusions (which means nothing other than %windir%). This is set automatically in this case, and the controls for exclusions are disabled.
  • If you specify /*/Applications as the only included path for macOS, there no point in excluding /*/Users/*/Documents, because it's not part of the inclusion, and will have no effect.
  • If your Linux/UNIX inclusions choice is Collect file evidence for all folders, you could also Specify folders to exclude such as /var/opt, because this exclusion is a subset of the inclusion setting.
  • If you set an include path and an exclude path to the exact same value (such as C:\temp), the path is excluded for both file evidence and SWID tags, because an exclude always wins.

To manage file inventory collection on each of the listed platform types:

  1. Navigate to Discovery & Inventory > Inventory Settings.
    The Inventory Settings page appears.
  2. Expand the File Evidence section.
  3. Under Included file evidence for your platform, choose one of the following:
    • Do not collect file evidence — be sure about any need for file evidence in your enterprise to help recognize applications, and make this choice only after due investigation and consideration. This choice disables the exclusion settings for the same platform.
    • Collect file evidence for all folders — on UNIX-like platforms, the setting does just what it says; and on Windows includes everything except the $(WindowsFolder), as discussed above. (There is no way around this restriction through the web interface.)
    • Collect file evidence for specified folders — opens an additional workspace on the page, where you can specify as many individual paths as you want searched for this platform:
    1. In the entry field, type a path to a directory you want searched for file evidence.
      While editing the value:
      • You may use variables that identify preferences for the FlexNet inventory agent, which have the format $(PreferenceName), such as $(ProgramFiles). Only preferences supplying paths (or parts of paths) are meaningful in these include/exclude paths. The variables are passed unchanged to each installed instance of FlexNet inventory agent, and so in theory could resolve to different values on different inventory devices. For more details about preferences, see the Gathering FlexNet Inventory PDF.
      • You do not need to enclose the path in quotation marks, even when it contains white space. If you do so, they produce an Invalid folder name error .
      • Paths on Windows typically start with a drive letter, and drive letters of C or later are accepted for Windows. A legacy exception for Microsoft Windows is "\", which means "include all drives", with the exception of $(WindowsFolder) and its subfolders. Instead, select Collect file evidence for all folders for the Windows platform, which has the same effect.
      • Paths for macOS or Linux/UNIX must begin with a slash (/), and the path is then specified from root.
      • A trailing backslash on Windows, or trailing slash on other platforms, is optional.
      • You may use an asterisk (*) wild card to replace all of or part of a word in any level of the file path (see the macOS example in the reminder note above). As always, this expands to all valid matches on each target inventory device, so that the first macOS example above means "any Applications folder at the root level of any fixed disk in this device".
      • You may also use a question mark (?) wild card to replace a single character on macOS or Linux/UNIX (but not on Microsoft Windows, where it is not supported).
      • USB-connected drives (including memory sticks) are scanned as connected drives — be careful, as these can considerably increase time for inventory gathering, and may not be relevant to the search for licensable applications. Network shares are excluded.
      • The size limit for each path is 256 characters. A warning alerts you if you exceed this limit for a particular path.
      Note: An inclusion starts from the folder you specify, and continues down through all child folders (it is recursive). This means that specifying this include path for Linux/UNIX is exactly equivalent to choosing Collect file evidence for all folders:
      To fine-tune this recursive behavior for all target inventory devices, you can create exclusions for any child folders that should be ignored. (Locally on an individual inventory device, you could instead edit the Recurse preference, preventing recursion on all the inclusions specified for this platform type.)
    2. To add another path to your inclusions, click the + icon to the right of the field. Complete your entry as before.
      There is no limit to the number of new paths you can add. However, the total length of all your defined paths for each platform is 4000 characters (not forgetting that, behind the scenes, a separator character is automatically inserted after each of your paths). A warning alerts you if you exceed this limit.

      The effect is additive: that is, the installed FlexNet inventory agent will in turn search for executable files in each of these paths (and by default all their subdirectories). If a path is not found on a particular computer, the FlexNet inventory agent skips that one and continues with the next.

      You may repeat as often as required to add the minimal set of distinct paths for this platform.

    3. If you realize that a path is incorrect or superfluous, remove that setting by clicking the x icon to the right of the field.
    4. Repeat this process until all included paths are specified, for all platforms.
  4. Excluded file evidence for each platform is enabled only when one or more suitable inclusion(s) are already specified. Under Excluded file evidence for each of your platforms, choose one of the following:
    • No exclusions (or for Windows, No operator-defined exclusions) — each installed FlexNet inventory agent follows the paths you specified in Included file evidence, without exception (other than the permanent exclusion of the Windows folder, discussed earlier).
    • Specify [additional] folders to exclude — opens an additional workspace on the page, where you can specify as many individual exclusions as you require (for Windows, these are in addition to the Windows folder, permanently excluded):
    1. In the entry field, type a path to a directory you want excluded from your search for file evidence.
      The same special characters apply as for inclusions, and an exclusion is also recursive. As described earlier, an exclusion must specify a subset of one of your inclusions; and otherwise, has no effect.
    2. To add another path to your exclusions, click the + icon to the right of the field. Complete your entry as before.
      The total length of all exclusions for each platform is 4000 characters (not forgetting a separator character automatically inserted after each of your paths when your settings are saved). There is a warning if you exceed this combined total.
    3. If you realize that a path is incorrect or superfluous, remove that setting by clicking the x icon to the right of the field.
    4. Repeat this process until all excluded paths are specified, for all platforms.
  5. When you are satisfied, scroll down and click Save.
Changed settings are transmitted to all inventory beacons at the interval shown further down the page (under Beacon settings, as Interval for beacon updates (minutes)). Thereafter the changed settings are passed on to each installed FlexNet inventory agent when it requests its latest policy from an inventory beacon.
Tip: If you change your include/exclude paths, then after the updated device policy is applied and the next inventory import is saved into the inventory database, the file inventory records are cleaned up to align with the latest inventory. This means that if you accidentally collect too much file evidence, you don't need to take any corrective action other than to fix the settings for your include/exclude paths. Any file evidence previously collected that is no longer present in the latest import is automatically deleted from the inventory database. Similarly, in the following full inventory import (typically overnight, associated with the license compliance calculations), records that have been removed from the inventory database are also removed from the compliance database.

FlexNet Manager Suite (On-Premises)

2020 R2