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A method and apparatus for automatic software catalog population Disclosure Number: IPCOM000031874D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Oct-15
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Oct-15
Document File: 3 page(s) / 53K

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This article presents a method for automatic populating a software catalog containing software products and their associated executable files. The method presented leverages the information saved in installation registries to assocaite executable files to software products, thus adding new entries to the catalog in a completely automated fashion

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A method and apparatus for automatic software catalog population

Usage metering tools are software products used to keep track of the usage of other software products. The goal of a customer installing a metering tool is keeping track and generate reports on the usage of software.

    A product is defined to be in use when one of its executable files is running; for this reason a usage metering tool has to monitor the executable files running on a computer. Once an executable is identified, the metering tool has to associate it with a product, to generate the reports the customer is interested at.

    The association is usually performed using a software catalog that enumerates, for each software product, the associated executables. The ideal catalog contains, for each existing software product and for each of its versions and patches, the list of executables files (each represented by, at least, its name and size).

    The metering tool uses the catalog as a knowledge base for performing the association between running executables and the products they are part of. For this mechanism to work properly, the catalog has to be as rich (contain lot of products and product versions) and as accurate as possible, to allow the identification of a large number of softwares and to avoid erroneous associations between executable and products.

    The usual way of creating the catalog is to staff a team of persons who install various software products and for each of them gathers information about their executable files. This approach has a large number of drawbacks: o It requires access to a large number of software packages (and various versions of each); this is not often possible; o It requires installing each released patch of each software to gather information about executables; o It is a human process that is subject to errors; o It is very expensive; o It tends to create a very large catalog that contains information about a large number of products, only a very narrow subset of which is installed at a single customer site; o It requires the customer to periodically receive the updated catalog and install it; a new product version is not recognized until the next catalog update is installed.

    This document describes an automated way of building a catalog containing just the software products installed in each customer environment. This method automatically adds new entries to the catalog each time a new software product is installed. The method leverages the information contained in the installation (and/or uninstallation) databases maintained by the operating system or the installers.

More in detail, when a product is installed, it saves additional information needed to correctly uninstall the software. These data are maintained in a centralized Operating System registry or in product related repositories. Usually they contain also information about the product itself (like the name, the version or the vend...